Schadenfreude is defined at taking
pleasure in someone else's misfortune. In a healthy mind this pleasure is
really one of relief. The relief that it did not happen to oneself. It's why
we laugh when we see someone slip on a banana skin.
creeping up on me. The rain it raineth every day, for months… and months. I
feel particularly fortunate as I have hardly seen a puddle that lasted for
more than half an hour on my moo baan.
Others have not been
so fortunate. We have all seen pictures of terrible devastation in the
countryside and many people, on other moo baans, have had their lower floors
and gardens inundated on several occasions. Many local businesses have
suffered, both from a loss of business and damage to their property. Some
will never recover.
often bring people together and sometimes create heroes. I always think it
is the personal stories of individuals that help us understand the news,
better than simply reading about the scale of the problem.
A friend of mine has
a restaurant, near the Ping River. He had the foresight to build a
restaurant about a foot above the street and therefore only suffered about 2
inches of water entering his premises. The businesses round about were not
so lucky. Many had been built many years ago when, presumably, flooding was
a less common occurrence.
neighbours found that their cooking facilities were unusable, besides which
they had an urgent need to clean their premises as quickly as possible. The
restaurant immediately changed from a restaurant into a place where the
local people could gain food and water and thereby continue their work.
As I wandered around
Chiang Mai a few days ago I was horrified to see the thick layer of silt in
the night market and other parts of the city. I was impressed by the way so
many people were scrubbing and swilling the silt away, cleaning their
businesses ready to open for work. They smiled and joked, worked furiously
and seemed positive about the future rather than depressed about the past.
Many areas have
suffered far more than Chiang Mai. We received a call today from a friend in
Ayutthaya. She received a warning a few days ago about possible flooding in
her moo baan and so she put all her possessions from the first-floor up to
the second. The water is now halfway up the walls of the first story.
Although furniture, electrical equipment and clothes, indeed virtually
everything is lost. What is more disturbing is that her business is renting
out electronic recruitment. Her complete stocks have been destroyed. Almost
overnight she has been made homeless and jobless.
I find it truly
impressive that none of these people who have been affected by these
dreadful floods are giving up. They keep fighting; determined to succeed
somehow. Whilst they would like some money from the government and, indeed,
some may be expected, they are not sitting down waiting for the government
to solve the problem. The Thais are a truly resilient people.
Yet was just two
years ago that concern was expressed in Chiang Mai because the reservoirs
had not filled during the rainy season. We know that global warming is
causing greater extremes of weather than in living memory. We also know that
the tropics will suffer greater extremes than those in the north and south
of this small world of ours.
There is no doubt
that Thailand will receive similar volumes of water in the near future. In
the towns and cities many floodplains have been built upon and there are
fewer places for excess water to drain away. There will be similar flooding
in future. Perhaps not next year, maybe not even the year after, but
certainly within a decade.
One aspect of these
floods is that many middle-class concrete houses have been affected. The
owners of these houses may well start to put pressure on the government,
both local and national.
Whatever else the
government chooses to do it must face up to the fact that clubs will occur
with increasing frequency unless strenuous efforts are made to avoid the
problem in the future. This will require a great deal of money and
sufficient discipline to avoid the worst ravages of corruption. I wish them
As I write the Prime
Minister has appeared on the news stating that it is likely that Bangkok
itself will be affected. If this does happen perhaps the politicians will
unite and decide to tackle this problem that they have been talking about
for many years.
If nothing is done
then, as the years go on, the situation will become worse and fewer of us
will be able to enjoy the feeling of Schadenfreude.