The Land of Smile

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Anwar Noor Baloch
Is this Savings account, current account or checking account? This was read on an ATM screen and Khamis had to choose one, where he looked overwhelmed and confused, in Nana road in Bangkok, Thailand. He was looking for some help. “I am sure there is 10,500 baht in the account and I just want to withdraw 13,000 baht.” he said to his friends and I was watching and listening to the scene very carefully as I was on the second ATM for a banking transaction.
I was reading one of the articles before the Oman Air lands at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand. The article was about tourists’ guide where one line reads that, the meaning of Thailand is “the land of smile”.  Though, it was my first visit, but I didn’t find myself as stranger there. I celebrated 2017 there.
To gather information is one of the difficult tasks for reporters and writers. I thrashed about the same as a writer. Nevertheless, sometimes it becomes easy as well, where it just required some guts and little talks to initiate. I finally did the same by sitting in the restaurants and asking questions and also while shopping, circuitously.
“I often come to Thailand; it’s a great place to become mentally and spiritually relaxed. One of the advantages is that everyone is his own,” Fuwad said, who came from Australia. He is architect, there. “I have Lebanon’s blood, but settled in Australia when political situation became uneasy,” he emphasized, while drinking “sulaimani tea”. “Yes, the political situation was not good at that period, most probably in 90’s,” said Abir.
More or less, to me the Arab Street or the Nana road looked like a great theatre and everyone was playing different roles. From the same street, there was one merchant, another was a shopkeeper, and others were with different roles, like tourists’ guide, medical doctor, patient, bar dancer, and many others. As an audience nobody ever gets bored as all of them play beautiful roles.
“It’s my third year in Thailand and I did not go back to my homeland,” said Meena. Meena was one of those who was running the show with a profound character and an actor. He is from Egypt and an amiable person. He managed to learn the Thai language and became a translator for some Arabs, especially from Gulf countries. Linguistically, over half of the words in Thai are borrowed from Pali, Sanskrit and Old Khmer, I sought.
I spent around forty five minutes with him at the restaurant and enjoyed listening to him. “The couple is from Iraq and they frequently come here,” said Meena, pointing one of his fingers to them. “The lady is the daughter of one of the ministers,” he continued.
Most of the Arab tourists approach Meena for guidance and Meena doesn’t do it for free. He takes his commission. He earns good amount of money.
“Would you like to buy watches? It’s only for 200 Thai baht each,” said one of the Indian sellers on the street. “I am from Hyderabad, India,” he replied, when I asked him.  I was glad to see such great free market.
I found myself lucky by meeting Abir and Qasaid, two Omani women at the hospital, who supported and eased my visit. Though, Abir visits Thailand with her family for treatment purposes at least once a year, but this time she received nice lessons that how the Thai market is efficient and how everyone is working so hard for economic reason.
“There is a foot massage, over there and its only 300 Thai baht”, Abir advised me to go. I took her advice and benefited.
“I do come here once or twice a year as Thailand is cheap and easy to live. People are friendly.” said Shiekha who came from Qatar.
In Arab restaurants, most of the times, you listen songs of Abdul Haleem Hafidh and Um Kulthoom. Such singers’ classical songs create an amazing atmosphere and always take you to Arab world.
“Can I have five minutes of your valuable time,” a stranger said. “No, I don’t have time,” I simply replied. “I have something to explain within one minute,” he requested. “Alright, go ahead,” I nodded. “I am from Burma and there are many poor families suffering. They don’t have shelters and food to eat. I am seeking some donations from you.” I was not sure how much he was honest, therefore I refused to donate. Later on, I donated, though I knew he was cheating me.
“Brother, can I have a talk with you,” another stranger stopped me in front of the hotel, at the same time. “Are you also asking for donation?” I asked him. “No. I am a Baloch and I don’t have enough money,” he said. “If you are Baloch, then let’s speak in Balochi language,” I requested. I found him he was not able to communicate in Balochi. “I am a Sindhi Baloch,” he justified.
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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