Me, Trish and her visiting friend Tiela decided to drop by because everyone around town had their tongues wagging about this event all day last Tuesday. My students in particular were pretty inquisitive, if not insistent, on my attendance. Trisha's fellow teacher kept calling her that afternoon in talks of a rendezvous. When we walked out of our house, the highway was lined with cars and trucks on end, and crowds of people walking towards the army base donning pink shirts and bearing Thai flags on sticks. Everyone wearing pink means serious business.
|A blurry vision of the band onstage (pre-recognition)|
|EVERY PERSON wearing pink and dancing with Thai flags|
It was only after walking around the backstage and circumnavigating the mud did I realize how special this festival was. After many overnight bus rides, it is impossible not to recognize the famous Thai band Carabao (in their youth, two of the band members studied in the Philippines!) with their videos and music playing loud and clear on the stereo. I was supremely excited when I realized it was them singing on stage, and even asked if the girl was collaborating with them! I was less than a hundred feet away from Thai superstars! How lucky was I?!
It was a treat to watch the usual villagers unzipped of their daily preoccupations and rock out to the music. I really wish that I had acquired enough Thai at this point to sing along. Nevertheless I had a great time swaying to the beat of the music and marveling at the band's exceptional guitar skills (read: MAD skillz).
At points during the night, when I again receded into the depths of my thinking, the base aligning to the tempo of my heartbeats, I began to think of how the King has, and continues to be a unifying force for the country all across socio-economic lines, as well as a vanguard for the nation's self-identity. Such reflection turned inward, and I then started to wonder what were the unifying, overarching forces that held me together during the year. These will be explored at a later post. For now, I am amazed at how seamless my integration into my community turned out to be. I did it-- it happened without my conscious awareness--I had acclimated in Thailand psychologically, spiritually and emotionally, at some points gradually and some dramatically. With my last two weeks here in Nakhon Phanom, it is so difficult to live in the present with the past and future tense and demanding my attention and reflection. I am striving to recognize the gift of every day, the present, while trying to have a healthy balance of looking at my life in retrospect, and pragmatically looking ahead.
The only way to achieve this for now, is not to let moment like Carabao run past me while I linger in my thoughts. So I am resolved, for the next couple of weeks to relish the present, mindful of the richness of my past and ever-so hopeful for my future. Here's to rocking out my 11 months in Thailand!