World of India!: Travellerr :Sawadeekaaaaa ! e

World of India!

Fire at will.
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Travellerr :Sawadeekaaaaa !

Thailand is like India in many respects. The Immigration people have that same bored, tired look like the one found in our Government offices and there is corruption (I personally experienced attempted extortion from the Police). As you get out of the airport, it’s the same negotiation game with Taxi drivers and you often find yourself getting fleeced. The roads are much better though (at least in Bangkok). What I liked most was our Hotel, which has not changed since the time it was set up in the 70's. The old lady running the placed told us that many people came to photograph it because of this. Have a dekko at the adjoining picture of the hotel bar - a sight straight out of our 70's Hindi films, albeit minus Helen in a bikini.

What takes you back, though, is the Thai devotion to their King, which is on display everywhere (to his credit he seems to be a decent guy...watch this picture (on the right) where he bows down in front of an old lady, who's paying her respects, breaking protocol). For some one who is routinely suspicious of idolization of any sort, it was a slightly unsettling experience, but at least the Thai's love their King of their own free will and there is genuine democracy, unlike many other countries. The day I was in Bangkok, I was told that local elections were being held. Had some one not told this to me, I wouldn’t have known. No din, no noise, the election posters were miniscule by Indian standards and tucked away on road corners. Newspapers too were strangely quiet about the whole affair and the spinal operation being performed on the King got the top draw, way ahead of the electoral process!

The Thais seem to be painfully aware of their limitations with English as a foreign language, but to their credit seem to be doing a lot about it, considering its importance to Tourism, which is their main source of income. Signs of 'I Love Farang (foreign tourist)' and ' I know English' were everywhere and so were adverts of English Coaching institutes. But for all the stickers on the taxis, conversation with any driver was a painful affair. While the ordinary man on the street seems to need coaching in basic English, for the King (or his speechwriters), some one needs to administer a solid dose of Cod liver oil to ensure they get rid of the all difficult to understand words and passages, from their systems . This by itself is not novel by any means. Many writers whose first language is not English seem to believe that the more abstruse (here we go again) the words and more longwinded the sentences, the better it is. Honorable exceptions to this inviolate rule are few- Vinod Mehta, Khushwant Singh and of course R.K.Narayan.

Coming back to the king and his gem of a speech, read the following and make what you must of it: "...a broad and clear knowledge and understanding in a comprehensive manner will become a source of wisdom and engender the intellectual ability to distinguish cause and effect which in turn will enable a person to relate jurisprudence with knowledge in other areas and with human life in a correct and suitable manner."

In case you are feeling slightly dazed after this, let me awaken you with a hearty "Swadeekaaaaaa"(Thai greeting)!

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August 08, 2006 2:15 PM

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August 12, 2006 8:38 AM

Hey what a great site keep up the work its excellent.
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May 04, 2007 2:47 PM

hey..nice story...check out thaindian.com for more stories which connect india and thailand!


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