Today, as I was sitting with my coteacher watching our fifth graders (who we were supposed to be teaching) as they were doing preliminary races for the school group wide sports competition, I received my first pink envelope.
Pink envelopes in Thailand are used for wedding invitations (could they be more obvious?) and the subsequent money you drop in to give to the happy couple (there’s a certain way to do this, only in even or odd amounts of money… I totally forget though, I should get on that). I’ve seen Pi-Chaai with plenty of these and have accompanied her to a few weddings as well. Today though, I have my very own.
Not that Thai weddings are a very exclusive affair. All the teachers at this school were invited. Anyone and their brother, sister, and boyfriend’s cat can show up. I’ve been to three weddings so far, have known none of the couples, and the people I came with only knew them very vaguely. This goes for monk ordinations too. Pretty much all events are this way, so invitations aren’t really that important anyway.
But to me, this little pink envelope was a sign. A sign that people (in this case, the community college) know of me, my name, what I’m doing here, and that they’ve accepted me as one of them. The crazy farang with the booming laugh and the broken Thai. In a place where I’m literally head and shoulders different from everyone else and the Thais do nothing to hide their open curiosity and ‘wtf are you doing here’ looks/pointing, this small gesture on their part made me feel welcomed with open arms (much more so than the constant badgering about eating spicy Thai food and refusing to let me do things on my own- this is what they think it means to ‘take care you’). Eight months at site and eleven in-country, this feels really good.
Now all I have to do is figure out if I’ve ever met the bride and/or groom!