Saturday, June 30, 2007

Let Me Sleep On It

I read somewhere that the Thai's favourite pastime is sleep. I don't know if it's true or not but everywhere I go in Thailand, I see people sleeping: dozing in fold-out chairs, laid on their back, limbs straight to fit neatly onto large window ledges, snoring in hammocks tied between trees, freeway supports and makeshift shacks at the edge of busy roads. When there are no customers in the beauty salons, staff lay sleeping on the banana-lounge treatment chairs. There is no shame about sleeping.
Maybe this is one of the reasons I feel so at home there. I sleep a lot. I can fall asleep any time, on any surface. In my teen years, I slept on bare floors at friends houses, using my arms as a pillow. I've slept in scores of cheap, posture-wrecking beds. I've fallen asleep with my head on the steering wheel of my car as I waited a few minutes for my boyfriend. I drift into a blissful sleep after hours of lovemaking.
I sleep when I am depressed, in the hope that when I wake I will feel better. I sleep to relax when I am tense. I sleep to keep warm or to cool down. I sleep like the dead. I have slept through the sirens of fire-engines coming to put out a fire in a house I was staying at. I sleep an hour or two nearly every afternoon.
I feel guilty about sleeping even for the usual eight hours at night. If roused by a phone call or a visitor, I pretend I've been awake. It's an embarrassing, obvious lie. I think, like most Westerners, that I should be awake and doing
something, that sleep is a waste of time.
In Thailand, there is no such guilt. Ironically, I don't sleep as much when I'm there.

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