The media offers us just a narrow perspective on particular stories based on the particular angles from which those stories are reported. This is compounded when the media covers a story far away in a another country, a country with a political system different from your own. As a comparison, look at the room you are sitting in through a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels and you’ll get an idea of how little you are seeing and how little that narrow view helps you understand what is going on.
These truths are always useful to keep in mind, but especially for those of you overseas, sitting there wondering what in the world is going on in Thailand right now.
Let’s be clear: there are clashes between protesters, groups of who number in the low thousands, and the police. These clashes have increased in intensity and there has been some violence, although the police and the Prime Minister have been remarkably restrained. Likewise, the army has declined to get directly involved.
Additionally, three airports in the country were shut down by protesters (Krabi, Phuket and Hat Yai), the trains have shut down because of strikes and unions at THAI Airways are being encouraged by the protesters to stage work stoppages in support of them.
Many sources, included some contacts we have who were “in the know” about the last coup, have warned us that things will come to a head this weekend. Either the Prime Minister will resign and dissolve parliament, leading to new elections, or he will take action to end the protests with force. It will probably get worse before it gets better.
That being said, the areas where these protests are happening are pretty limited. In Khrungthep (Bangkok) they are mostly at key locations in the old city, Ratanokosin Island. If you walk just a few blocks north from the Grand Palace and then make a right on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, you would run into police barricades and a few blocks later, the protesters.
For the rest of us, those of us living anywhere else, life continues as normal. For now. (Side note for those of you who are interested: The Nation newspaper has a very good brief history of modern Thai politics. It will give you a good rundown and help put this event in some context.)
Since life is continuing as normal, let me share some of it with you. You’ll find it quite mundane.
During dinner with Steve on Wednesday at Thon Krueng restaurant, I noticed that the pieces of carrot in the vegetable stir-fry looked like they had been intentionally carved to resemble animals. The one on the top looks (to me) like the profile of a cow’s head, looking to the right. Or maybe a moose? Those could be antlers. The lighter core of the carrot is right about where the eye would be. The bottom carrot looks like a crab.
What do you think?
Stopping by Paragon to meet Chris and Tehlin earlier in the week, I parked at the Siam Centre car park and then walked across the plaza between the two malls. The plaza was being set up for another event, this one for Levi’s 501 jeans. I took this shot from the backstage area. You can see the Siam BTS Skytrain station in the background. Their sound check was very loud. Everything here is, so I guess the sound was at the correct volume.
This week, I tried a new sourdough whole wheat bread recipe from the book I recently finished: Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and One Raucous Year of Eating Locally. The recipe I’ve used previously is too wet. I know that it is better for bread dough to be a little wet rather than too dry, but it is impossible to handle. It sticks to my hands and everything else, no matter how much flour is added.
This new recipe turned out a loaf that was just about perfect. The right size, the right shape, the right texture and – best of all – only a little sticky.
Don’t I look just like a proud father?
Here’s a look inside. Note the texture – it’s just about perfect for a general purpose slice-and-eat sandwich bread.
Finally, Friday night Stuart and I met at Roadhouse Barbecue on the corner of Surawongse and Rama IV for a Democrats Abroad Thailand event: watching (a tape delayed version of) Barack Obama’s acceptance speech. There were at least 150 people there and the owner let us have the run of the second floor.
This is about 1/3 of the total floor space and there was another TV to the far right of the room. In the middle area we had t-shirt sales featuring the new “Thailand for Obama” logo, left, and voter registration. That will be one of my areas of volunteer focus the next month: getting people registered.
Too many US citizens living or traveling abroad don’t know that they have the right to vote.
If you or someone you know would like more information – especially if you know any Americans who will be abroad during the November 4th election – please visit www.votefromabroad.org.
Here is a brief video just to give you a little feel of the event:
Not much, but you get the idea.
Lots of cooking today (Saturday) as I get ready for some brunch guests tomorrow. I’ll share more of those pictures later.