We Live In Trump’s World Now

A few weeks ago I had a run in with an middle-aged American man. I haven’t had any confrontation with anyone here since I moved hear nearly 2 years ago. While there’s always a bit of subtle racism going on in this country, I’ve never felt like I don’t belong here. It is why this incident stood out in my mind.

My partner and I were having a lazy Sunday afternoon stroll down one of the many charming streets in Bangkok, and we could hear Darth Vader huffing and puffing behind us. He took offence to us strolling and wanted to overtake us but didn’t want to waste his breath on an ‘excuse me’. He decided to spend it grumbling instead.

Being the overly sensitive person that I am, I told my partner to give way so Mr Grumpy could walk ahead. When I did that, he loudly threw a few choice expletives at us. I don’t know if he assumed I was Thai and therefore didn’t speak English or if I was another clueless native, but he didn’t seem to care that he was being a complete jerk.

When I reacted with a ‘wow, calm down old man!’, he screamed a few more expletives at us and then said something about Donald Trump and free speech. He did all this without so much as looking at us. He just kept walking ahead of us slow enough for us to hear his opinions.

Funny thing is, we both live in a military run country with a very strong monarchy. The rules of Lèse-majesté are enforced here. Foreigners have to do a 90 day report to immigration in which we mention our place of residence and the details of our social media accounts, doesn’t matter which country you are from. However, Donald Trump winning the American elections somehow means that his ‘no-holds-barred’ rules apply even in this part of the world (at least in the minds of the MAGA clan).

While pondering this as we continued to stroll (ain’t nobody going to ruin our Sunday!), we saw him standing at the shade of a tree, out of breath, red, flustered, I saluted him. He called me a bitch after I walked ahead of where he was. Being the feisty person that I am, I went back and asked him what he said. I thought he would have a heart attack. Suffice it to say, he wasn’t so brave when I asked him to uphold his freedom of speech in front of my face.

Its the debate with no clear answer- do you confront people like this? Or do you just shrug it of? Or will shrugging it off give them more reason to spread their mindset? Or will it be the confrontation that changes them from being moderate to extreme right wing. At the end of the day, in my head, a white man insulted me and thought it was okay to do it because of Donald Trump’s weird version of freedom of speech. In his head, a brown lady (debateable!) got all up in his face.

Anyway, we did manage to get the great views we were hoping to get on our long walk (more on that in the next N-N-1), but we also did run across this ironic graffiti ‘art’ just next to it.

An Eerie Mannequin Challenge

I’m not the kind to be spooked easily. I have been known to laugh a bit too much during horror films, been a bit dismissive of ghost stories and stories of spirits. I’m a self-proclaimed unsympathetic rational.

Of late, though, I have had this feeling of being watched. I’m not usually a paranoid person, and maybe it had to do with the head to floor windows in our bedroom and kitchen … but I just couldn’t shake the feeling.

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View from my bedroom window

With the lovely view out our window, I often look outside. A few times over the last few weeks, I’ve had to shut the curtain because of an irrational fear that someone was watching.

Then this weekend, the mister called me over all excited. He had spotted something in the next apartment complex that tickled him to no end. Tune in next week to find ….

Just kidding.

He saw that the guy (presumably) living opposite us on the floor above had a mannequin by his window! (WHO EVEN DOES THAT!). The mannequin, when his owner leaves the curtain open, stares straight into our house. It was not a malevolent spirit, and the shameless voyeur had impeccable taste in t-shirts. Sigh.

On the plus side, I found something else to keep me on edge. An elderly neighbour whose idea of fun is to sit on his balcony in his tighty whiteys while watching movies on his laptop. Fun!

The Thirtieth Year

I’ve done it. I’ve managed to reach the grand old age of thirty by failing at every societal standard laid before me – my index finger is ringless, my hair is fashionably grey, my uterus is rotting to the sound of my spinsterhood and I have dared to have a good time nonetheless. Who would’ve thought that being a disgrace would be such an adventure? They should’ve made it less exciting, and catered it to my attraction to procrastination.

My 2016 looked like this:

Yay! #books #bookstagram #bookworm #goodreads

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1. I managed to read 48 books I can officially claim to have read. There are some I can’t claim to have read on account of threat of jail. Aren’t banned books the best?

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2. I got to hang out with sea-turtles!

3. I got the Broseph to come visit me. We had so much fun, his trip ended with me getting pneumonia (fun times!)

I just died and went to heaven! #panda

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4. I got to see a Panda LIVE!!!

5. I got to hug my baby niece and spend 2 whole weeks being bullied by her (it was the best feeling in the world!)

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Thailand
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Kerala, India.

5. I got to see 15 new places in Thailand. Not to mention the great towns we got to explore in Kerala, India, over Christmas.

2017 is my 30th year and I intend to go after adventure and happiness with the same (if not slightly more exaggerated) vigour! After all, I read some potty graffiti recently that said “Do more of what you love!”. If that’s not a sign, then I don’t know what is.

Happy 2017 all! Let’s make this one count!

I like play football

One of the perks of dating a teacher is hearing incredible stories from the classroom. Some are hilarious, some make you want to face-palm, but mostly, they’re stories of ingenuity. Children are so clever, and so resourceful, it’s no wonder they have to beat all creativity out of you. We can’t have a world full of geniuses walking around after all. 

One such story is about a class of young ‘uns. He asks each child a question in English. If the kid answers the question right, they get a name tag. Once this ritual is done with all the students, the class begins. 

Sample Conversation: 

Teacher: Hello, how are you? 

Student: I am fine thank you. 

Teacher: What is your favourite sport? 

Student (demonstrates kicking a ball): I like play football.  

A lot of students seemed to like football. Mr Teacher was pleased that unlike with other schools where he teaches English as a foreign language, these students seemed clever enough to not only understand his questions, but to also answer him appropriately. 

The next week when he was in class again, the conversation went something like this. 

Him: Hi. What is your favourite food? 

Kid 1-30 (demonstrates kicking a ball): I like play football! 

Turns out, the kids had learnt from their seniors to expect a foreign teacher to come teach them English. And if they were clever enough to learn a few choice phrases in English, they never need actually learn any English at all. Quite clever of these kids to do the absolute minimum to get by. I wish corporate life was similar. 

I vowed to take inspiration from these kids and apply it to my daily life. 

Dad: So when are you going to get married? 

Me (kicking imaginary ball with slightly too much gusto): I like play football! 

Life is so much easier now! 

 

Marking Anniversaries

Bangkok Skyline
The view of downtown Bangkok from my office window

I don’t have a track record of remembering anniversaries and important dates. These days, you don’t need to, thanks to Facebook and Time Hop. All you need to do is put up a post about it and it’ll remind you every year ‘On This Day’.

Very Convenient.

However, I have been trying to be less rubbish at it. I read somewhere that we are potentially the only species on the planet who’s aware of the passage of time and that just blew my mind. We know time flies, we know life is fleeting, and if we didn’t know any better, we’d just be stuck in a routine where one day is just like the other. I understand now, more than ever, why people get into knots about remembering anniversaries.

Today I have been in Bangkok and at this job for a whole year. If I didn’t take the time to look out the window and take stock of where I was standing right then and what journey got me there, would I be giving life the credit that it deserves? Just thinking back to when I first got here and how life has changed in the span of only 365 days makes me speechless. Even when everyday seems the same, you’re never the same person you were when you first started.

Life is never dull and constant.

Sometimes, to appreciate the true complexity and beauty of life, and your own transformation to the beat of the seconds hand, you just need to take a step back and really look.

Life is an amazing journey!

A stormy evening sky in Bangkok
A stormy evening sky in Bangkok

Happy Anniversary Bangkok. You have been challenging and eye-opening, you have been a comfort and infuriating. In not being home, and in sometimes being the exact opposite of comforting, you’ve raised me to be stronger, better, more resilient. In kicking me out of my comfort zone every single day, you’ve made my life throb with excitement! Thank you for a wonderful year!