It’s the end of the month soon and while I hope against hope that people high up in the food chain here, get bored with playing this tiring old chess game and that the media with the sad happening in Haiti, learnt to master the art of communicating real issues. January is ending with the same greyness as last year. We, Thais, are living our very own Groundhog Day.
Even the weather has turned bizarre with grey fog and intermittent rain showers, making me feel like recoiling back into my shell.
I feel the need to reach for my duvet and the desire to stay in bed reading and waiting for some major shift in attitude. Needless to say economics beckon and staying in bed reading just cannot pay for my breakfast let alone lunch and dinner. But that does not stop me reading. This habit has become my saviour and taught me that there is hope and a way out for this beleaguer country. Thailand has phenomenal modern and “dare to think outside the box” writers.
If you stray away from the tabloid news and start reading new release pockets books then you will find hiding in jacket and sleeves are very thought provoking insights into this country ails. Sadly most of theses books are in Thai and have not caught the eyes of foreign publishing house yet.
One book that really has me hooked line and sinker is Laplae, Kaeng Khoi by Utit Hema-moon.
This book gives you a glimpse of how we get to where we are now, politically. Reading this book makes me feel that it’s not just a story of one teenage boy rites of passage but Thailand.
What fascinates me is the how this story charts the uprising of Thai’s lower middle class. It gives you an understanding into the dynamic and for me the reason why we are facing political stalemate right now.
Incidentally, Laplae and Kaeng Khoi are two real towns. Laplae, has earned its fame as a mythical and magical place. The inhabitants of this town are believed to be invisible to most and can only be seen by someone who they wish to be seen. Kaeng Khoi is a provincial neighbouring town.
For you Thais who haven’t read the book, the title is so cleverly apt to the plot so read it and weep. It has a fascinating twist and it adds to the pure enjoyment of this book.
Well, as this isn’t a book review kind of a blog, I will put down that reviewer mind. The reason why I brought up this book is to say that reading this, keeping my head and thinking mind under my duvet, has helped me put the current political situations of this country into perspective.
The way that the story charts the lives of of the main characters through how they master their poverty in the only ways each one know how is so like the way we, Thais, are trying to understand the concept of human rights and democratic freedom.
We stumbled through this thing we think is freedom and failed miserably in such a tragically comic way whilst the people in power simply watch and I might even say, bait us along, All along, it’s they who has the freedom, not us. Yet the more we have tried to understand, the nearer we get to tasting what it means and suddenly this is taken away from us.
Freedom to think, freedom to express one’s belief and ideas regardless of boundaries is the character of Kaeng Khoi who wasn’t frighten to pursue what he believed in. Yet Laplae is supposed to be Thai conscience, full of limitations and the need to social conform that limit and create boundaries.
Fascinating parody that might just be me that is enjoying this.
The important thing is that I can see why we are trapped in this malaise and behave in such a schizophrenic fashion when it comes to the subject of democratic growth and nationalistic pride. The two seems polar opposite and might be by design rather than a happy accident.
However, if I can see this and I’m just a normal bod or you might say Jo Block here then as we Thais learn to gain perspective and globalization is more than just an ability for us Thais to keep up with the western fashion trends then true political freedom and democratic rights will be just a few years away, surely!
For those who want to read this book in English, heckle some publishers to translate. This book deserves to have a place in the global market as it has something akin to The Bone Setter’s Daughter by Amy Tan and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night–time by Mark Haddon.