My new family

[b]Welcome back [/b]

Nothing special happened today, so instead of boring you, let me back up a little bit and write about last Sunday and yesterday.

Return of an old friend

Two days ago I went to Isaan (Northeastern region of Thailand) to be reunited with a long-time friend of mine: my keyboard! I missed it so much for the last couple of weeks! Now I brought it back to Samut Prakan, along with some other of my belongings I used during the month I spent in Isaan. You see, I am an amateur musician, learning songs by ear only. You should have seen the surprised faces of the locals when I played morlam to them the first time! Morlam is a kind of Thai folk music; you can hear its pleasant tunes everywhere in Thailand, but its center is in Isaan. It is quite unusual for most Farang (Caucasian foreigner) to listen to – let alone play! – morlam.

My new family

If you were in Thailand yesterday, you might have noticed the tiny temporary shrines that cropped up in front of houses all across the country, like mushrooms after the spring rain. You might also have observed gatherings around the spirithouses early in the morning. Welcome to วันสารทจีน (wan saad jiin), a ceremony of Chinese origin. Its main purpose is to pay respect to the family ancestors (not “ancestor worship”, as many Westerners mistakenly call it).This is also the time to express gratitude to machinesin offices and factories. This is an intriguing, new concept that I have come across only in Asia. Unlike in the West, the machines here are treated as ones with identities; not merely tools, but active participants in the business. From this point of view, it is only logical to express gratitude to them.

So how exactly is this done? Mom, Sis and I got up early in the morning (5AM) to prepare all the fruits, rice, whole chickens, kanom (Chinese sweets), water, tea, alcohol, and of course, incense sticks. We arranged them in a neat order on a table in front of the building and in the office. Then we lighted the incense sticks and said a brief prayer to the ancestors. This was very important for me, as it signified that I became part of the family.

Afterwards, we put the incense sticks on the items on the table. After all the incense sticks had burnt away, the food was ready to be eaten. Eating from this food brings good luck, according to local belief. So, I must have gathered much luck that day. Come to think of it, that’s actually true. I became part the most loveable family I had for the last five years.

Off again until next time. Be good and take care!

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