Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Collected Notes #7 - Privilege

Thai Skirts and Magazines

At my little house on the research station, I went downstairs, got a glass of water, lit a cigarette, and went outside and sat on a small stool and smoked and sipped and watched the stars.  I was wearing my traditional skirt, called a pakama.  Mine was a gift from some villagers.
 Men wear skirts in Thailand.  At least the men that are part of the traditional culture.  This is not so visible if you stick to the larger towns and cities and highways of the country.  It's really quite amazing.  You could go there and work and live your life away without ever seeing how about seventy percent of the people live.  They are not far away, but just far enough off the highway that, without a concerted effort, you do not see them.  When village men come out of their villages they put on their one pair of pants and a t-shirt.  You would never know that there was another way to dress or live, a way that is far more comfortable and simple than the rat race costume that so many people on this planet have gotten themselves into.
So why is it that, in so many places, traditional people are handing over their history in order to join this God forsaken, consumption based, energy insane path to destruction on which we are hell bent?
Seems like madness.  Except that I know and you know that, at the same time, there are a lot of people not so willing.  At least I suspect that such proud people are everywhere I go.  You and me, because we are thinking about this?  Tuaregs.  Tibetans.  Saudis.  Why are they so damned hard to see?
Well, for one thing, when they are with me they probably wear pants and a t-shirt, rather than strutting about making a loud statement.  For farmers, pants and t-shirts are cheap.  Unless you go looking in odd places, the media, television, magazines make money off the popular and status quo world over.  GQ and Chatelaine do not do loin cloths.
Sitting there, outside my little house on the eastern edge of Thailand’s Esan, I noted that I had been blinded by having the privilege to wear pretty much anything I felt like wearing, including the pakama I wore at the moment.  Privilege to wear.  Privilege to do.
I drew on my cigarette and felt small under the canopy of stars.

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