Friday, June 4, 2010

Thai Smiles, Part 7: Kids

There's something about the joyful exuberance and innocence of children that renews my faith in the overall goodness of the human spirit.

I'm not ignoring the reality of poverty, disease or other unfortunate situations, but more often than not theirs is a world of pure, unadulterated happiness; an innocence so many leave behind when they take off their mortarboards and enter the world as their schooling ends.

Thai people seem to maintain a better attitude towards life overall, but even they lose some of that impish sparkle to their eyes as they move through adolescence, much as we here in the West do. Nevertheless, there's a lot there that does my old heart good.

Kids have often been exceptional subjects for photographs while I've been out wandering on my morning and late afternoon walks, although as an outsider there is often caution needed to avoid being viewed as one of those "strangers" we were all warned not to speak to. I make others nearby aware that I am there with a camera and do my best to greet whoever the child is with before speaking to or photographing the kid - hopefully a parent or guardian who can give tacit permission of some sort. Having a decent zoom on the camera helps.

As this is hopefully a source of information for those who are still learning about Thailand (and that covers almost anyone who might read this, if they're being honest) let me mention as a random fact that it's not acceptable to touch the top of someone's head in Thailand. We'll go into the "whys" another time, but it's a strong belief, so ruffling a kid's hair isn't taken well
at all, regardless of how cute you think they are. Some believe it actually takes years off of the child's life.

Add to that the world-wide problem of adults who would stoop to touching a child inappropriately to the mix - a sad fact in many developing nations that are also tourist destinations - and you understand why I keep a respectful distance.
That said, the children of Asia in general are a heartwarming and delightful bunch, well worth a snapshot or twenty as they go about their daily lives there. One example is the group of "hunters" below were on some sort of an adventure in the drainage canal next to my hotel one afternoon, hunting for who knows what with their machetes.

Another would be the three girls below who were all at different food carts when I came by one morning. As I was preparing to take a photo of the one in pink her friends noticed and came running from either side to join in with her. They all giggled like crazy when they saw their image on the view screen.

More to come soon...

No comments: