I best start with a cultural note - for Thais, there are certain 'no nos' associated with the feet which are regarded as the lowest/dirtiest part of the body - one takes one's shoes off when entering a home, one can't point one's feet at a Buddha image, never step over someone or their personal belongings, never stop something from blowing away with one's feet......
Yesterday we were at the markets with our neighbouring Thai friend, Pong. I love the ambience of the markets, food of such incredible variety, of such unparalled freshness & at prices that defy belief. The array of choice & of colour is astounding. Thailand must be the best place, bar none, to eat & to eat well. Its so easy to see that this is a country of cultivaters; the first civilisation on earth to have engaged in agriculture. The markets represent a real microcosm of Thai society.
The market was its usual busy self, though I noticed that not only were motorbikes moving along the tiny & exceptionally busy alleyways amongst the vendors, but, on this occassion, a number of cars also, which gave shoppers absolutely no space in which to move.
We did our shopping & headed home. That night, after a couple of high octane beers, Pong suddenly started to tell a story to the other Thais there-present which went something like this:
'When we were at the markets this morning, we were rushing about the place when a car suddenly came by. With no-where to move quickly & so as to avoid the car, Roderick (or Loderlick as Pong says it) simply took a giant step over produce laid out in two big baskets in front of this little old lady vendor. She, unbeknown to Loderlick, was markedly upset, & I (ie Pong) immediately overheard her saying:'The big white buffalo just walked straight over my stand; that's ruined my luck & good-fortune for today's market.....'
The Thais (at home for the bbq) all burst into great laughter; & yes, I was now known as 'White Buffalo'. Pong explained that he'd been embarrassed to mention what had happened beforehand. He mentioned he'd spoken with the (distraught) lady & explained that as a farang (westerner) I didn't realise what I was doing....that all would be well.
I thought 'White Buffalo' had a certain ring to it, until one of the Thais then laughingly explained that, for them a buffalo represents the greatest ignorance & stupidity! White Buffalo will be heading back to the markets tomorrow to buy a little something from this 'little old lady', if she doesn't first, flee in fear at seeing me1