This evening I was cooking while our landlord sorted a big tomato shipment with his wife and a couple of employees. He's really the friendliest guy. We're all just a big family now, talking about tomatoes hither and thither. And a guy I met on the street came wandering by. I heard, "Rachel," and I looked up from my wok. Who knows my name well enough to say it like that? It was this guy who stopped to ask me about an organic farm he'd heard about and was looking for. We started chatting, and then this evening he was cycling by again. It turned out he knew my landlord, who gave him a kilo of tomatoes as a present, and we all stood around and talked and I forgot to put the tofu in my green curry and had to put it in at the end.
I figure that if we're going to be in Thailand, living in a big wooden house in the center of town is a great way to do it. We're smack dab in the middling bustleness, or the bustling middleness, of this village. People can wander by and see how we do life, how we cook. How we sit under the tree for breakfast and how we can't get through a meal without spilling stuff or a day without a few thousand hugs.
(To answer my friend Leaf's question, I'm currently sitting under the tree to write, but the table there doesn't fit my legs under it. There is the tiniest of rooms in the back of the downstairs of the house that I fell in love with as soon as I saw it, and when I get a desk in there, it's all over. I'm a writing fool.)
Our neighbors as well as people wandering by can see how we have meltdowns and lie on the floor making whale noises. (Well, the smallest of us.) How we use cardboard boxes as robot costumes or houses. They can see what I'm cooking for dinner, they can see me hanging my laundry or hosing spilled smoothie off of the bricks in the courtyard. I've been in a few places lately where I start to tell someone where I live and they say, "Oh, I know. My girlfriend lives across the street," or "I saw you there the other day."
I totally get curiousity. We're curious too. I know I love to stare at people. (There's a cultural shift for you- I don't think it's as cool with people if you stare at them in Thailand as it is in India.) I'd say that satisfying people's curiosity is part of our family modus operandi. Because who would do it if we didn't? How would Thai people know what dreadlocks feel like, without YaYa around to patiently let them sneak a hand out and touch hers?
So, dear neighbors, we know we're interesting and a little strange. You can watch us all you want, just as long as we can watch you too.