Friday, November 14, 2008

One of the things I committed to doing once I became mobile again is to get involved in things outside my own home and immediate environment.

I've been driving around like a whirling dervish, trying various things that interest me, volunteer opportunities and ~ well ~ just anything that sparks me at the moment.

Last Saturday, I went out to another local wat (yes, more wat drama) because they offer language classes that I'd like to take.

I don't think I have ever encountered a less welcoming group of people, all of whom stood around in their small groups, not interacting with each other in any way. By nature, I'm not a socially aggressive person and wandered here and there, trying to find a comfortable opening. They were having their usual Saturday morning feed. While the food smelled great, I had no interest in having any.

The reason is that it didn't seem possible to penetrate those cliques. (Maybe next time, I'll take a bunch of Tupperware, buy it and bring it home.) Seriously though, I don't think even one person made the effort to say "hello", "sawadee", "who the devil are you" or "kiss my a... ".

Typically, I do better with groups that have a common focus ~ such as reading groups, classes of some sort or a common activity. It seems much easier that way. The socializing can come after getting to know each other when there is already a commonality established.

I left that place feeling almost shell-shocked. I'm not accustomed to blatant rudeness and am usually received well, wherever I choose to go. I might not be adopted into the family or included in anyone's will ~ but I'm generally treated kindly and with courtesy.

So I'm looking at the idea of giving it one more try tomorrow morning, just to see if perhaps it was a bad day ~ or there was something going on that I don't know about. It would be easy to just write them off as a snobbish little community, satisfied among themselves but that might be a bit premature.

I'd be interested in hearing your views on this.... not what I should do so much as what you would do. How do you handle situations like that? Burst in like you own the place, back off, write them off or keep trying....



heartinsanfrancisco said...

I know there are cultural differences, but you have already experienced Thai hospitality at its best. Rudeness is rudeness no matter who is doing it.

I guess trying again would depend on how much I wanted to belong there, and also how much possible further rejection I felt like handling.

Some societies ARE closed to strangers, whether farang or just unknown. It sounds as if the society at this particular wat may be one such place and if so, they have strayed far from their Thai roots which I know from you to be normally compassionate and sincerely welcoming of strangers at their door.

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, and cannot guess the reason. But since you went there with an open heart, the fault is not with you or your otherness. It seems as if the whole point of such places should be inclusive, not exclusive.

Anvilcloud said...

I guess they're like churches, and I've usually felt like a square peg in them. Like you, I do better in a situation in which there is an activity involved.

flutter said...

Bust in like you own the place. Say hello, be warm, be impossible to ignore.

I do it every single day.

SUEB0B said...

It would depend on my mood. Sometimes I am very gregarious, but I can also be terribly sensitive to slights. I can see giving it another chance, but I can also see myself writing it off. Often there is one key person who, if you meet, all the other doors will open. I don't mean a formal leader, but someone who has taken the position of welcomer, and once they take you under their wing, you will be in. It is finding that person that is sometimes difficult because they might not be there or might be busy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chani, but I apparently missed whatever post explained what a wat was or is. still I can relate to joining into groups as a stranger. I wandered around my new church trying to figure out where everyone was the first time I went, and was confronted by the two priests and a couple of other sundry parishioners, with the usual, "can I help you?" to which I replied, "Hi, I am unhappy Catholic!" That broke the ice, and laughter ensured. I felt part of the gang ever since. I often use humor as means of introducing myself and finding a kindred spirit who will be my first friend.

Anonymous said...

I think I would have done exactly like you did - respectfully try to join in, but if I was not included, I would have felt awkward and anxious to get out of there. Then again, as you know, I find social activities difficult.
This was not the actual language class, right? So maybe that will be fine.

Amy Y said...

I tend to give up and move on when faced with a situation like that... I feel like life's too short to continue putting myself out on the line to be subjected to rejection and hurt. Of course, i could be giving up the opportunity to find new friendships but I personally like to surround myself with warm friendly people. And people are usually like that the first time I meet them if they are going to be.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I usually try to find one or two people to talk to, . . . and I think, like you, I'd be inclined to give them a second chance. So many things could explain what happened the other day. For instance, if a member of the community had died unexpectedly or violently, they could all be in shock.

But if you try again and meet with the same result, then you could probably conclude they are an unfriendly community.

Joan said...

good grief how my heart goes out to you!
And might I add that it seems pretty damn brave of you that you would consider returning... BUT the very fact that you'd consider giving it one more try, is an indication that some place within you, you want to return and are hoping for a warmer reception, which by all means, means "GO"!!!

I'm like you, fairly outgoing, warm, embracing, and usually well liked... but you are a bigger girl than me, because if what you described had happened to me? Where I was either generally ignored or looked upon as if I had been caught eating my boogers... well, I'd say 'screw them!!' who needs the hassle? who needs the rejection? who needs the 'pre-judgement'?
And even if I were caught eating my boogers, I'd still expect to be treated a bit nicer than that.
I dear heart cannot handle rejection one whit.
And I concur with Amy... life is just too short!!

ps. I would NEVER treat anyone like that!!


womaninawindow said...

I'm not a good example. I left the country when someone threw me a party. But that's a whole other story. Usually in new and cultural environments I guffaw myself into a conversation. But you're right to go back. There might have been an event that threw everyone off. Best to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe even ask someone how things usually go with new interested members?

FranIAm said...

Oh Chani, I so feel every word of your post.

It can be so challenging to not have a way in and to have people who are not responsive to the presence of another.

It does seem very rude.

I would say to probably give it another try and if no one is responsive, then move on.

I give you so much credit for what you are doing and how you are doing it. You really inspire me Chani.

Anonymous said...

I'm no help. I'm the person who sits in the corner until a gregarious, generous person comes over to talk to me or the most dysfunctional person in the room targets me for support! I hate groups and want to run into the mountains and never come out after an experience like yours. In fact, I've been known to feel the way you've described after a simple gathering of social acquaintances that I know well!

Carol said...

I am waaaaayyyy too introverted to be able to make myself go back to a situation like that. I admire you for your willingness to give it another shot.

I'd love to get an update of how things go for you when/if you try again.

Say It said...

I usually find the other misfit and comiserate with them.

Rich said...

I am more on the introverted side (i guess that's whay I have a blog) but I do try to get out and about and into situations where I will be challanged socially. When facing an encounter or lack there of like the one you had I usually won't go back but I will try some other group/s or social even.

Thanks for visiting Beantown BTW

Indigo said...

Indigo Incarnates

Well, I've had a similar experience in religion. I was a Christian for many years and had been a member of several churches over a 20-year-period. But I can honestly say that I was never able to really fit in. Like, at the coffee hour it seemed like no one would ever talk to me. And once in a while, someone would ask "are you new here?" And I would reply, "no, I've been in the choir for 15 years. You see me every week."

When I began following the Wiccan Path, I found the experience completely different. I'm active in two worship groups (Turning Circle and Cedar Light). In both groups, I've been made to feel so welcome and wanted. It's been a really positive experience for me. The Priestess at Turning Circle actually trusted me enough to lead a worship service last night. That's a really high honor to bestow on someone so new to the faith. I'm really happy.

Anonymous said...

I was treated rudely one time at a Hare Krishna temple. Later I found out that they'd had problems with people who came in and ate their fill of food, but never attended the classes or worship services, and didn't pitch in to help either by donating or by helping with the dishes. Experience had taught them to be wary of strangers.

It still wasn't fair that I was treated as I was- but I understand it.

Maybe they have a reason, conscious or unconscious, to be wary of newcomers, too. If that's the case, you might have to go back several times before the ice thaws.

Defiantmuse said...

I probably wouldn't have gone even the first time. But I don't do well with social situations like that. Even going to parties where I know just a few people is not my idea of a good time. It's kind of weird b/c one-on-one I'm great with people, even in small groups I feel comfortable. But big crowds, people I don't know and awkward situations like you described? I tend to just avoid things like that. Healthy or not. But knowing what I know of you I would think you'd give them one more chance before making any definitive decisions. I'd be interested to hear what happens the second time around.

RKK said...

In this type of situation, I usually don't return to the social group part of things. I would, however, take the language class, and just worry about getting from it what I needed. As you have said, too, the common focus of some class or endeavor usually tends to help with the social aspect, and often delayed acceptance and welcome comes that way.

Border Explorer said...

I enjoy the comments here as much as your post. In answer to your question: we are very similar.

Michelle said...

I'm not a very outgoing person and in that situation I'd withdraw farther and farther away from people. I'd go once more but if it happened again, I'd stop going.

Jon said...

From my experiences Thai people seem very interested/friendly with farangs and 1/2 will pluck up the courage to converse, before the other, less outgoing individuals feel that ice has been broken.

Different scenario when it is somewhere/something sacred to Thais and not just the market.

Personally, I wouldn't take classes at a Wat unless you are a buddhist and known to the crowd there. Seems that they likely offended by your presence at this sacred place.

Religion can cause war, death and suffering, a powerful force that can bring out the best/worse in people.