While I was watching the last part of Confessions of a Shopoholic and awaiting the beginning of the Pacquiano-Mosley fight, I was called up (a bit earlier than I had expected) to the Legacy Farm (about 2km away from the school) for a meeting. The original intent was for me to watch an interview between Ajan (it is a title of respect—something like Mr. or Mrs.) Leon and some potential ‘trainees,’ but they did not show (I am told that cold feet is a rather common phenomenon).
In the absence, therefore, of that official business, our conversations took a rather philosophical turn. There were discussions about the problem of a lack of future-oriented thinking among many Thais and hill tribesman, a lack of respect for tools and property, endemic problems with theft and corruption. None of this is remotely surprising, as they are all interrelated problems given the same worldview sources. We chatted about materialism—the interest of every student in getting a cell phone as soon as they are in the school, as that possession has a particularly symbolic meaning in many parts of the world, as I have seen in my travels to Africa and South America, regardless of the content of conversations.
Of particular note was the commentary about Lotus Land. I was warned (and it is a sound warning) that everyone is eventually affected by the Lotus Land mentality of Thailand. I suspect that there are at least two reasons for this and one of them is unavoidable. For one, physical exertion is impossible to maintain in oppressively hot climates. It is a difficult task simply to stay awake in the heat of the afternoon (I failed at that myself in the afternoon), much less do anything productive. Productive labor must be either after dark or before sunlight. This appears to be a big reason why I have little trouble waking up early to read and write, to study and muse, as the heat is not so bad at 5 and 6AM, as it is in the heat of the afternoon. Therefore being affected by the heat of the country, in the absence of widespread air conditioning, appears to be inevitable. That said, at least one can keep one’s wits up if one avoids chemical means (drugs and alcohol) of laziness. Even if one’s physical activity is limited by the climate, one can keep a sharp eye and a quick mind.
One of the more interesting tasks I have while here is somewhat unrelated to the teaching at the school, but rather the assistance of efforts for evangelism in Burma. Apparently there is the need for some order with regards to ensuring that English-Burmese/Karen translations are made in a timely fashion, kept organized, and passed along the steps to completion so that the printed materials and sermon tapes can be sent to a Church of God member who is apparently the Legacy Office in Rangoon, and then sent within that country. Bringing order to chaos sounds like one of the tasks that I am continually asked to help out with, no matter where I go. I’m not entirely sure why, but it sounds like helping the work in Burma ought to be exciting, at the very least.
I also managed to pick up my bike today and to take a very dramatic bike ride back from the farm over some muddy river mostly downhill back to the apartment. I then went off to get some ka pou gai (prounounced ‘ka-pow guy’), which is the Thai name for basil leaf chicken. With fried egg on top it is a very tasty and only moderately spicy dish. I imagine it will quickly become a favorite dish of mine as it has that of Austin, who left today for a trip down south of Bankok for a two week vaction. As it happens, after my late lunch I was too tired to do anything, and I ended up having a somewhat lengthy sleep, albeit interrupted, as it often is.