Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Thai Farmer One Minute, Restaurant Worker The Next.

It was quite amazing really,the transformation was remarkable.

Fon is a long standing friend of my partner, Rat, having gone to the same school together. She normally lives and works in a small village in Isaan. Her family own a few rai of land on which they grow rice and Fon has been spending 9 hours a day, every day, tending this land and caring for their eight buffalo.

Its a poor village, they have not got running water, and no shower. The toilet is a communal one about 50 yards from her house. She washes herself in the nearby river. To her that way of life is quite normal. But money is short and she wants to improve the living standards of her family - so Bangkok's bright lights beckoned.

Yesterday, Fon travelled to BKK and came to stay with us. Dirt was ingrained in her broken finger and toe nails, her hair was dry and in need of a good wash. Her overall appearance was that of a typical peasant girl. She brought 2 shirts with her, a pair of shorts and one set of underwear. She was wearing scruffy jeans, a dirty red T shirt, and had a worn out pair of flip flops on her feet.

She soon settled in and after some 'som tam' she fell asleep. When she woke up the transformation started ! She stripped off her clothes and promptly threw them in the rubbish bin. She showed no sign of embarrassment as she went into the shower. I suppose that washing yourself in a river for all of your life makes a person lose their inhibitions....

What struck me was her pubic hair. It was like a bush. In fact I have never seen pubic hair like it. It was wiry, and must have been 5 inches long ! What went through my mind wasn't very nice really, but at least it was only a thought and I didn't actually say anything. She reminded me of a savage running wild in the jungle.

For the next 60 minutes she scrubbed her hands and feet and must have washed her hair three times. She attacked her pubes with a pair of scissors. Rat scrubbed her back - literally !

When Fon came out from the shower room she was a totally different person. She was clean, her hair was shining and her pubic hair was trimmed and shaped. She did not look like the person I had seen going into the shower about an hour before. In fact she was glowing all over. My partner was equally impressed.

My partner lent Fon some clothes and they both went out for a while. Fon had her hair cut and straightened, toe and finger nails manicured, and bought some new clothes and shoes - no doubt funded by Rat ! She had also got a job in a local restaurant.

Fon had, in hours, changed from what reminded me of a savage running wild in the jungle to a gorgeous, attractive women. All credit to her.

You might be asking yourself why I have written this. Its simple really. This scenario is played out thousands of times a year by girls who travel to Bangkok from their villages to find work. A lot of people in Thailand 'look down' on these girls - but they shouldn't. These girls are human beings, with feelings, aspirations and needs. The same as everyone.

Fon is just one of the hundreds of thousands who have so little in a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is obscene.

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