Many people have asked, “what’s the #EatPrayTeach hashtag about?”.
#Eat: Food, my first love …
On my first day in The Land of Smiles (Patong, Phuket) I took a walk through Banzaam market and it felt as though I was in a food horror movie!!! Ok, I am being a bit dramatic, but besides seeing many variations of freshly caught amphibians, all sorts of snakes, bright yellow chicken and unfamiliar creatures of the deep blue sea alive and kicking, I fell in love with how fresh the seafood, meats, fruits and vegetables were! One of the things I love about Thailand is that in most Thai cities/ towns, fresh food markets are as accessible as a local grocery store, mostly selling produce at relatively cheap prices (vs. Rand/ Dollar value).
Anyone who knows me knows that food and I are like ‘white on rice’! I believe that the best way to immerse oneself in a different culture is to break bread with the locals and taste their traditional cuisine. Thai food is spicy, full of flavour and comes in a never ending variety of dishes. I must admit, I do miss the odd plate of ‘pap ka braai meat or mogodu le chakalaka’ (a traditional South African dish) but I am certainly enjoying my culinary experience in The Land of Smiles! (see the end of my post for an explanation of the SA dish).
#Pray: A Key part of my life …
“Buddhism is about cause and effect and it’s a way of life!”
(My shy Thai friend who requested to remain anonymous)
What I highly respect about the Thai people is the conviction they have in their faith and their healthy simple way of life. I am not Buddhist, but there are some life lessons that I am slowly but surely learning from the Thai community. Respect and compassion for others and a sense of community or Ubuntu (as we say in Africa) is their mantra. The highest level of respect that you can show someone is to acknowledge their importance and existence. Thai people ‘Wai’ when greeting to show respect, especially for those with a higher rank in an organisation or society – it is done by putting palms together, raising them towards your face while slightly nodding your head. This is an equivalent of the handshake with the left hand over the inside of the right elbow/ arm while slightly bowing that most Africans use as a respectful greeting.
“Mai Pen Rai” is the first Thai phrase I learnt here and it carries the same sentiments as “hakuna mathata” meaning ‘relax, don’t worry, if something does not happen today, it can happen tomorrow’.
I believe that this philosophy resonates with the Christian belief that one should “be anxious for nothing” and rather be grateful for everything and work in faith, while leaning on God’s understanding and His plan for tomorrow. Patience – a virtue I am learning more and more of each day.
#Teach: Education, my passion …
Now picture ‘Teacher Kemo’ in a class with 45 non English speaking hyper 9 year olds!!! The ultimate test of one’s patience, self-control, compassion and definitely some sort of sense of humour! I made the move from primary to high school not so long ago and I am currently teaching 13 to 16 year olds – contrary to popular belief, teenagers are amazing human beings and intriguing to engage with. There are very few greater joys that come from imparting knowledge upon a young person and seeing how it enriches their world and yours as a teacher at the same time.
‘pap ka braai meat or mogodu le chakalaka’ explained:
- A south African dish: pap is a traditional porridge/ polenta made from maize meal, a braai is a barbecue, mogodu is tripe and chakalaka is a spicy curry flavoured traditional cooked salad made with carrots, peppers, onions, ginger, beans and chilli – everyone/ every family has their own special way of making this! The best way to eat this meal is with your hands!
My second and third opinions: TK & My shy anonymous Thai friend