Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dogs & Culture



PLEASE HELP ME EXPLAIN TO MY THAI STUDENTS . . .

...the American idiom "Work like a dog." Crossing this cultural divide seems like a hopeless task.

After gardening, laundry and cleaning the house all day in 90-degree heat, my Thai friend called up and asked me what I'd been doing.

"Ajarn J, today your day off? Oh, that's right, it's Saturday. The easy life of teachers! What have you been doing today?"

"Working like a dog, of course!" I exclaimed in my most exhausted-sounding tone.

Silence.

Other times I'm met with a mock "Oh, you poor thing..." response from the shallowest recesses of the Thai heart.

Why this lack of sympathy?

The Thai dog is the epitome of laziness. He lies around all day and sleeps, sometimes even in the right-of-way of a busy road, too lazy to move even a foot out of harm's way (yes, and many suffer the logical consequences).

At night he only wakes for a few moments to bark at passing Thai ghosts (according to my Thai friends) and then just as quickly falls back into his blissful dream state.

There's not a single Thai dog I know who works for a living where 90% of Thais live (the boondocks). Most Thai dogs "adopt" a business, an apartment building, a city hall--and live on the handouts of kind strangers; something I have not yet learned how to do myself.

What are the responsibilities of the dog who adopts a human or establishment? Sleep and eat. Oh yes, and bark a couple times a day when someone steps on their territory. Oh, yes, and go after the foreigner in fang-baring packs just to remind him he's not a native. That's it.

Work like a dog? No sympathy here.

And the adventure goes on,
JD



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