Praying for a boyfriend - literally...
I'm an English teacher. I normally teach kids in a private school in Bangkok but, every Monday night I used to teach an adult class too. It was just a volunteer thing, nothing fancy, but I loved doing it. It's great to teach students who are enthusiastic, really want to learn English, and aren't afraid to speak out, or make themselves look stupid. It gives you a good buzz and its fun to see the students enjoying themselves as they study.
The students are usually really grateful that you give up your free time to teach them but, really, it should be the other way around. It's great for me to meet them, plus, travelling to Sukhumvit and back once a week gets me away from the drinking scene around Khao San and from some of the parasitic students where I live, who pester me for help when they see me bumming around in the lobby, reading the paper or surfing the net.
My old class finished last Monday and, since the group that I teach for were a volunteer short for their Wednesday night class, I agreed to teach that one instead. The first class was earlier this evening.
One thing I normally do when I teach a new class is find some kind of activity for the students to get to know each other and help them remember people's names. Sometimes I get them to write a few questions each then quiz each other (and me) gameshow style. We did this earlier. One of the questions (for me) was 'Have you got a boyfriend ?' I answered honestly 'no, not yet.'
I normally walk to the BTS station with my students after class. Today though, a couple of them wanted to go to the Erawan Shrine. I asked them what they wanted. One wanted a new job. Another other wanted a boyfriend. Suddenly K, one of the students said 'teacher. you can come too. You can ask for a boyfriend.'
I've been to the Erawan Shrine a few times. Whenever friends visit Bangkok, I usually take them there. It's a beautiful statue. Plus, it's also a good place to hear Thai music and watch Thai dancing. There's always someone dressed in traditional costume dancing there, plus there's normally a couple of old men playing the rannat - the traditional Thai xylophone - too.
For foreigners its strange to see what looks like people praying to a statue. It's fun to watch how seriously people take the ritual, carefully putting one little jasmine garland on each pile, and counting out the right number of incense sticks (3) for each side.
We have lots of superstitions at home. 7 being a lucky number, 13 being unlucky. Not walking under ladders, or putting umbrellas up in the house. Sometimes, when people really, really want something, they might pray, but its a personal thing. It's not something most English people would openly do in public. Seeing so many people around the statue, solemnly praying is a spectacle in itself.
10 minutes after class, 5 of us were crammed into a taxi snaking its way through the Sukhumvit traffic. We jumped out just after McDonalds in Chitlom, paid our 20baht to the incense man, and each got 4 jasmine garlands, 12 incense sticks and a candle in return.
The other 4 lit their candles and incense sticks straight away. It took 5 goes before the wick of my candle had a flame on the end of it, and I managed to create a small fire when I tried to light my incense sticks. Shaking them from side to side (as I'd seen the others do) merely fanned the flames. K had to take them off me. 2 seconds and a couple of gentle shakes later she'd got rid of the fire. She made it look so easy.
She handed them back to me, instructed me to kneel down and started to pray. Now, I have absolutely no idea how to pray. I've been to 'tamboon' make merit, with various Thai friends a couple of times before, but have never really had any idea about what to do or why I am doing it. I normally just kneel down, palms together, fingers pointing upwards, sitting quietly and thinking of nothing much until I've been sat there long enough for people to think that I've done something... wished, prayed or whatever it is they've wanted me to do.
It was the almost the same this time, except that the minute I knelt down a big blob of molten candle wax landed on my middle finger. It was hot. It hurt. I instantly wished that it would go cold and that the pain would go away. Quickly... Before I screamed out, dropped my candle, said f**k under my breath or did something else equally embarrassing and impolite. I stood up a few seconds later and promptly splattered hot ash all over my trousers. I hoped I would be able to wash and dry them before school tomorrow morning. My other pairs were either dirty or in the laundry, and by the time I got home later, the laundry woman would have long gone home.
So, I didn't quite manage to wish for the thing that I was supposed to. But I did make 2 wishes. And 1 kind of came true. A minute or so later the wax dried and I peeled it off. There's only a tiny blister where it landed so, I guess it wasn't that painful after all.
As for the other one... will it work ? Will my trousers be dry before morning ? Maybe... They're hanging on my balcony at the moment, and it doesn't look like it's going to rain. And if they are ? Who knows... I might even go back to the Shrine one day and really wish for a new man...
|Create Date : 29 สิงหาคม 2550
|Last Update : 30 สิงหาคม 2550 1:13:13 น.
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