… on Thailand while listening to pirated tapes of Pat Metheny.
Racha Guest House, Chiang Mai
27 December 1985
Pirating is big business here. I’m certainly surprised to find such ‘cult’ music as Pat Metheny and Wyndham Hill compilations alongside new albums by such as Simple Minds, Sade and Neil Young. They’ve even got the original sleeves.
Less clever counterfeit articles include SHRAP calculators, CASIA watches and LIVE STRAUSS jeans (original rivetted), which contain no rivets whatsoever and are not made from good denim. Lacoste and Christian Dior shirts abound though, not being particularly fashion conscious, I can only surmise from their cheapness that, logos apart, they are vastly different from their originals.
I assume too that the BUM© JEANS, as neon signed in Bangkok, are also a bum deal.
In the striving for western culture, Thailand is not unlike India, Singapore and Malaysia. In too great a hurry to emulate the ephemera, the outward trappings of success, without having followed our paths and made our mistakes (to learn from) a fundamental misunderstanding takes place.
In the West, everyone notionally has the opportunity to partake in the share out of the notional communal wealth. Perhaps it is only in the present decade that outmoded economic theories are exacerbating in practice the divisions between the haves and have nots. The homeless, jobless and hopeless would probably dispute this statement – such social problems are not a new phenomenon.
Here in Thailand, the outward manifestation of wealth is a mirrored bank building, the availability of personal, as opposed to public,transport, and disposable, meaning fashionable, clothes.
A petrol pump attendant working from 6am to 8pm ‘earns’ 1,000 baht a month. A school teacher earns 3-4,000 a month. Neither is the stuff of dreams.
Thailand is thirsting for foreign currency in order to qualify for huge international banking loans in order to invest in grandiose developments; unfortunately, it is not emulating the current western concerns for social justice within environmentally sound policies.
That’s a very blinkered approach to a vibrant future.