LEADERS - not followers

Saturday, May 31, 2008

WI Extravagant, Class, Fall From Grace

Many of us come from relatively humble backgrounds,
and I guess we can all look back and laugh at ‘harder times’,
as we remember when even the basic, simple pleasures, seemed EXTRAVAGENT


It was built for neither speed nor comfort
But all I could afford back in the day
Was something to get us from A to B
That we could jump aboard without delay
The main thing; it was perfect just for two
My choice of transport was hardly random
A classic; built by master craftsmen
Ok, so what if it was a tandem?

So, where are we now? Has our social status improved?
Or are we worse off than before?
Of course some are born into a life of self-sufficiency.
‘The Good Life’? Or abject poverty?


Harvest time in Isan
Means labour; sweat and pain
Gathering food for another year
That Holy, precious grain

Rice! Glutinous and sticky
Is what it’s all about
We’re off, down to the farm now
It’s time to check it out

The heat is so oppressive
One hundred in the shade
A flash of light that dazzles you
Is just the sickle blade

But it’s money in your pocket
And worth it, in a way,
For ten hours work, not riches,
Two hundred Baht a day

That’s just three Pounds, in English.
Would you get out of bed
For even that, an hour
Or stay asleep instead?

I don’t think so, but here
It’s an honest daily rate
Food and drink included
You go home feeling great!

And when it’s all been gathered
It’s time to sort it out
The rice from chaff; and bag it
Two hundred sacks, about

That’s sixteen sacks a month, though
Much more than we can eat
We’ll sell a hundred sacks, or more
This year we’ll have a treat

And when we get the rice home
We can use it, straight away
Fresh grown rice for breakfast
Lunch, tea, dinner, every day!

Boiled, steamed, or sticky
Cook it how you wish
But in Isan, we’re not fussy
So it’s STICKY every dish!

And what if the ‘unthinkable’ happens? Would we cope without
some of the EXTRAVAGANCES our concept of
CLASS and its 'advantages' provide?
How would we react to such a FALL FROM GRACE?


What happens when all the good food runs out?
When the supermarkets don’t open late?
Will they expect us to just do without?
To take the last resort and seal our fate?
What happens when they shut their doors for good?
Or bad, more like. What do people do then?
The village stores are just not big enough
To cope with the demands of hungry men
There’ll be no choice; we’ll have to live on bread
And water, just like prisoners in jail
But our jail is the world that we have made
We’ll have to put our houses up for sale
Because we won’t be fit to go to work;
Toiling on empty stomachs doesn’t pay.
Are we not men? How come nobody knows?
Where does all the food come from anyway?

Take a look around you and you will see
Many people, not as well-off as you
People who have never known it better
People from countries, not so well-to-do
You never stop to think how they survive
No work, no money; nowhere to call home
How do you think those people stay alive?
Do as the Roman’s do, when you’re in Rome
Do you think that food doesn’t grow on trees?
Swim in rivers and crawl along the ground?
Go out fishing; keep your own birds and bees
That’s what they do; their world still spins around
Survival of the fittest may not be
A ‘cool’ concept for modern-thinking men
But you must know, that when ‘push’ comes to ‘shove’
You’re just like Daniel in the lion’s den
Except, of course, you have to stand and fight
The first time in your life; are you prepared?
Or will you just surrender to the beast?
You should have known; you should have really cared

This life of convenience makes us all
Expect we can get anything at all
When we want; on twenty four-seven call
Let’s see what happens when the dark skies fall.


  1. "This life of convenience makes us all
    Expect we can get anything at all
    When we want; on twenty four-seven call
    Let’s see what happens when the dark skies fall."

    This summed it up perfectly. Timely pieces. And, yes, we lead such lives of convenience that we never stop to think of the struggles and hunger others go through elsewhere. Thank you for posting this and reminding us of the riches we already have.

  2. From time to time, I find that reassessing my priorities helps me to consider those who don't have the luxury of options.

  3. We certainly live a life of convenience. We take for granted so much. But in recent times, since I lost so much in my life, suddenly "reassessing priorities" is paramount.

    I definitely feel that there should be some lessons in the happiness/value of a lifestyle that is not all about expensive electronics, fine houses and a bulbous bank account.


  4. "And what if the ‘unthinkable’ happens? Would we cope without
    some of the EXTRAVAGANCES our concept of
    CLASS and its 'advantages' provide?
    How would we react to such a FALL FROM GRACE?"

    that would be answered by the maturity that one has developed over the years, the true understanding of ones life, and whats important will define how we will reach I guess.

  5. I like how these three poems increase in darkness, seriousness, and weight, Stan. All make excellent points that tap into my darkest fears -- if you saw me and my husband, you'd understand why I'm scared of riding tandem with him! -- and yet at the same time, offer solutions: change our world-view and learn to make do.

    I like that.

  6. How prophetic of you, it really is much later than we all think, food and fuel prices are increasing daily and it's only a matter of time now till we all reap what we have sown. Who was it that said: If you don't plant you don't eat?

  7. An interesting trio of poems. Of course one of the contrasts is we don't have to go out and gather our own food anymore, so we're a bit complacent. And we forget others live a lot closer to that line than we do.
    Nicely done!

  8. Excellent poems, especially the last one. I think if it all fell, the west would prove the weakest.
    We've forgotten how to survive.

  9. The third is by far your most ominous. Always a pleasure to visit Stan - your words always have something thought provoking to say.

  10. i will always remember the phrase "survival of the fittest, extinction of the unfit"

    loved the series of the poems here, especially there's a rice crisis within asia.

  11. Thanks to:
    rebbecca; My initial comment was in acknowledgement to yours.
    Gemma; We all experience loss, and yes, it's a great leveller.
    rambler; sometimes ambition overrides reason.
    susan helene gottfried; Laugh at the past; fear the future. Or learn from the past in order to avoid realisation of our fears.
    Andy; and it's no fun in the lion's den. In answer to your question - I'm not sure, but he got it just about right.
    constance; some live on that line, or below it. Are we heading the same way?
    anthonynorth; eat to live, or live to eat, sums up one difference between east and west.
    texasblu; perhaps the writing is on the wall; thanks for stopping by.
    totomai; Good point - and it's basically the people at the bottom of the food chain who stand to suffer or gain as a consequence.