Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Black Songkran 2009

So it had come to a point where the newspapers called the day Black Songkran. The first day of the festival, was covered in violent clashes and some bloodshed. I spoke to some local folks. One that runs a laundry had gotten sick of the protester and only wanted it to end. She mentioned that the reds are ruining the business for Songkran and interrupting the everyday lives of Bangkokians. She was fuming mad when she spoke of the situation.

And so I spoke to another most interesting character. In Singapore, everyone works. Over here, there exist people who do not work for their entire lives. Alcohol is part of his body’s chemistry. And fuming mad he said, the reds had been treated unfairly, why the soldiers used forceful tactics on the reds when during the yellow protest there was not. Luckily laundry lady and drunk, who are relatives, did not get into forming their own member groups and trashing it out.

Too many stories to hear, too many frustration they want to vent. Frustration is not just about which side one should be on, but the frustration of living with constant poverties in their lives. Frustration over many more matters we could not comprehend, but we know violence is a way to release them.

If you had ever caused chaos, you know it felt great and could be addictive after the adrenaline rush. And this was what had taken place, with many more people joining the protest just for the adrenaline kicks I reckoned. Thais called them the Third Hand. They declared war with many local residence and areas of major businesses such as markets. They threw fire bombs into residential flats, they shoot people and people shoot back. They wore red.

The peak of the event was on first day of Songkran when the situation was really getting out of control. All petrol stations were closed near evening time for the fear they will get blown up. All the major malls closed at eight thirty, I was chased out. But strangely on the streets just a few blocks away from many ground zeros, music was on full blast and the transvestites were dancing in wet t-shirts on the streets. The other provinces were in full celebration, the temple I went for tamboon was packed. Thais just want to have their Songkran day.

Thais told me Thais had a brain like a gold fish – short term memory. Thais forget easily. And true enough on the second day of Songkran, the place looked like no violent protest had happened before. The TV showed the red protesters peacefully going on to buses headed back to north and north east. The protest had officially ended, the red had lost. Red, white, yellow, blue and military green discarded their colors, people playing the water had increased in numbers. We could really see the spirit of Songkran now.

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