lundi 31 octobre 2011

Foreseeing for short-sighted

For the first time ever, I went to consult a fortune-teller. I didn't have any pre-conception going to check out someone with the sixth sense (I can see dead people ... brrrrr....). I don't really believe in it but I went there with an open-mind, ready to be dazzled ... or not !

(© Ableimages/fstop/Corbis)

One experience, which happened to my grand-mother, did make me feel a little worried before entering the place where future becomes present. When she was 16, she went to see a psychic in a little countryside fair. That old lady told her she would live a long life but that she will lose a baby and will die alone. As the first prophecy materialised with the death of her second baby boy, she is really scared, now that she is over 70 years old, to see the second statement come true.

So it's with very precised questions - none of them even remotely concerning my death of the one of a loved one - that I've crossed over the treshold of the massage parlor (next to a ladyboy bar, in the red light district) where Mrs Know-it-all was officiating and showing off her divinatory skills. 

After few minutes waiting for her, comfortably seated in a massage chair, SHE appeared, sleepy as hell. To her defense, I'm sure fortune-telling takes out a lot energy out of someone. Once she spotted her customer, she dressed up a small table with an old tablecloth and puts on a big scarf over her shoulders. Tarot cards in hand, a small prayer and my future was hers.

- Her read on my personnality : You think way too much/You have the sixth sense (Hope not to see dead people ... brrr...)/You are special (how ? HOOOOOW ?)/You will always find a way to get money/But it's hard for you to save some (Gays love their shopping, helloooo !)

- Question 1 : Should I stay in Thailand ? Your soul is very thai (drama ?) so duh !

- Question 2 : Will I find a job ? Yeah but dont start a business with another person (but I was thinking too ...) Just be your own boss (but i really wanted to ...) just DON'T DO IT ! (okay ...)

- Question 3 : What kind of person should I be in a relationship with ? You are stubborn, live in your own world so it's hard for people to understand you and get bored easily (ouch !) So he better be handsome, clever, funny and rich (YEEEES, PLEEEAAASE !)

dimanche 23 octobre 2011

Lady Boys: remarked and remarkable

Still adapting my eyes to Thailand flaming sun, I was struck by a vision coming right at me in a local bus at the outskirt of UdonThani. Another flaming thai character appeared in the shape of a young lady boy or to be precise a soon-to-become third sex person. The teenager, barely in his puberty, all dressed up in his male school uniform, boyish haircut, was wearing a shocking pink lip gloss and flowery earrings. His outfit was completed by a bright purple handbag.

As surprising as it was for me at the time, no one else in this confined and chaotic space seemed to bother his peculiar appearance. How open-minded!, I thought. How would people react if the same situation presented itself in a provincial city back home? I guess it wouldn’t have left them as indifferent. Some might have even scolded him. Or worst. But as for many social matters, things are so different here. Thailand is the leading country for sex-change operations. The land of smile gives an image of a healthy openness to transsexuality. But I always wondered if this avant-garde gender was that well accepted among very traditional thai society. Wasn't it just another way to avoid conflict and not taking the risk to lose face? 

If you have a closer look at the perceptions of katoeys in thai society, the situation isn't as paradisiacal as it may look. In TV series and movies for instance, they are often –if not always- relegated to the funny roles. Lady boys characters are designed to make you laugh at them, and not with them. They are loud, extravagant, sassy, superficial and never stand a chance for depth in feelings or thoughts. Playing in a strictly third sex volleyball team in Sa-three-lek or scared to death by ghosts in Hor-thaew-thak, the image portrayed by those popular features isn't flattering. Even though our Tootsie or The adventures of Priscilla, queen of the desert were heavily loaded with stereotypes, some movies such as the recent Kinky boots or TransinAmerica brought a more realistic insight to the difficulties of being a tiny bit different. If Ladyboys are often caricatured in thai medias, they have at least the chance to be presented to a large audience, which isn't the case in most countries. Some of them even became superstars like TV host Ma, chef Yingsak or comedian Tong Tong. They are now a role model for those like this young man in UdonThani who aren't scared to show to the world who they really are. Broadcasted beauty contests such as Miss Tiffany, achieve to prove them how fabulous they are.

Third-sex associations militate actively, trying to push further their rights by plighting, for instance, to obtain the installation of special restrooms in universities where only ladyboys could share the facilities. Actions are also taken to empower shemales through qualified employment -not every ladyboy desires to become an exotic dancer in Pattaya -. But those young professionals daring having other ambitions, often found themselves discriminated by employers who punish them for their unorthodox lifestyle. Hopefully, PC Air, a Bangkok-based new-coming airline, has publically announced that it would recruit ladyboys as flight-attendants. About 100 third-sex persons postulated but only four were hired, including former Miss Tiffany Universe 2007, Thanyarat Chirapatpakorn. The airline's CEO, Peter Chan, explained to Reuters that the transsexual application process was more difficult than that for non-transsexuals, as they have to "spend the whole day with them to make sure they have feminine characters." "We have taken the right decision by allowing transsexuals to be able to get this kind of job highly considered by the society", added one of the founders, Piyo Chantraporn.

A good marketing plan for sure, but a laudable action nonetheless. It actually could have been a great project if it wasn't for a small but disturbing detail. The flight-attendants will have to wear on their uniform a small tag identifying them as a "third-sex" cabin crew. If those qualified new employees don’t draw the attention on their appearance, why would the passengers need to be reminded of their sexual being? Wasn't it discriminatory to identify people as "third-sex" and not simply "cabin crew"? Would gay people have to wear a tag mentioning their sexual orientation? I didn’t get it. The scheme was probably to transform those flight-attendants of a new kind into an upcoming attraction to travelers in need of a thrill. Newness is the best commercial aphrodisiac. Too bad, this noble cause –raising awareness on transsexuals' rights- had to serve a financial purpose. But when the situation isn't glorious, a step forward, even an awkward one, is better than no step at all. That sentence could also be true when talking about the perception of ladyboys in thai society. Even though there is still a need for improvement, Thailand is opening the path to the acceptance and integration of the third-sex gender not only in the country, but also worldwide. 

mercredi 19 octobre 2011

Long distance love : a survivor's guide

             (© Eric Audras/Onoky/Corbis)

I was 20 when I first came to Lao PDR. It was April and the country was actively preparing itself for the Buddhist New Year celebrations (Pi Mai Lao). If this colorful and wet event was surely a bonus in my travel plan, it wasn’t what convinced me to book my ticket to fly through half the planet. I had met few weeks earlier a cute Lao guy on some gay website. After chatting our fingers off on MSN, I had decided to move things a step further and meet him in real life. Love at first sight, few days of walking on clouds and I couldn’t be happier. But this was only a vacation and I eventually had to go back to my boring european routine. We were back to square one. Actually, we weren't exactly at the same point. Our little situation was even worse than before. I had kissed his lips. I had felt his skin on my fingers. Marcel Proust cherished the odors of freshly baked madeleines as his dearest memory. My madeleine was my lover's smell. With thousands of kilometers separating each other, the lack of him became excruciating and the only window opened to his world was my cold computer screen. How frustrating! Phone calls helped for a while, cam sex did too but we needed more. After few difficult months, I've managed to move to Lao PDR. If our story came to an end, having to deal with a distance relationship happened to me again once, twice … From a boyfriend living in Chiang Mai to another one spending most of his time working in Pattaya, I had my share of that schizophrenic lifestyle . One day, I'd be jumping in his arms and have passionate I-missed-you-so-bad sex but the next we would have endless I-miss-you-so-much conversations over the phone. Sadly, it always failed the test of time and left my heart in pieces.

I'm convinced that long distance relationship trauma is the new disease of the 21th century and of course we can all blame it on Internet. Thanks to Fridae, Gayromeo, or Manhunt, we now meet people living in other cities or even countries; we surely find them exotic, intriguing and much more appealing than the ones who live around the corner, so we end up dating internationally. Relationships move as fast as the speed of your wireless connection. You hop on a plane, meet up for a date, chemistry is there, you go back home and you already are in a committed relationship. Several of my close friends are now dealing with that situation, with more or less result. If their journeys are different, their hopes are identical. They all deeply believe in their love for one another and feel that a few hundreds or thousands kilometers won't stop them from being together. Realistically speaking though, geographical distance is often followed by a sentimental gap, growing bigger and bigger between each partner, as time passes by.  So don't waste a second, no spontaneity is allowed if you want to survive a long distance relationship. You've got to be prepared, organized and able to plan ahead of time your love reunions. It will give you a sense of stability and ground your relationship.   

If getaways can't occur as often as you would like them to, be prepared to make concessions. I don’t know if it's testosterone's fault or simply the central place given to sex in the homosexual universe, but asking if two men together and living apart, stay faithful to each other sounds nowadays like a bad joke. The concept of open relationship has taken over the gay world as rapidly as sissy boys shake their asses on Lady Gaga's beats. Monogamy became tacky. In Thailand, "gigs" gravitate around your loved one. You close one eye and have fuck dates with other guys. You've just got to convince yourself that cheating doesn’t mean anything and that your feelings for one another aren't fading away. Is it a skip and a go from a break up? It doesn't have to. Just set your own rules and make sure you take every decision as a couple and not as two single people sharing a special bound.  
To ensure that your love is distance-proof, there is actually only one requirement: don’t let that uneasy situation poison the core of your relationship. Don’t let distance be its central component. It should be about you and him, not about the absence of "us". Keep in mind that being apart is not a death sentence hanging over your love story, it's just an obstacle.      

lundi 17 octobre 2011

Hopeless romantic ...

- My name is Damien
- Hi Damien
- I'm a hopeless romantic
Clap, Clap from the tearful people present at the R.A (Romantic Anonymous) meeting.

If only there was a place like that ... I could finally be treated and maybe even cured !

I feel that most people value romantism as a quality. How wrong ! Being romantic is probably one of the biggest flaws ! You live your life as if it was a Claude Lelouche movie (Chabadabada...), everytime you meet someone new you believe he will be THE ONE (and only), when he comes near you, Katy Perry sings Teenage dream in the back of your head, and you end up ... being totally screwed up !

Love is just a game, and romantics are always losing. Why ? Because they just don't know how to bluff ! They show their feelings right away, their true colors too fast, too soon, and they can easily be played.

I really wish I was less romantic. But I can't help it ! Romance is my drug, Love my junky heaven. And believe me, as a french person, I had no chance to save myself from this nasty addiction. Hollywood movies are totally right : France is the country of love and romance. People hold hands and kiss wherever they can. "Je t'aime" is as common as "bonjour". And mastering seduction is part of our education. But even though I was raised to become a sucker for sunsets on the beach, I guess i'm worst than most of my "compatriotes" I've probably spent more money on romantic get-aways and more time on confectionning the perfect hand-crafted present (reminding us of those special moments spent together on those romantic get-aways) than anyone else in my snail-eating homeland. If Romantism was a monument, I would probably be the Eiffel Tower ! I can't help but buying gifts to my love interest, asking him how he is 10 times a day, making sure he is happy each and every minute and doing my best to contribute to that unreachable happiness.

But do I regret it ? Probably not ! All those moments spent gluing heartshaped pictures in a scrapbook have taught me two things :
- Give yourself 100 % and you won't regret a thing. You will probably get hurt but nothing comes without a risk.
- If he freaks out and he can't realize how lucky he is to have someone so caring around him, then that's HIS lost and probably in a short amount of time, HE will be the one regretting... you

mercredi 12 octobre 2011

Worst movie ever !

And I thought Ultraviolet was bad ... Mila my dear, your kick-ass robot vampire craziness isn't as nearly tragic as the thai movie I've watched yesterday ... Love Summer is probably the worst movie I have EVER seen in my entire life !

The "storyline" is quite simple : 2 buddies want to go to Phuket, a strange American (and his sex-doll girlfriend) wants to go to Phuket, a Thai girl wanna go there and even a Japanese woman would love to skin-dip in Patong Beach. To sum up : Phuket seems the place to be, though we don't really know why. We don't actually know how these random people end up on a road trip together, though that's not the worst part. If you put all the thai movie clichés aside (ghost in a strange hotel -of course -, Girls that are picked up in a disco and that aren't really female -duh !-, handsome guys randomly appearing on screen -I wish !), this movie might have the worst scenario in the history of cinema. But what makes Love summer EVEN more interesting, it's all the "great" values it teaches to the younger viewers :
- Drugs are fun, especially if you are too dumb to realize that the "candy" you get from an American nutcase isn't really a candy
- If you wanna be a good actor, please overact every single feeling
- Saying "Fuck you" to strangers is really the best joke ever
- When you are rich and good-looking, you are much better than anyone else
- Don't ever have a condom in your wallet cause it scares the girls away. Better not use any protection at all.

And my favorite one :
- Girls, if Daddy wanted to have a boy, your only chance to make him proud is to enter a bikini contest

Thanks to Love summer, I have not only wasted 1hour and 50 minutes of my life but I will probably need a good therapy. Who could have thought love in the summertime could be THAT mentally exhausting !