Pigeon-holing Farang

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!


7 thoughts on “Pigeon-holing Farang

  1. I think we are all guilty of doing that.  Though I do like the title you gave yourself.  Now if you print that on your business cards lets hope your not paying by the letter.

  2. god even i who have loved lived and worked with farangs all my life, still get the drunken, debauched, jaded, self-righteous all mixed up.

  3. It is extremely difficult not to judge. Perhaps it is more important to recognize what you do with the judgements you make. Do you still approach in an effort to get to know, or ignore and move on?

  4. i think mine is not prejudice…erm, perhaps i have been meeting ppl from all walks of life& over the world… my heart will directly tell me whether the person i have met is worth to stay in touch with me or not, so apparently you have passed! =)  congrats~

  5. Now you are truly a citizen of the world Chris. When we travel and meet different peoples of the world, we see each of them with different colors.  When I lived in India, I was like you, naiive, trusting and compassionate and felt no prejudice, because all of us were alike, in color, clothes, education etc. After I moved here, I was educated in the gradations of prejudice, good and bad, and have learnt to hide the feelings under my eyelids. It truly is very difficult not to judge. And like ^^ says, the crux of it all, is what you do with the prejudicial judgement. I know it is sometimes difficult to ignore, and sits in your conscience like a ton of bricks.
    Very very nice post dear friend.

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