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Who Are These People?

Thai, hunters, gatherers, gathering, hunting, wild, northern,

What’s Wrong With These People?

For many longer-stay visitors to Thailand, the differences between Thais and Europeans remain to most almost unfathomable. With a view to writing his own book, one friend of the writer spent ten years trying to figure out and pinpoint precisely just what were the traits and idiosynchracies, the reasons which made the two tribes so very separate in outlook, attitude and behaviour.

Yes we are different and I have learned that to become more tolerant of the consequences of those differences, one must be more willing to acclimatise to the culture by embracing their values and ideas and even customs.

A little careful thought and examination of the two worlds we occupy can be very revealing.

We of the fair skinned peoples of the northern hemisphere look different, act differently and think differently too for a number of very good reasons.

I am no professor of anthropology or sociology, but I see the explanation couched in the origins of the two separate cultures - Hunters and Gatherers - primitive types who literally came from different worlds even way back then.

Clearly the northern hunter apes millions of years ago survived the crippling cold winters huddled in caves wrapped in stinking skins, venturing out only to drag the wife by the hair to the river for a drink, or to get something hard and heavy and hunt down the weakest, dumbest wild animal to be cut and shared between the hungry cave dwellers.

Later the spoils of the kill would be grilled over a nice big fire, once the trick of igniting flame had been perfected.

By contrast our Asian gathering counterparts meantime were rising in the morning, picking fresh produce growing wild at the front door, scooping fresh fish from the ponds of Asia and deciding which of the huge array of fruits hanging heavy from the trees they were to enjoy before or after their afternoon nap. This all on the accommodating shady side of the jungle.

Occasionally they would stir to catch a wild pig by digging and disguising a hole, or trap a bird somehow for a tasty barbecue in the cool dusk of oriental paradise.

Quite a contrast then all those years ago.

And not surprising then that we have very different outlooks even today, with the ‘raiders’ or Hunters from the frozen Northern Hemisphere still intent on aggressively hunting down their modern-day quarry and opportunity and yes – their partners too.

It’s how things are still done in Europe and the US and Australia. The primitive DNA keeps those ‘hard’ qualities hard-wired into the tribes of Europe, wherever they end up prevailing.

Likewise in Asia. The Gatherers stick to what they know best – gathering.

Fruit, vegetables, rice, fish, poultry and the occasional bit of meat. And they are as expert at gathering their ‘quarry’ as we the hairy-assed Europeans are at hunting ours.

And now that the twain meet, the Hunter is mystified why any people – Thai or otherwise - can be so passive and tolerant and uncontroversial - lacking in fight or the desire to beat their opposition to a pulp.

Correct me if I’m wrong but Rugby, American Football and Ice Hockey are sports of the Northern Hemipshere which revolve around the necessity to beat the shit out of the opposition to win. And let’s be fair. They are not really big attractions in Asia today at all - even after all the televised hype and promotion.

The Gatherers prefer soccer, pool, golf – the gentler side of sport.

Try beating a Thai at checkers!
Published: 2008-12-26
Author: Alexander Pithie

About the author or the publisher
Based in Asia, but European born, I am a freelance writer and editor who can generate intelligent features on any topic under the sun. Formerly with AFP and the Financial Times of London, I have been widely published and these days edit a number of web sites and blogs.

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