Tonight after dinner I sat and listened to about 2 hours worth of stories from the guard where I live. I learned a ton! Some of it was really sad, some of it was strange, most of it was just fun to listen to. A lot of it seems too personal to share with the world. I will share a little.
His grandmother (or some old lady he knows, the language is ambiguous) is 104 years old! I learned this while listening to his account of living in a village. Living in a village is definitely his choice. He spent several years at various times working in Bangkok, to make money to send home, first to his mother, and more recently to his wife. Currently he is living here as my guard, again so he can send money home/save it. The money he is making here that is good enough to keep him away from his family is one seventh the amount I’m being payed (though he does have a free room).
His goal is to build his own house so he can live with his wife and son. Once he has enough money apparently it will just be a matter of days to construct the house. He said his brother’s house was built in three days by him, his brother, and their stepfather (he used the phrase พอ่เลี้ยง, meaning the father that raised us) (his biological father, who regularly beat his older brother severely, died as a result of drunk driving when he was thirteen).
House building took us to the advantages of the kind of house he will build, a traditional village house. A traditional house is well ventilated and doesn’t trap heat in the roof. So in the evening it cools off quickly. In the village the house tends to be an evening only place anyway. Daytime is spent working or sitting under pavilions, or, if the house is raised, under the house. Also, his house will have a wooden (not concrete or tile) floor. Therefore, people can sleep on it and sit on it without needing cushions (I’m not entirely convinced that I would be entirely comfortable).
Currently, his wife lives in his stepfather’s house. His stepfather lives in his mother’s house. His stepfather’s children live in Bangkok. He and his wife used to live in his wife’s parents home, but her parents have seven kids (many of whom have kids of their own). So, it was too loud there. In addition, her mother didn’t like him. The bride price he paid was less than that paid for some of her sisters.
Following the ol’ stream of conscious is making a mess. Back to why my guard likes to live in a village: In a village people don’t buy food. They หา food. (หา is hard for me to translate without feeling that I’m cheating the word of it’s richness. The dictionary tells me it means “to search, to seek, to inspect, to look; to meet; to visit.” I guess that’s pretty good). Examples my guard gave of หาing food include หาfish, หาcrayfish, หาfrogs, หาlizards, หาweeds/herbs/vegetables.
In my guard’s eyes, if you live in the village, if you want to rest, you rest. If you want to eat, you หา food. You can follow your heart. Also, unlike people who make their living selling things, people in a village are more active. Fetching water from the river or the well does much more to keep your legs in working order than standing behind a counter or a food cart. (This is about the place were I learned that grandma is 104 years old.)
Furthermore, in the village one can ask friends to help. Help build a house, help cast nets for (หา) fish, help plant rice, help harvest rice. Among friends, payment is not expected (though dinner and alcohol are). Then you in turn will help your friends and be fed dinner and beer by them.
Throughout the conversation my guard’s admiration of his wife’s industriousness was quite evident. Not only is she able to do everything (make all kinds of food, fish, farm rice, make roofing thatch, raise cattle, etc) she is quite dedicated to the carrying out of these tasks. He encouraged me to be very careful in choosing a wife. So far so good. He also encouraged me to find a wife who loves me a lot, but not to worry about whether I loved her. He said if I love her too much, she will see it, and then there will be no end of trouble, because she will know that she can get anything out of me. I think when I’m married I’ll risk it; I’ll go ahead and let my wife know that I love her.