There is only one rule I go by during my current trip home.
Do NOT bring up politics with family or friends.
Nowadays in Thailand, for some people, you are either the Yellow Shirt (PAD-People’s Alliance for Democracy) or Red Shirt (Anti-PAD).
I have talked to many friends from both sides of the fences. The Yellow Shirts are out and about, strutting proudly while all the “Red Shirts” I know are closeted ones.
Everywhere you go, at some point it will come up. As much as everyone seems to avoid talking about politics, you really just can’t ignore the elephant in the room.
Sometimes people would just make a few jokes about their side just to ease the tension, and the conversation moves on to something else.
I’ve made conversation with chartered van driver in Phuket who would come up to Bangkok to join PAD mob in a heartbeat if he doesn’t have a family to worry about. I’ve talked to a Red Shirt cabby who wouldn’t take any Yellow Shirt passengers. I’ve heard of the uncles and aunties getting dropped off at PAD rally by their Mercedes’ and BMW’s. I’ve listened to a daughter fighting with her mother trying to explain what democracy really means.
I have heard from both sides and I nodded in agreement to both sides. Not because I agree with what they said entirely, but just to keep the peace.
A friend told me her PAD aunt is so adamant that she takes a side because neutral is unacceptable. So she only takes her side in her presence. I found myself doing the same thing.
I usually just wait to see which side the person I’m talking to is taking. Then I would nod and simply go along with what they said.
When being neutral is not an option, but being a fake Red/Yellow to be civil.
Once in a while, my defense was, “I live in America. I have no idea what to think. What do YOU think about Obama?” Subject changed. No problem!
It seems we Thais know exactly how to keep peace in our households and circles of friends.
We just can’t seem to keep the same peace in our nation.
P.S. I am still in Bangkok through December 4. Brandon is supposed to leave tomorrow but airport is still closed. Stay tuned for updates from us two (kind of) lost souls!