songkranPosted: April 15, 2010
Thais have a three-day festival called Songkran. Everybody throws water on everybody. We’re washing away our sins and getting ready to plant seeds before the next rains. It comes on what is annually the hottest days of the year. Tomorrow will be 104 degrees, which feels like the sun has dropped down to 12 feet above your head. The streets along the moat around the old city are jammed with pickup trucks filled with people in the back throwing water and people lined along the sidewalks throwing water. Water guns shaped like exotic space weapons give everyone equal power. The devious use ice-cold water which briefly paralyzes the unsuspecting victim. Women and young girls’ bodies are soaked, their clothing pressed tightly against their breasts. Young men are in full macho mode. Naturally, some people drink too much, motorcycles flip on the slick pavement, fender-benders plonk right and left, an angry temper flares, but really it’s a million smiles flashing, especially from the wide-eyed young watching their elders play like children. It’s a public ritual of rejuvenation and unfortunately, I can’t imagine it happening like this in the United States. Europe, maybe in France. England, never. Italy, maybe. Style note: Western cowboy hats are in.