Astounding-breathtaking-mesmerizing-overwhelming! That’s how I would describe my first experience of Thai Night Life. For a simpleton like me, the scene at Bangla Road, Phuket was simply awe-inspiring. I was dumbfounded! The rowdy street was like a big night club. And every night was a party!
Dazzling lights, pulsating music, jaw-dropping pole dances…Bangla road was all out to entertain and enthrall people. There were myriad night clubs, beer bars, intimate shows, and discos. The common among them all? Girls! Yes, there were girls all over- girls dancing around the poles, engaged in banter with customers and even displayed in shops!
And then there were men-all sorts of men-of different ages, ethnic background, nationalities and looks. But all eager and ready to pay for a night of a lifetime. The whole philosophy was don’t think, just drink; bang the bar girls and have fun!
For some moments, I felt myself limited in the abundance of human drones. As everywhere I turned my gaze; there were objects attracting objects! For never ever in my life I had witnessed such deep and massive objectification of human bodies.
Behind every attractive face, I saw a fake smile, fake happiness and fake life. Grown up reading fairy tales and born in a society that emphasizes marriage to be the sole destiny for every girl, I always thought prostitutes to be the victim of some cruel circumstances.
To me women who became prostitutes were either abducted and forced into the profession (like Meena Kumari in Pakeezah)or belonged to such poor and needy families that selling their bodies remained the only option to fulfill their dire need for money.
However, growing up I learnt about another class of prostitutes called ‘call girls’ who came from normal middle class families but sold themselves not because they needed money for their needs but because they wanted cash for their luxuries.
Where being ‘poor’ is considered a stigma in mainstream western society and a person’s worth is measured by the bank balance and number of branded goods one own, it is not surprising for anyone to fall for the lure of fast money.
What is troubling is the fact that our society that puts so much value on the shallow ideals of wealth and beauty refuses to consider those who want to live by these values. In the end we are left with only drones, inanimate objects, lacking any substance or human feelings.
The outward shine is just a mask to hide the emptiness, the hollowness inside. Underneath the glamour of hardcore drinking, excessive partying and loud music I saw a way of numbing the pain. The pain of belonging no where in society, the pain of objectifying one’s emotions and body.
But before I could ponder more over their empty lifestyle and victimization by society, the unexpected happened! The gradual abandon in my gait slowly unfettered my soul placing me face to face with my own inner self.
It was a sudden spiritual experience that completely overturned the tables. As I wandered the streets swaggering in my faded military print skirt, a bitter realization dawned upon me. I realized there was not much difference between those girls and normal women.
We all women are victims of the same society, the same patriarchal order. Like prisoners of a jail all our actions are judged and watched by the society. The message that women should look, behave and act in a certain way is everywhere. It is reinforced by parents, teachers, husbands and even friends.
Freedom is the price we pay to gain respect and acceptance in society and respect is the price the girls taking off clothes in strip clubs pay for gaining wealth and freedom in society. What an irony!