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A Challenge to Readers

I’m working on a piece of creative nonfiction – hopefully for magazine submission – about this year’s Thai New Year in Chicago and how it was effected by the crisis in Bangkok. The writing went well for a few paragraphs until I hit a roadblock: when it came to giving the reader a background to the subject, I was at a loss where to begin and even what to say. On some level, I guess I question my own understanding of how the crisis began, and want to know how others would explain the situation to, say, a friend who asks, “So what’s going on in Thailand?”

So I’m proposing a challenge. Can you describe, in 150 words or less, how the current political debacle in Thailand came to be? Is that even possible? A clear, concise, and reasonably neutral description of the events? If I like it, I might ask you for permission to adapt it for my piece. 🙂

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Introduction

I remember the day when Thailand’s current political crisis began.

I was  in my eleventh grade journalism class when my teacher, Ms. Patterson, decided to lecture about conducting online research. To that end, she wheeled into the classroom my school’s collection of laptops for student use. Like a child with a new toy, I decided to check the Bangkok Post on a whim. That’s when I saw the headline: Thaksin Shinawatra, then premier, ousted in a bloodless coup.

Back then I was too young to understand the implications of the day’s politics, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated that, four years later, they would create such chaos. That very coup I read about in Ms. Patterson’s class has created a deep rift in Thai society. Today Bangkok, my birthplace, resembles a war zone, with open violence in the streets; words like “anarchy” and “civil war” splatter the front pages, and Thailand has forever lost its title as the “Land of Smiles.”

In many ways it’s appropriate that my first encounter with the situation was during a class about finding trustworthy newsources. Since that day in October 2006, my main exposure to Thai politics has been through the media, both Thai and international, and its varied – often discordant – views on the subject.

I have created this blog in an attempt to make sense of Thailand’s political turmoil, as well as to document the experiences of the Thai American community in Chicago as their homeland is in the grips of this mass unrest.

My username, nedhra, is from a Sanskrit word meaning “eye” and invokes not only the ability to see, but also to judge, discern,  and – hopefully – to understand.

That said, I must admit I’m not an expert on the topic, nor have I been trained in political science. I am only a concerned citizen trying my best to understand what’s going on back home. In the spirit of intellectual debate, I welcome the exchange of ideas on this website, and I hope that other people will engage with me and with each other as well in sharing their opinions. However, I must ask that everyone remain civil, whether communicating with myself or with another person; remarks that are personally insulting, patronizing , or flagrantly rude will not be tolerated. I know that politics are bound to stir up strong emotions, but there’s enough madness in the streets of Bangkok. Let’s keep this discussion polite.

Welcome to the Land of Smiles.

nedhra

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