Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Is It I Who Am The Buffalo?
In my previous post that appears below I told you about my forthcoming book, 'MY THAI GIRL AND I' and pasted in a chapter called 'Things Fall Apart' describing how nothing much ever seems to work properly out here living in the the backwoods of Thailand. I was worried that it came over as being a bit too negative and asked you for your opinion on it.
Many thanks to the ten readers who responded by comment and email direct to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your views were very useful and interesting.
Now for the vote! One commentator, Lloyd said I should not include the chapter in the book. A couple of you were non-committal saying it depends on the context, and the rest pretty much said that it should go in as it reflected their own experience here and I should tell it like it is.
In writing the chapter, I was hoping the irony/humour one of you refers to might justify it and save it from being an unmitigated rant. I'm still not sure.
One of you asked whether what I was saying was intended as a reflection on local people or as providing insight into the western male and his lack of understanding of the predicament he is in. This for me hits the nail on the head as yes, it is mainly intended as the latter. Seen in the context of the rest of the book, it's all about the sometimes difficult though rewarding experience for a farang swimming in a very unfamiliar sea.
You also make the point that one should get recommendations first before buying goods or services. Well, in the case of the five mechanics who cocked up the brakes of the jeep, all were recommended by locals and by a farang friend. The latest mechanic proved to be reasonably okay but basically the standard is very low in a small market town, ranging from rip-off merchants to mere incompetence. (You can't go further afield if the jeep won't get there!)
The marital farce of the story is that I was clearly asking for trouble buying second hand in the face of my wife Cat's view that all car dealers here are crooks selling utter rubbish. My pig headedness with the jeep thus proved me horribly wrong and Cat is now vindicated! The only answer she says is to buy a brand new Toyota, which we have now done. Then you get impeccable service. I'd happily have my appendix taken out in the Toyota workshop in town!
So that's it. I now have to decide whether to leave the chapter in or to take it out.
Despite all the kind comments, I'm still inclined to take Lloyd's advice and not to risk publishing this chapter. The book is intended as a feel-good story and while it has to depict the inevitable farang frustrations learning to live in a new and different place, I'm worried that 'Things Fall Apart' is too much of a rant.
Interestingly one of you said that with time you adjust you expectations living here and learn to adopt a more laid back attitude and this softening process is a major theme of the book. You'll never make a go of it and be happy living here unless you too say 'mai pen rai' and learn to go with the flow!
Thanks again and keep the comments coming.
I must now stop writing this and finish the book. I'm almost there!