Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting Caught Up

Many things have occurred since my last blog.

I have edited some more photographs. The result is a new gallery of Maehongson on my photography website

http://www.hale-worldphotography.com/Travel/Maehongson-December-2007/9739423_FNQuv/1/659455871_BxcgM

Duang has been to the doctor and had most of the cotton packing removed form her ears. We have to return on Saturday to have the stitches removed. So far it has been a good experience for everyone involved.

We have seen Peelawat, our 7 month old Grandson, twice. He has developed a couple new behaviors that make me wonder if humor is not genetically embedded rather cultural. He can now stand up on a chair leaning forward and grasping the chair back with his hand for balance. We had to take Duang's mother to the Regional Cancer Center for a checkup. Duang was busy with her mother so I got to take care of Peelawat while we waited and waited and waited some more. Peelawat and his father had taken her to the center earlier in the morning. They then drove the truck to our home so that we could drive them all back to Tahsang Village before we returned home with the truck. The son-in-law had borrowed the truck in order to take one of the 93 cousins to the hospital because "she was crazy". As is so typical here in Isaan, you don't go to the doctor or hospital alone. In the case of the cousin, two babies and four adults accompanied her on her visit. Apparently she got additional medicine for her epilepsy. She sometimes behaves weirdly which I am certain has nothing to do with her epilepsy. I might suggest that these behaviors warrant some therapy but everyone including she were happy at getting the medicine to control seizures. In Isaan, if you have a truck, you are often called upon to provide taxi and ambulance service for the extended family. Sometimes you might even get some gas money!



While I was taking care of Peelawt during our 3 hour wait for Duang's mother to be finished at the Regional Center, Peelawat put on a show. He held his bottle of water and was able to place it in and out of his mouth with one hand to drink for the first time. After drinking some water he would take the bottle out his mouth, and look at me with a big toothless grin bordering on laughing and twinkling eyes as if to say "Hey look what I can do!" This suggested to me that perhaps he had a sense of humor. His next behavior convinced me that he definitely has a sense of humor - even at 7 months. He would take his bottle and bite down on the nipple with his gums as hard as he could. He would then pull the nipple out of his mouth making a loud popping sound as the nipple snapped out like an elastic. Peelawat would keep this routine going for 4 or 5 sequences with each sequence interrupted by a huge toothless grin with drool dripping from his chin. He was grinning ear to ear as if he was taking pride in his "joke". Peelawat enjoyed the hospital, much more than me, and entertained himself looking at everyone and everything. He did not cry during the entire three hours.

Duang's mother is apparently fine. The chest rattling and all consuming cough that she has had for the past 3 years that I have known her is due to "too much sun and too much rain". I am learning something new everyday. Something new, but I am not sure that it is always true.

When we were back in Tahsang Village we sat outside socializing with the villagers and relatives. The village dogs all started to bark, more than usual, as a pick up truck roamed slowly through the village. The back of the pick up truck had a large wire enclosure built over it. Inside amongst the many baskets and debris inside the cage, I saw many dogs packed in the cage. The dogs seemed rather forlorn and not just due to their physical state. These were not some one's pets. These were village and Wat dogs. Dogs that are accustomed to fending for themselves. I had a pretty good idea what this was all about but I asked Duang anyhow.

She told me that the man went around picking up problem dogs. The Lao Loum people of Isaan villages live with dogs. The dogs are more tolerated than cared for or considered as members of the family. Small children may play with a dog some what but the term "It's a dog's life" seems to apply to Isaan. The dogs hang around and scrounge for what food they can get from their "masters". Many dogs hang around the Wats where food is more available and the Monks are certain to not persecute them. From my understanding from Duang, is that this man goes around and buys dogs that are a "problem". He then sells the dogs to be eaten by some people. I don't know of any dog markets in Udonthani but I have been told with some disdain that some markets in Sakon Nakhon Province do sell dog meat. Now I have an idea where they get it from - no ranch, farm or feed lot. Just as interstingly, I was assured that the people who ate dogs were Central Thai people or Lao Thoeng (Upland Lao) or Lao Soung (High Lao) but not Lao Loum. I often write and a theme that I try to maintain is how much people are so much alike. Here is another example. Every where that I have travelled I have encountered some type of bias against some ethnic group or certain peoples. The names of the victims changes from country to country and region to region but the sin of Pride that motivates it is constant.

We are better than them because they ...

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