Monday, August 2, 2010

Hello, Young Lovers

Public displays of affection between adults are seldom seen in Thailand. That's not to say you won't see people hug or occasionally see one Thai give another a peck on the cheek, but overt displays are considered bad manners at best, even if there's no exact phrase in Thai for "Hey! Get a room, you two!"

I think it's a social quality to be admired, myself; but I'm getting to be of an age of shifting moral opinions so readily admit I may not be the most impartial judge of such things. The Thai are a caring and affectionate people, but it's shown in more subtle ways: a compliment, an offering to share food, a small gift, maybe a pat on the back.

Sometimes friends of the same sex walk hand in hand there, but it has a far more innocent meaning than it would in the West; denoting nothing more than friendship. What you don't see is tongue wrestling, where a couple sits in public somewhere and "swap spit" as we used to say back in the Paleozoic era. Nowadays it seems to happen almost everywhere in the West; maybe the cost of gum has risen to a point where it must be shared, I don't know - but it seems to me groping and fondling just seem to be something better done without quite so many others in attendance as witnesses. Call me crazy.

In a round about way that leads me to the post today. The young man in the photo above had been working on a construction site in an area where I was wandering around one noontime (mad dogs and Englishmen and all that). Tired, I'd stopped in a shady spot to people watch.

Off a short ways away and out of the line of sight of the others on the job site I spotted two people on the ground. Being as nosy as the next guy (maybe more so) I moved over to a position with a better view, wondering at first if perhaps one of them was injured and was being given medical attention of some sort. That wasn't the case; the two were a couple. I'll never know if they were married or dating or something in-between, but it was a scene as gentle and caring as you'd ever want to see, and indicative of both the people and the culture.

Once I realized the site was shut down for a mid-day lunch break (the empty bottles and small containers near them bore evidence of a meal just finished) it was obvious the young woman had come by to visit her man and now sat with his head in her lap, gently stroking his hair while he lay contentedly, eyes closed. He was motionless except for the occasional small smile while she cradled his head and spoke softly to him.

I felt a little guilty watching them, but there was an ease and kindness that warmed this old heart of mine. Far too soon a sharp call came from the foreman, and the man reluctantly sat up, rubbed his eyes and stood, stepping back into his rubber sandals. The woman looked around and then gave him a quick kiss on the lips before gathering up the remains of their lunch, waving as he went back to work.

1 comment:

krobbie said...

I enjoyed your insight into this photo. I have also notice that displays of affection in public are kept to a hand holding minimum ... unless it is a farang and a Thai couple whereby the Western influence is obvious and not always in a seemly fashion. Yikes!