Just a story from Thailand

I love having a blog, but sometimes I run out of things to write about. I post at least every Friday, its Thursday already, and I still have to write that weekly blog post. I sit in front of the computer and nothing comes to mind. I stare at the blank screen of the word processor. Nada. Nichts. I check the news, what’s Putin doing now? 🙈 Shute.

I move to bed, it is almost eight o’clock and soon I can fall asleep with dignity, when its nine o’clock. Yes, I am old, I sleep early, and I sleep poorly. But today I can’t fall asleep. War in Europe? Seriously? I pick up my iPad, and a window pops up with memories from 2019: my trip to Thailand, in March. So many photos. I close my eyes, and I remember a story.

My story is simple, quick, peaceful, and I think its worth telling to accompany the featured photograph.

We were a crew of five entomologists and a driver, traveling through Thailand to collect fruit flies for a research project. Thankfully, four of us spoke Thai, but unfortunately, I was not one of them. One hot and humid morning, like every morning in the Loei province, we stopped alongside the road to explore a banana field. The entire crew grabbed their nets and disappeared into the fields, while I stayed near the van. I don’t remember why I stayed behind, I only remember that I did.

After a few minutes alone, I looked to the side and noticed a large bunch of bananas on the ground, by the roadside. Behind it, an elderly man, smiling. When he saw that I had seen him, he started talking to me, in Thai.

Make no mistake, in Thailand, smiles are the default. There, they believe that a smile solves many problems, and it is very rare to see someone frown. I wondered if he was mad at me. My colleagues and I were literally trespassing, walking into the fields without having asked for permission, and I wasn’t in a position to explain myself. I don speak a word in Thai. I don’t understand a word either. And the crew was nowhere near.

Our conversation lasted what seemed a long time. I have been in many situations with languages in foreign countries, but I usually can at least say, “ I don’t speak your language”. Not in Thai. So I sat there, looking at the man while he talked, and with my iPad, the only camera i had with me, I snapped the shot above.

When the crew returned, we learned that the banana man was the property owner. The bananas were a gift to let us know that he was not upset with us. He lived alone, worked the land, and was happy that we stopped by.

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Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

18 thoughts on “Just a story from Thailand

  1. What a wonderful story and emotive photo! Never would have guessed you made it with an iPad. My son went to Thailand about two years ago and loved it. If only the whole world had gratitude like this fellow.

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    1. On my second day in Thailand, I broke my camera and lens. The iPad an phone is all I had left for nearly three weeks. I’m glad your son liked Thailand. I wish I had more time to explore, but I was there for work.

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  2. The photo is wonderful. Such a kind, direct expression on the man’s face, and a delightful story. It reminded me of my first week in Liberia. A small boy showed up at my door with an entire stalk of bananas on his head. He asked if I “wanted banana.” I said that I did, and asked how much they would cost. He asked for a dollar, which of course seemed more than reasonable. What I didn’t expect was for him to take the dollar and leave the entire stalk on the kitchen floor — about a hundred bananas! After checking around, I learned it was customary for two or three families to share a stalk!

    Your mention of traveling with entomologists reminded me of another story. Many years ago I was with a group at the home of friends, drinking wine and just talking. We got onto the subject of gravestones, and were sharing the epitaphs we’d like to have on our stones. One woman, who happened to be an entomologist, said if she had a choice, she’s go with “Maybe Now You’ll Stop Bugging Me!” One couple, who happened to be news broadcasters, went with “Stay Tuned ~ We’ll Be Right Back.” That was the night I decided — given my occupation — my epitaph should read, “She Varnished From Our Sight.”

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