I received a much longer article from Dolly. I suppose it could be deemed as an article from an anonymous author until she gives us the authors name. I have abridged it and will be happy to send the original to who ever wants to read it in full.
Comparing India and Thailand
A visit to Thailand takes the Indian aback because .......
Thais behave as Europeans do.Traffic is disciplined, Bangkok has evening jams as bad as those in Bombay. But these are silent jams, people do not honk. Cars remain in their place, moving forward when their turn comes.
Because there is trust ..... In India the trust is missing and, that is why, so is the discipline.
The third difference is the approach to work. Thais do things themselves, as people do in the west. But there is also, unlike India, a culture of equality of work.....a comfort with one's status in life that is not there in our culture.
The fourth difference is cleanliness. Thais are one of the cleanest races in the world. India do not have a very appreciative sense of hygiene with the sole exception of Kerala which is probably the only state in India known for its cleanliness, both personal and public, Bangkok lives outdoors and life spills out onto the street at all times of the day. Few families cook at home, and so most meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner -- are had in stalls on the streets. Despite this, roads are always clean. There is also hygiene: the vendor of fruit on the street cuts and serves it without ever touching it with his hands.
Most toilets anywhere in the country, city, town, village, airport, restaurant, will not just be clean, they will be polished and fragrant. ....The culture is not me-versus-the-world, as it is in India where, outside our homes, we leave a place dirty because someone else will clean it up and we are not coming back to it.
The fifth thing we notice is respect for the individual and for personal space. And the knowledge that the individuals space must not be intruded upon physically or mentally without apology. To see it so entrenched in Thailand is puzzling.......their civic behaviour is not the result of a process of modernisation, as it would be in India, but inherent to the culture.
This is a most difficult thing for the Indian to swallow....Thais will wait a few steps away from someone talking to another person, and approach only when the other is disengaged. This ability to see people as individuals means that there is politeness of a sort that takes the Indian aback.
On a visit a few years ago, a woman whose village shop I was in was approached by a beggar, who was tattered and bleeding. She did not give him any money, but spoke to him with the same politeness and respect that she showed me...
Once, I heard the raised voice of an irritated customer in the showroom asking the saleswoman not to play games over the discounts available. It was a woman in an Indian group, of course, and I fled -- in embarrassment at the woman's behaviour but also in shame because I knew that it could just as easily have been me: that is how we behave with sellers. No Thai behaves like that. It means that there is something within Thai culture that makes them civilised, but what?
Could it be Buddhism, the dominant feature of Thai culture? If it is, then the message Thais absorbed from that religion is very different from the one absorbed in India, the source of Buddhism.
Thai culture is spectacularly aesthetic, and, unlike India's, fully engaged with nature. Flower pots have clear water, aquatic plants and little fish. The fish, I realised, also ate up mosquito larvae.
Architecture is first rate, whether the house owner is rich, middle-class or peasant. In Bombay you could spend a million dollars (Rs4.5 crore) buying an apartment and the building would look like rubbish.
Thailand's infrastructure is 30 or 40 years ahead of India's and, if anything, I find the gap increasing each visit.Thailand's per capita income is four times higher than India's, and its income distribution is superior.
India has a great religious heritage and one of the world's finest artistic cultures, deep and wide, from Indo-Persian to Carnatic, and we are justly proud of it. But an unemotional observation of our civilisation will reveal how it is also different, and wanting. We could tell ourselves, as Naipaul has, that we had something superior once which was disturbed by foreign invasion.
But the evidence for that is thin. The parts of India that have not been touched by colonisation are actually primitive. And there is nothing noble or civilised in the way that these communities live: the life of people in these villages is as short and as brutal as those of animals.
The best of India, intellectually, culturally and civilisationally is in its towns and cities, not its villages. And when we compare our cities and our civic behaviour with those of the world we are humbled by our mediocrity.