Salsa Dancing with Ganesh in Chiang Mai – A Day in the Life in Thailand
Searching for jobs in Thailand independently goes a little something like this: check ajarn.com, find the names of other local schools on the internet and by looking around and talking to people. Sometimes I can’t pronounce the names of the schools. I write my résumé and cover letter in google docs, download them as .pdf files, send them as an e-mail, copy them onto my USB drive, go to the laser print shop I finally found and print them out.
Next, I find where the school is, get directions in Thai, and thankfully I have a Thai friend named Prem, who has a motorbike and is happy to take me to schools. I pay for gas and our meals. I call schools to see if I can drop off and application and try to meet with someone, which is not always possible, but dropping off a paper copy of my résumé and seeing the school is always worth a visit.
Before heading out Prem gave me a tiny helmet that was nothing more than a fashion accessory, which I politely declined. Although most Thai people don’t wear helmets, I value my head and always make sure to get one that actually will protect me. I was given a second helmet. This one was so big on my head that, despite the straps, I had to hold it so it wouldn’t fall off while the motorbike was moving. After driving about 3 blocks Prem and I traded helmets. After adjusting the straps and putting my hair up in it, finally my third hemet fit. In exchange, I gave him my sunglasses for eye protection. Driving in Chiang Mai traffic is a little unnerving, and I’m glad I’m not the one doing it. I am extremely thankful to Prem, because although I could take public transportation, it would be hard for me to find these places on my own.
Getting to the school, I ask for the nearest hawng nam (bathroom) and change into non-sweaty work appropriate clothes and shoes. The next steps are finding the correct building where someone might speak English and there might be Roman script, filling out an application, where the space provided doesn’t begin to fit my amount of degrees and job experience, and giving them my cover letter and résumé, and hopefully meeting someone who works there. Then it’s off again with dear Prem to the next school to do it all over again.
Whew! After searching for jobs all day, I wanted to go do something fun.
I had heard about an art opening at Chiang Mai University and thought it might be a nice thing to do in the evening, if I had the energy. I asked my friend Alana, who is also looking for teaching work, if she wanted to go to the art opening, but she had plans for Salsa dancing around the corner. The art opening was from 6-9. At this point it was 7:30 and I wasn’t sure exactly where it was, or how readily public transportation would be available to get out to the university and back. I opted for more conveniently located salsa dancing instead.
Alana and I walked over to a bar on the second floor, ironically right upstairs from where I had printed my laser copies earlier that day. It was a nice little bar with a small dance floor and an open air seating area in back and a balcony in front. Both Thais and foreigners were there. The lesson was about to begin.
We lined up in 2 lines with women on one side and men on the other. There were more women, so sometimes I had a female partner as we moved down the line switching partners every few minutes. A Thai guy taught the brief lesson in English. Some of the songs played were actual salsa songs, but they also varied into Oye Como Va by Santana, and a few others that salsa aficionados might wrinkle their noses at. But I thought, “Come on, we’re in Thailand, which is in Asia and we’re salsa dancing! This is fantastic!”
I danced with a few people, none of whom were talented dancers. In fact, I don’t think there was one latino in the whole place. Off the dance floor, I ended up talking to a guy for a few minutes who said he can’t really follow the steps so he just does his own moves. I said, “That’s my kind of dancing.” To which he replied, “Do you want to dance?” And off we went.
We were the only ones on the dance floor and people were watching us basically make dancing fools of ourselves. At this point I was quite glad there were no latinos, because we probably would have horrified them. The thing was, with all the spinning and swooshing around, I was having a great time. Both of us were laughing our heads off while dancing.
As we got off the floor, some English guy said to me that our dancing looked like some sort of bizarre Indian mating ritual. I talked with my dance partner who I found out was from Malaysia, but of Indian heritage. His name, yes, it was Ganesh. I showed him my necklace depicting the obstacle removing Hindu elephant god of his namesake. He the told me that he had watched Elizabeth the night before.
Why live abroad inThailand? Where else am I going to be salsa dancing in SE Asia with a Malay/Indian guy named Ganesh?