When I lived in the States, I felt that I was a more tolerant than average person. I made a conscious effort – and largely a successful one, I think – to not prejudge people I saw or met. Walking down the street, I would not categorize people on first look and I tried to radiate compassion towards everyone.
Somewhere along the process of moving to Khrungthep, my compassion burned out, my prejudices returned, and new ones were born.
As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, when I’m walking down the street here in the Big Mango, I make perfunctory judgements about many of the people I see. For the most part, I’m making these judgements about farang as I don’t know as many of the cultural signifiers for Thais as I do for westerners. There are some exceptions, of course. I can spot the Money Boy and the Hi So pretty easily.
Among the farang I can recognize instantly the Clueless Tourist, the Angry American, the Drunk Aussie (easily confused with the Drunk Brit and somewhat less easily with the Drunk German), the Sexpat (homo and hetero versions), the Lonely Planet Backpacker and the Gone Native.
Let me be the first to admit that it is inherently unfair to others and unskillful to my own growth as a person to have relapsed into this prejudicial shorthand. I know that and am actively trying to relearn the lessons I was much better at living while in the United States. It just seems that there are so many people who so readily live up to these various categories of farang that it is easy to lazily slip into the habit of categorizing them instead of getting to know them first.
All of which must make me the archetypical Self-Righteous Expat, subgenus Holier Than Thou Anthropologist.
Hopefully that is not the case!