Monday, June 13, 2011

The Cost Of Doing Business

There’s a nice folklore museum in Pitsanalok called the Sergeant Major Doctor Tawee Museum of Thai Folklore. Khun Sgt. Maj. Dr. Tawee is a nice guy, he raised the money and started the place when he retired from the Royal Thai Army.

There are many rooms of things to see. Lots of hand-crafted gizmos made from rattan or bamboo for use in catching fish, or birds, or snakes; recreations of rooms that were the usual thing in countryside houses long ago; pictures of modern people wearing traditional costumes from various periods. I’d been there before, but my favorite observation on this visit was the “bribes” to be paid for various services back in the day.

The “bribe” refers not to the fee owed to the practitioner, but rather to the offering that must accompany the task. I made note of two of them:

A. Upon the Castration of a Bull:

To the castrator. This display was accompanied by many photos of a bull under powerful duress. The offering was to consist of:

1. One bottle of whiskey;
2. One half of one coconut;
3. Three joss sticks;
4. One candle;
5. Three betel nuts;
6. Three cigarettes; and
7. Twelve Baht.

B. Upon the Birth of a Baby:

To the midwife. This display featured a nice recreation of a birthing room. The offering was:

1. Three betel nuts;
2. Three bananas;
3. Three joss sticks;
4. Three cigarettes;
5. One “small” bottle of whiskey; and
6. One Baht, fifty Satang.

One “bribe” seems to outweigh the other, but I offer no comment on that.

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