The weekend is here again in the Land of smiles. I congratulate myself as I realize I have gone a whole month without indulging in the alluring Bangkok nightlife,heck i can’t remember the last Singha or Chang I took. I guess this supports the case that probably we indulge alot in fun/crazy times in the midst of well intending but misleading friends..is that what they call being influenced by peer pressure?
Anyhow,as the topic suggests I am up to a good cause today – Feeling Mr. Nice guy. Alongside newly made friends and colleagues on this part of the world,a trip to Bangkok’s surburbs has been arranged in support of one corporate intiative referred to as the Bata Childrens’ Program(BCP). I take it that being well into the festive season,alot of CSR activites roll about this time..with the BCP program purposefully targeted for underprivelged school going kids around the world.
I enjoy my bus ride to the suburb area of Ayutthaya.I am told that this was the former capital city of Ancient Thailand i.e Siam, well over 2,000 years ago.Wait,I have to mention this is my first ride on a double deck bus,no much difference from an ordinary ground floor bus ride whilst on the inside,yet staring the bus from the outside,leaves me with a slight feeling of inner triumph – talk about a first, yaey!
The bus ride takes a cummulative 2 hours I guess,factoring a 20 minute loo stop over at one of the gas stations enroute. Two T.V sets are on the upper deck of the bus,(did’nt check the lower one). Thai love their music,thus a number of Thai music videos are played to the delight of everyone,with the ‘karaoke like’ lyricals as subtitles. The choregraphy of most of the videos look quite impressive I must say. Luckily however,I have a copy of a book I have been reading, “Pattaya,Patpong on Steriods” by Duncan Stearn, an interesting coverage of the go-go bar scene in the resort city of Pattaya – Interesting read.
The Charity Event
Finally arrived at the Watpramoong School. Ayutthaya presents an upcountry sort of scenary..less high rise buildings,more of rice paddy plantations.The area was severely affected in the 2011 flush floods that engulfed the Kingdom,number of homes were submerged,property lost..can’t imagine water levels reaching 4 feet height levels!
I have not participated in many charity events in the past. I am more of a passive particpant I guess,what with availing clothing,food stuff when my local church comes calling or announces this in the ‘weekly briefing’.On reflection,on a corporate level I have not been much of an active participant either..my mind has always been focussed on delivering business results while hoping that there will be volunteers to make enough numbers for the charity events….
Alighting from the bus and approaching the tent for briefing of the day,we are welcomed by smiling innocent faces of boys and girls between ages 5 and 12 years. Now not many greetings come as close to the Wai,in terms of showing respect and gracefulness.The Wai is the gentle bow with hands clasped in an angelic,prayer like format. Coming from the 200’ish kids gathered,there is an almost transmutation of ‘we are deeply honoured by your coming’, that seems to sweep the air.. dont see that in many kids nowadays huh..!
With the introductions and customary protocol over,the group of around 100 who have made the trip are invited to join the different segments of volunteer work available. Cooking,Farming,Planting and Painting are up for grabs. I love to eat,not cook..I like to to live in a painted house but not to paint..so I will skip those two..my lizard brain comes calling.
Farming and planting appeals to me,I come from a people who are natural farmers..so I think that is endearing enough..Then again,i have been working on set of body muscles,so the activity and the sweat will do me good!!!
And a natural I am,my farm skills are evident,the way I till the soil,break the small boulders,level the ground and sprinkle water is definately way above average for this city dweller. Two hours later,our farm project is complete,with an additional top up of planting trees within the compound,playing some soccer and chipping in with the paint work…..ok,not much,the painting appeared to need some fair amount of skill.
They say the way to a man’s heart,is through his stomach..I reckon the way to a Thai’s heart is through good Thai food. And that my friends we just could not have enough of..the dishes kept coming..from fish to chicken,broccoli,fruit you name it. I will admit that I am rather poor in describing Thai cuisine,I just basically indulge in it..knowing the basic dish to look out is rice and chicken with an array of sauces..I love those.
But what made the lunch more fascinating was the joyful atmosphere,the smiles and interest in ensuring that eveyone is eating their full. I have come to appreciate the little bowls used in having your meal,that the syntax is all about serving your amount of rice for instance,then topping it up with some chicken,the soup and some sauces..once you finish,you repeat again and this time try a hand on fish,then some vegetables..and the cycle repeats itself, be sure to be alerted if your bowl appears empty,someone will be ready to hand you the rice bowl for a refill.
The ‘I did good’ feeling
Have you ever felt the desire to fulfil something gratifying? Many of us are accustomed to going to a church,mosque,temple… to connect with a superior being in the hope of getting blessings, your heart desires.
My take home has been that you can do so much more than the mainstream..A connection or time with a 5 year old who does not enjoy 3 meals a day or with a kid who does not know the father, can definately leave a positive mark in that child’s life.
So as Christmas beckons,I choose to do much more than take the ‘comfy backseat’,while someone else walks the talk.
I thank you for taking time to read this. I hope you enjoyed my story and hopefully,that you will do something small in your own way that is sure to impact someone in a Big way. Talk about good Karma!!
To learn more and participate in a cause to change and improve the life of kids in different countries, please visit..http://www.batachildrensprogram.org/