A day begins before dawn when the wife awakens and quietly goes downstairs. In semi-darkness, roosters’ cries disturbing the early morning tranquillity, she lights a charcoal fire and prepares rice for the family breakfast and for the local Buddhist monks who make daily morning food collections. As the food cooks she will probably go to bathe.
Thais have high standards of personal hygiene and cleanliness. Villagers bathe at least twice daily in canals, streams or ponds, or they may fetch water from the village well and pour it over themselves with handbasins. In rural areas hair is kept relatively short, each family boasting its own ‘barber’, normally the mother.
Everyday village dress is simple. Men generally wear shorts, a simple shirt and their versatile pakaoma - a checkered strip of cotton cloth loosely worn around the waist which, at a moment’s notice, can serve as a turban for sun protection, a loincloth to preserve modesty during public bathing, a sweat-absorbing towel or a hammock.
Women wear the pasin (the Thai sarong) and a simple blouse or bodice. For several years, young children play naked in the family compound. From about the age of four, young girls begin wearing skirts. Except when they're dressed in their school uniforms and on normal occasions, children generally go ‘topless’ until about the age of ten.
Bathed -and neatly dressed, the wife gives food to the monks, placing her offerings in their food bowls. Around this time the rest of the family will begin getting up. Older children will immediately feed family livestock tethered under the house and the ducks and chickens freely roaming in the yard. Afterwards, the children will lead the livestock into adjoining fields to graze before they, too, bathe. After bathing, the father of the household may inspect his nearby fields or prepare farming tools for the day’s work.
The entire family eats together on the verandah floor, sitting in a circle around a large rice bowl and whatever dishes the wife has prepared.
By eight, the wife has rolled up the sleeping mats, washed dishes and seen her children off to school and her husband to work in the fields. On certain days she may go to the nearest market where she will ex-change or sell surplus vegetables, eggs, fruit, chickens, ducks, perhaps homemade sweets, textiles or other handicrafts in return for items the household needs but does not produce itself - kerosene, sugar, charcoal and the like. Invariably, she will leave some-one, perhaps a grandparent, at home to wash, iron, look after younger children, mill rice, tend the family plot and guard the house.
If their school is nearby, children return home to eat a midday meal with adults not working the fields or at the market. After-wards, the children return to school and, unless there is important work to be done, the remainder of the family enjoys an after-noon nap.
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Article Added on Thursday, January 7, 2010
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