Pattaya In Black, White And Grey – Three Very Symbolic Colours
Thailand’s One-Year Period Of Mourning
Some hours ago, I went into my local 7-Eleven and asked an employee who was laughing hilariously if he would kindly serve me. He did. I was still annoyed and pointing to his black ribbon in memory of his king I asked provocatively how long he was going to wear it. That wiped the remnants of his smirky smile-grin off his somewhat plump, fast-food face.
When I wrote “Pattaya In Black And White – Two Very Symbolic Colours” last autumn, I was ruminating on the king’s death and on buildings decked in those colours which created for me an impressive sense of loss and resurrection, too, by contrast. That was about six months ago. Today as I go round Pattaya, I see the same decked buildings but I’d say they are in black and grey. Pollution has taken its toll and certainly changed the white to off-white.
Thailand and its people seem to me, anyway, to be about the same. Fun, smiles, laughter, business as usual even though the mourning will only end in October, 2017. Of course, the royal family, monks, families close to the king, politicians and dignitaries still remember and are sad but just as the white is off-white so too do the people get on with life. Which is normal.
Last autumn, after the king’s death on October the 13th, 2016, I wrote:
“But whatever you think and however you see it, a building, an impersonal building, draped in black and white streamers, is going to get you thinking. They tell me Bangkok is mourning far more, but I would need to go there to get the taste of it. This morning I am going to get the taste of some Thai fruits in Pattaya. Their colours are overwhelming! Fruit, glorious fruit, fresh, delicious, tasting of Thailand and the far east, and because it is business as usual in Fun City, I’ll buy to my heart’s content – near those selected edifices impressively ribboned in black and white.”
This morning I can add “grey” and a passing thought from his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej: “Goodness is something that makes us serene and content; it is magnificent. Those who are not good are evil.”
The revered king, the renowned king, lives on despite the 7-Eleven hilarity. I am sure there are still many Thais who are profoundly sad to have lost their popular, thoughtful, thought-provoking monarch. Black and white. Good and evil. But I hasten to add the white is off-white or grey today as weather, pollution and time take their toll, and thought itself seems grey, not black and white.