Better Read Than Never: THE HELP

Amid the pampered comings and leavings in the lobby of a Chiang Mai hotel, and here on a sunny balcony overlooking the baking tourists by the pool in Krabi, I try to pretend I am not one of them. When I can’t simply enjoy warmth and leisure and good food, I am guiltily soured by this tourist business, and am too (self) conscious of the real “tourist trap”: the detachment from the serving class, the presumption that the too-visible disparity between their fortune and mine is at it should be. At its worst, it becomes a bland but bitter-edged condescension at the quaintness/ignorance/pathos/inconvenience of “these people”. These people. What a simple and toxic phrase – surely better than “these brutes”, “these savages”, but not so much different. These thoughts gain traction in a slippery tourist mind that is still digesting a jet-set reading of The Help.

Now, gentlemen! Don’t turn away, I’m talking to you,

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