Bot received 6 stitches but they saved the tip of his finger. In this photo he is just back from having the dressing changed at the hospital. That is his buddy Nu, who is whipjack smart, and Bim behind, who speaks and reads not a word of English despite my paltry efforts. She can sing three lines from a pop song that goes: Loving you too much, so much, very much. And below is Bpeng and on the right and his friend Peng, Bpeng being the one I mentioned I was fairly sure was going to grow up to be a lady boy.
Apparently I am not alone in this assessment, since when I was facing the impossibility of trying to tease out the differences in their two names and asked if we couldn't try out something else, the class suggested "Tootsie". When I asked why, they explained because in that American comedy from the 80's Dustin Hoffman dressed and acted as a woman. I adore Bpeng;he too does not own a smidgeon of English. If I were the superstar teacher imagined in the minds of educational theoreticists I would "differentiate" each of my lesson plans to meet the individual needs of each and every learner, each and every day. Instead I am trying to organize a Friday split schedule determined not by grade level or age, but by reading competency. I know- what a lazy son of a biscuit! If it was grouped by adorability they would all be in one big lecture hall...
Over at NongYaSai, everything is coming up concrete. Three weeks ago in Australia I read Bangkok Post report that the ministry of education wanted to close down an enormous number of small rural schools to save on money - this will sound very familiar to my Maine friends- but then someone remembered that elections were coming up and that means pull out all the stops- free root beer for everyone! Suddenly we have a number of "bricks and mortar" projects blooming at both schools. At NYS they are paving a large percentage of the grounds with concrete, including the circular driveway and the area on the playground the children gather to salute the flag. Not that it seems money particularly well spent, but people love to see tangible "things" whether it is in Afghanistan where Greg Mortonsen's money has apparently overbuilt now understaffed schools, or in the USA where the pipe dream in my area is called "Many Flags" wherein a utopian gathering of high school, community college and technical schools to the tune of 65 million dollars will result in newly motivated learners and effective teaching practice. Not that I am against such efforts per se. I like that new laptop smell as much as the next guy, but research doesn't support such spending's impact. It does boost the economy here, since all that concrete is mixed and laid down by a big crew.
As I said, Isaan seems to be one big building project, even more so than the other areas of Thailand I visited. Cliches like "bustling" come to mind as buildings spring up daily on my commute. Not all of them are public works projects either, though the bridge to Lao, the army hospital, the solar power field, and the school improvement ones stand out (Thai Samakee is getting awnings put over all the first floor windows- a project I had considered trying to raise money for myself since it was one of those that will markedly improve the standard of livability by reducing the heat.) The locals do not seem to share my astonishment at the rapid growth. They look at me as if I were a little loopy when I mention it. Yet clearly Thailand is an economy on the move. I frequently imagine it be somehow similar to the USA just after the troops returned from WWII, Levittowns burgeoning, prosperity beckoning, and daily life radically being redefined in one generation. Here is a photo I took in October in NKP on our first visit to the city. I took it because I was interested in the funky scaffolding, the hand mixing of cement, and the human power required for lack of a crane.
Here is the same building taken this morning.
Not that remarkable in comparison with China or some other economies, but for some reason it hits me palpably. Perhaps because there is so little other seasonal change building projects are my way of sensing the rapid passage of my short time here. Or maybe perspective is the key, the newness of it all makes any changes seem remarkable to an outsider. When we got together the other day, some of our original group, all our conversations were already pointed towards the far horizon- bookings home, back to graduate school or parent's houses come September. It is a pinpoint of light at the end of a tunnel I for one do not want to see. I look out on the changing rice fields with a heavy heart knowing I will not be here to see the fall harvest. Still, it is lovely to witness the cycle and the greening. We had a steady swath of rain for days and nights, torrents. One day I had to drive the moped back from NongYaSai in a downpour since Kru Goa had no raincoat and I did. I still got drenched. I know Maine has had a very rainy spring as well and my poor driveway became a Grand Canyon lookalike. Here in flat Isaan, the water simply pools up.
If you look into the center background you will see some farmers hand planting a field. Some fields are simply seeded by scattering and others using this method- not sure why which is which. Hopefully I will have a chance to help with the hand planting and I can get some better photos.
The most rewarding sights are the patches and varieties of green carpets emerging.
This reminded me of a William Bronk poem I used to love called Green as a Verity. I looked for it on the internet to include it here, but I could not find it. Plenty of news about the dysfunctional woman who killed her child, but no William Bronk poem- Sigh. If you can find it send it in email or put it in the comments section won't you? Thanks again. And one last thing before I go to watch more French Open illegally online. Speaking of superstition and fortune telling, I had my palm read by an adorable young Thai woman the other day. She told me earnestly that I was going to live a long life, but that I was never going to be rich. I have a feeling she was just going by the fact that I already look like I am older than dirt and clearly dirt poor!