One year. That’s how long I’ve lived in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udom Ratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanu Kamprasit (กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทราอยุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์). This roughly translates as “The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam,” according to Wikipedia.
So where do I find myself after a year? It seems like it should be a momentous accomplishment.
The condominia being built in my neighborhood – five of which I can see from my balcony – are all much further along in construction. That’s one sure sign of progress. The new airport opening is another, although there are a lot of reports that it still has a lot of details to be worked out: Airports of Thailand, the operator, has announced they will install 200 more toilets, increasing the number to 300. That’s right, only 100 toilets originally.
How do I feel about a year? Very good. I can say that I have been free of any regrets about my move, at any point in the past year. Truly, there has been no point at which I’ve questioned the decision. While I’m not sure that I will want to live in this city for the rest of my life, I’m certain that I want to be here, now. Maybe somewhere quieter like Chiang Mai or Mae Hong Son in the future.
Taay phom phuut aan gap kien pasathai dai ru plow? (But am I able to speak, read, and write Thai or not?) I’m still two weeks away from my one-year anniversary or studying, and I took one or two breaks along the way for holidays and visitors. Still, I have made some really good progress: I can read and write at or around a first-grade level (but much more neatly as my motor skills surpass most six-year olds’!) I can speak at about the same level, too, although most Thai six-year olds have me beat when it comes to that. This is especially true since they’ve been exposed to slang and idiomatic expressions since birth.
How are things with Tawn? In our nearly seven years together, we’ve had two periods (11 and 14 months, respectively) when our relationship has been long-distance. After that second period there was a lot of re-learning how to live together. He became used to living at home with his parents and I acclimated to living on my own and being around my family. It took several months to re-synchronise our living habits.
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-chaaanges,” as David Bowie sang, “just gonna have to be a different man.” Living here, living within the Thai culture, has had an effect on me. I can sense it and am sometimes acutely aware of it, although I think the effect is measured glacially. Very broadly, Thai culture’s critique of Western culture (they would never say it to your face, though) is one of, “you think too much.” That would be a very appropriate diagnosis of what ails me, no doubt. And I think that, one year on, I’ve learned a bit and reflected a bit and – at least in some small way – have started to think a little less.
Not “think less” in an intellectual sense, since these blog entries are a reflection that I consider and think about my surrounding world regularly. Instead, “think less” in the sense of being less concerned about details that are ultimately not very relevant. Much like that pop-psychology self-help question, “will I remember this a year from now?” If the answer is “no,” then it probably isn’t worrying about.
Tawn may entirely disagree as there still seem to be plenty of occassions where I’m the one worrying about details, details, details. Must plan. Must-have-a-plan.
Still, I think, some progress there.
I believe that Great Opportunities abound; you simply have to open yourself to experiencing them. This year has brought a plentitude of opportunities to me. I have met many, many interesting people and have developed a few good friendships. I have encountered the school at Bang khon thii nai (which re-opens today after a month holiday) and the teachers and students there, seeing a side of Thai life I would otherwise never see. I have been able to share my experiences of this place with others, visitors both physical and virtual.
Most of all, though, I’ve been able to be together with the man I love and keep building a life together. Not just to “be together,” but also to “be,” together. And that’s been a great experience.