10 March 2011

Courtesy

Voices are rarely raised in Thailand. People communicate with each other in a quiet, courteous manner. It is the same out on Bangkok's busy arterial roads. Often there'll be three lanes of clogging traffic with drivers skilfully weaving in and out of their lanes to gain some forward motion. But nobody's honking. No fists are raised. No road rage boiling over. Just brightly coloured taxis, buses, limousines, battered old Toyotas in a traffic jam dance.

In the school itself, I have yet to hear a teacher properly raising his or her voice in anything resembling annoyance. There's no need to play that card because the students are calm, dignified, compliant and cheerful. They support one another. On Tuesday I read out Peachy's creative writing to her Y9 class and when I had finished, the whole class applauded spontaneously - not my delivery but Peachy's splendid effort. There wasn't a hint of irony in that applause. No surly, snarling, teenage cleverdickery - just smiling young people acknowledging their classmate's work. How very refreshing this is for me. Like a daily medicine.

And I love the way in shops or restaurants, the humble Thai greeting will often accompany transactions. Palms together, head slightly bowed, hands moving from heart to head - "Kop Kun Kap" - thank you. In the depths of a sprawling modern city, the character of old rural Thailand has not been forgotten.

7 comments:

  1. Those are very brightly coloured cars. I compared your observations with the driving in Cape Town. There is little regard for the highway code as we might call it it and yet I never heard a horn sounded (except for the combitaxis). It seemed to be accepted behaviour.

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  2. Teaching at that school must be an absolute dream! :)

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  3. What do they have in their dna or nature that makes them so different from us though Mr Pudding? Surely some frayed tempers or cross words exist under the surface? or am I just cynical? Whatever they have I wish it could be imported...

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  4. SHOOTERS I will never honk again in England! (Tee hee - at least in the first twenty four hours back!)
    JENNY It is a dream. After all the battles and that Nazi OFSTED and the ring binders and the moving targets. This is how teaching should be.
    LIBBY There are certainly bad people in Thailand - of course there are. There's a big prison within spitting distance of the school but mainly there is a gentility about the people that is woven into everyday life. If there are frayed tempers they are very well-hidden. It's partly down top the heat and how previous generations have conducted themselves.

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  5. it seems to dovetail into my latest blog subject nicely pud

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  6. I think maybe they have a padded room at home where they can break dishes, throw darts at a photo of the boss, and scream to their hearts' content....

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  7. I am so, so happy for you, YP. This experience sounds wonderful: from the students, to the travels, to the sounds, sights, tastes--Wow! Thanks for sharing and letting us have a glimpse of a different world.

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