Saturday, October 14, 2006

More Miscellaneous Notes

One of the tragedies of Van Gogh was that during his life time he could not sell but very few of his paintings and it was only after his death that he started selling and became famous. Most artists go through that stage one way or another. Most do not become famous even after their death. And most cannot sell.

I am an artist and I have found the reason why I was not selling a lot of my works- they were either not good enough or not cheap enough. So I made them better and then I made them so cheap that people simply could not refuse to buy them. So, this year I was able to sell over 20 paintings.

As far as becoming famous, with the Internet and all, if you could post yourself on enough bulletin boards, you could achieve a semblance of “fame” that is, in a way, worldwide- people can access your website all over the world.

The main task remains making a living of your art. That is definitely a tough thing to achieve. However, selling art and becoming ‘famous’ (sort of) is not a problem.

***
In the West, they make fun of the Taliban, and how it allegedly ‘uglifies” people by making women dress in all these weird hoods, covering their beauty and, basically, depriving them of the joy of dressing well, among other things. However, one can say the same thing, albeit to a lesser extent of the modern Western culture, particularly the British one that derides those who dare to dress well. To think of it: I have repeatedly been told by British coworkers that I should wear subdued colors and even avoid designs on my clothes and would be given dirty looks if I tried to dress half-way decent. Every time I saw British people, they would all be dressed in grey and denim; and if you did not dress as they do, you would be a declared a freak or a queer. The exception to the rule would be if you were an obvious ethnic minority- then they would lower their gaze in guilty respect. I mean, if you were a West Indian with dreadlocks and a colorful knit cap, they would usually say nothing. I did not look ethnic enough to them, so they would give me a hard time.

And many of the former British colonies around the world suffer from the same “sparrow syndrome”- its inhabitants dress in the colors of that most unsightly bird. I guess, if the Brits come from such a grey country with so little sunshine, it is most natural to them to look drab and insipid. But exporting their dull dressing habits to other countries is most uncalled for.

Sometimes, I also think that the modern sneakers-and-jeans culture destroys female beauty as badly as Taliban does. At least, in many of those Eastern nations women wear colorful clothes under the veils and reveal them to their family members once they come home. However, a dull-looking, sneakers-and-jeans-no-make-up girl stays the same when she comes home and is unlikely to change to anything more appealing.

***

In many countries around the world whose people are known for being tolerant, incompetence reigns supreme. Why? Well, because who screw up are usually forgiven and given too many second chances. Actually, they are given infinite chances. Hence, they do not dread being punished for their deeds. So, they screw up all the time. Services are bad, products are not delivered on time; people do not come to appointments on time and are forgiven. Hence, over decades, such tolerant societies fall behind those countries that are less tolerant and who give their incompetents hell if they do not shape up. After some time, the intolerant societies end up conquering the tolerant ones and making them their economic or political colonies.

***

Thailand used to be a very friendly country, accepting of foreigners and tolerant of people of all races and religions. It used to be that if you came to the country and learned the language, the society would be very open to you. It also had the name Land of Smiles, the name that its tourist authorities desperately try to preserve.

However, as it developed, it became more materialistic than even many Western countries and people there tuned down their smiling as they saw their forests wiped out, their cultural values trampled under the new, money –worshipping culture and as life became tougher and tougher for an average person there.

Many more foreigners came to live in Thailand and also, the prostitution industry developed to unprecedented heights and sex tourists from all around the world streamed into Thailand in droves. Thai people have consequently begun to feel squeezed out by all these invaders and the only relationship that remained between them and the foreigners who would arrive would be that of money. Integrity and honesty that used to form part of the traditional Buddhist culture became replaced by greed, envy and money-grubbing insincerity. Foreigners would be ripped off, taken advantage off, lied to and used in the same way as they used the Thais. The advent of AIDS did not help.

Right now, I would rate Thailand as one of the least friendly countries in SE Asia to live in. The people are not what they used to be- they have become xenophobic, jealous, and it has become a shame for a Thai girl to be seen with a foreigner. Who would blame them? With hundreds of fat Westerners parading daily with their Thai hookers down the main street of Bangkok, which decent girl would want to be mistaken for one? And with so many obnoxious and smelly Western tourists of the lowest possibly classes misbehaving in all possible ways, the locals have become more and more suspicious of the Fa-rangs (the white people). I would thus classify Thailand as a formerly-friendly country and would like to give it a wide birth as far as it becoming my residence. I will still go there on vacation and to hang out but I no longer feel good as far as living there goes. There are still Westerners residing there but they are clinging to the old version of Thailand in their minds- the friendlier one-not realizing that the country has changed for the worse in so many ways.

There are other countries to explore in the region and those who like authentic Asian culture should head to Myanmar, Cambodia, even the Philippines. I would not waste too much time in the over-hyped, too modernized and too commercialized Thailand.

***
Sometimes I wonder if a bad reputation of a country in the media could be the divine way of protecting it from invasions of modernity which begin with throngs of tourists and investors. Places like El Salvador or Nicaragua or Myanmar are not as bad as they are painted in the media. However, tourists give it a wide birth. The same can be said about so many prosperous African countries where life is quite normal, and one can live very well but because of a bad image of Africa on TV and in newspapers, people just do not go there.

Also, sometimes bad events that happen on one isolated place can damage the reputation of the whole country or region, effectively keeping so many people out of it. Say, if there is war in Sierra Leone, people will not visit Cameroon. Or any place in the Sub Saharan Africa, for that matter. If there is a war in Lebanon, people will not go to Jordan. Hey, it’s the Middle East. Lebanon, Jordan, what’s the difference?

When there are kidnappings in a remote area of the Philippines, it makes the whole country look dangerous and people cancel their travel plans to Manila.

Pity! One needs to do some research and ask around. Dangers are often greatly exaggerated and bad events in one area do not have to mar the whole region. Personally, I like going to places that are in close but somewhat safe proximity to the danger zones. They are usually virginal and pristine and if you calculate your odds well, you will have nothing to worry about.

***

Asian sex sites have been proliferating on the net for over a decade now, and they are getting very many visitors. I will not pass any moral judgments here, however, after having lived in Asia for so many years, I often laugh at some of the stupid things the owners of those sites try to pull on the unsuspecting surf-for-porn public.

They say that the site is updated weekly, but many have the same models month after month and year after year. They try and pass American-born models as “pure” Asians from all these different exotic locals, whereas I can immediately see if they are or they aren’t. And many aren’t from Asia at all.

But the funniest thing of all is how they try to dump all Asians together under some kind of common porn culture. They have Filipina models with ornaments around the site that represent Chinese food containers or, worse, they try to palm one Asian off as being another. Some sites pretend to have girls performing lurid acts in Laos of all places. I know what Lao people look like. I also know that it is a Communist country that would not allow such things. But even if they somehow used Lao models to create pornographic images from them, how come they have the Japanese “ washibana”- aguiline noses, that is? I can clearly see that the faces of the models are as Japanese as they can get. Are the rest of the sex surfers as stupid as to confuse those two?

Some sites who promise Vietnamese sex actually have all these Thai models on them. I know what the Vietnamese people look like. The ones they have on some of such sites are all Thais. Dressed like Thais, with Thai faces and movements. I have seen enough of both ethnicities to know which is which.

Sometimes you have one model on one site, who is presented as a Korean, pop up on another site as a Vietnamese. Lol!

And guess what else? They have newer and newer sites with the same models and the same movies in them. They must be raking in big bucks and the average Joe six pack is probably satisfied. Heck, they all have slanted eyes and yellow skin, so who cares where they come from?

Those Asian sites are laugh, for sure. Don’t waste your money on them.

***

If you ask me what the most beautiful language in the world is, I will say to you that it is Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. Actually, I used to like French and Spanish and Italian but when I first heard Tagalog, I was completely awed by it. It sounded just like someone was playing a piano. Try and listen to it - when you have many Tagalog speakers, like on the streets of Manila, it sounds like a piano concert. Not many other languages can sound like musical instruments, but Tagalog does. I could sit and listen to it for hours. When I began studying it in earnest, I thought that it and no other language should be called the language of love. There are so many expressions to convey love, and everything is so gentle and indirect. The entire language is basically based on passive voice with verbs being inflexed from within. Instead of saying “I love you” you say ““Endeared I am by you”. And even when you say something like “Take it” it is expressed as, “Taken it be by you!” Kind of solemn and delicate. When you start learning the language and trying to put your ideas into their new piano-sounding shells, you will be amazed how beautifully they will come out. You are now Mr. Horowitz playing the piano with you mouth and joining the great concerto of the Filipino nation.

I think that any educated person should devote time to studying that beautiful language and its very rich literature. When information and human thoughts are expressed in Tagalog, they sound incredibly rich. Almost astral-like. Please study Tagalog, you will not regret it.

1 comment:

Cal said...

Didn't you say that you've occassionally regretted it?

I say this in jest, but I also say it because I will be in Luzon for 1-2 years and am trying to figure out how much time to spend learning tagalog.

Cheers,
Cal