The Subtle Art Of Blending

Bangkok green spaces! #parks #thailand #skytrain

A post shared by AL (@cupitonians) on

If you’ve come here for a makeup tutorial, I’m afraid you’re going to be very disappointed – not just at my serious inability at the art, but also at this post’s lack of anything useful. I’m talking more in terms of our ability, as humans, to blend into whatever situation/geographic location/circumstance we are thrown into.

I’m coming up to two years in Thailand and I walk the roads that once cause me anxiety like its something I’ve always done. I am able to hail a cab and direct the driver without breaking a sweat. I walk past monitor lizards like they are neighbourhood strays. I add P’ (polite prefix that means brother or sister) in front of people’s name and end my  sentences with a ka, even when I’m travelling out of Thailand. I have blended in so much that I don’t even break a sweat at 37 degrees heat, I know the corners of the skytrain to squeeze into during rush hour, and I carry flip flops and an umbrella in my bag because duh, how could you not?

Humans have an ability to adapt to anything, and to do it without even realising it. When I went home for a short break home a few weeks ago, I casually mentioned something funny P’Thor did or that the mister’s favourite student is Boeing. It took me a while figure out that the looks of confusion and the extra jovial laughter was because they still think of Thailand, its quirks and culture, as strange.

I didn’t even bat an eye-lid when I found out that Boeing’s younger sister is called Airbus. I just nodded. It’s now a completely normal name to me. In my new world, evening markets are a norm, mom and pop ramen shops are around every corner, just next to a 7/11. Cats say me-o, trains make a ‘poon poon’ sound, and saying ka does not make you an imitator of crows! I am at ease with people in various stages of transition, and am never confused about what pronoun to use for whom.

Funny this transition from strange to familiar.

2 thoughts on “The Subtle Art Of Blending

  1. I have spent days trying to come up with a good joke about children with airplane names, but they all seem puerile. So no jokes. I envy you the ability to blend in. Most of my fellow citizens of the good ole U.S. of A. try to turn their surroundings into mirror images of their prior homes. I believe that the British did much the same in India. Perhaps that is a difference that which we who grew up in the west have to struggle.

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    1. Indians do it to an extent as well. I have extended family members who live and work in Texas, some who work in Taiwan, Japan and other Asian countries. I have one set of cousins in Australia. They all have a few things in common – all their friends are Indian, if you didn’t notice the strange and exotic background in their pictures and videos, you’d think they were still in India. I think humans have a tendency to re-create the familiar? I think the wildest thing my cousin in Texas has done is to forgo his curry for dinner in order to attend a Benny Hinn session. Yikes!

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