Thursday, June 01, 2006

A Thailand - in a pack.

Pattaya, just 1 degree of Thailand

In March this year I was in Pattaya - first time I went along as part of an organised tour to Thailand, with a bus full of people. Frankly, I never wanted to, but since it would not cost me any money and I had a functional role, it was hard to shy out. This would be the first time in my 7 trips to Thailand that I would go in such a manner. In the end of the tour I felt there was not much to write home, but as I go through the pictures of the time - I think I can build one!!

The plane landed early early morning in Bangkok and all of us who smoked went straight for those tobacoo corners. This was the first time I had a proper visa in my passport, otherwise full of triangular 'thai visa on arrival" ink stamps. I always hated people travelling in groups, but here I was doing the same.

" This is a big airport" said one guy. " You know tourism is what fuels Thailand", said another. And so, a big anamoly about a nation which should be just like us otherwise, was solved in a second!

For some reason I was curious who would be our guides on the road to Pattaya and soon realised that it would be local Indians from some travel company run by Indian-origin people in Thailand. And that meant they were bent upon making things feel as much as home - especially with food! We even went started by having breakfast in a Punjabi restaurant, playing punjabi music. Nothing wrong with that as such, but what a bore... for, we are supposed to have arrived in Thailand for 7 hours and I could hardly feel so!!!!

Well, one of the guide was a Thai lady alright who did not mix up words describing her past & broken life with a German man who she had to leave and come back to Thailand. Making my work harder about what Thailand means to me... uurrrgh.

Well, soon I found that the lady was not going to make my life any easier. She spent a lot of time explaining the night life and the dangers of lady-boys. & About more night life, & more dangers etc. But not a word about Thai culture, its depth etc. Just exactly what lay in the minds of my colleagues or within their legs!!!

'watch out for the lady boys at the night here', the guide says. 'What, will they eat people?' I wonder.

Its not that I do not fancy night life and all that goes with it. But I think, even if I am facing someone who is gearing to steal my entire wealth, I still sense the human in them, while being able to protect myself. But I fear that none of my colleagues have any patience for anyone - even for those who may benevolently smile at them - especially after all that the lady had excited in them.

The only thought in their mind - how am I going to find out its a boy or a girl!

Well, not everyone in the group is so. But its hard to discern so in a group behaviour?

Anyways, the 3 days in Pattaya were at the least - clustrophobic for me. I went to the International meeting point and it was not at all my kind of place. I am very ok with night life, bars and even the dance shows. No problem. Its just that this street is just too loud in a non-stop manner. One cannot just sit back and re-load ones mind anywhere. Even though once settled down in a place I like, I can dance all night. But not here...

The street while people are busy reloading their guns?

Anyways, while doing sober & serious things in the day (which I am not going to describe here), the nights were spent by people to .... I don't know what! Everyone would just go round and round. I asked my friend, " Listen if you want to do it, just do it and lets get over it. If you want to flirt, talk to someone and let's get over it. But lets stop going round and round please...."

Thats how the street felt to me those nights. Lolz...

In the first day, every one came back to bed with a foot massage. Warmed up and still morally intact? Lolz!

The guy sleeping in my room ( and a couple of others) was the sanest I think. He used to come late. He would speak the least. He would seem very satisfied. The rest seemed restless, debating, deciding, un-deciding till wee hours.

The funniest thing happened on the second night. The guides under pressure to guide, decided to take the entire group to a performance. Those who were shy of such things could shop as an alternative. So, we hired two buses. As one should guess, one bus never moved out!!

So, we all entered a special building with pics of dancing girls outside and I realised they were foreigners... I think from Russia. We had to deposit our mobiles with cameras outside and everyone entered...

As we entered I saw these topless girls gyrating with this guy in just shorts and the guy was dark and Indian. That was surprising, I wondered? In Thailand. Anyways, maybe its a kinky thing they do here for some audience maybe - because typically its only white people and thai people on the floor.

After 5 minutes, my friend with me mentioned - "say that guy looks like Ravi?" "No", I answered immediately, watching the guy now in just his undies, all wet, with the lathering soap the girls were rubbing all over his body. And then there hands were going all over inside... "No way it can be him.. what a funny thought"

after a few minutes, it was just too hard for our minds to ignore that this guy just looked too much like one of our group!! And then it struck us... it was him!!!

The whole group was jealous like hell and morally up!!! Well, this was real funny, especially when the show was over our friend got up and bowed at the entire audience like a professional.

However cheap, I was all admiration for this guys abilities and guts.... LOLz.

Anyways, the last night was a private but less revealing dance show organised for all in the hotel grounds. And it was amazing seeing all the sozzled guys dancing with the girls. I got some photographs that I can blackmail them with... with their wifes...forever. Lolz again. Faces staring non-stop into the girls top. Faces of anticipation at a girl who was trying to avoid the guy. They are real funny and downright cheap!!! That night it did not matter to anyone if I told that half of the dancers were actually ladyboys... they had graduated beyond that issue!!!

Althrough this time, everyone was curious, " So where do you go when you come to Thailand?" "Nowhere you would" I would respond honestly.

One of the nights after dinner one of my friends who works near Pattaya, in an industrial town, came to meet me in his flashy SUV. And I had a real hard time leaving the others. They just would not accept that I was not going to someplace that was special and I was hiding from them!!!

Considering that we have nothing like Pattaya in India ( We have, but not something these guys will ever notice... its amazing how the mind or society works) I actually kind of came to accept that I should not accept any other interest from the group, during the nights, but this. After all its just 3 days for them, in an otherwise 99% family life.

Its amazing how people never noticed the number of similarities of Thailand to back home.

Or is it? Watching their strong and pressing drive, I really wonder how we manage to be so sober in our own country for so long? Or do they? Maybe I do not know.

At night, do it another country. Your own country will approve!

Not me, though. I live a slightly different world... for whatever reason. I am the same everywhere, I think, a little bit of this... a little bit of that... in India... in Thailand. I am no prude, I have been everywhere sure. But will always look into the eyes of the people I have ever met, anytime, anywhere.


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