Yes, it’s that time of year again when all things Canadian leap to give Thanks for the harvest. A statutory federal holiday in Canada (barring the Provinces of NB, NL, NS, and PEI) the liturgical celebration is a chance for families to come together and for general festivities. I am not convinced the turkeys see it that way. October 14 and 28 2013 are marked as the worst of days for their species what with the mass genocide that is carried out in the name of human joy. Turkey aside, the history of the Canadian Thanksgiving is quite fascinating, tied up in the stories of Martin Frobisher, Samuel de Champlain and the development of a Confederation into a Nation. The date of Thanksgiving itself has been largely variable until it was decided in 1957 to settle on the second Monday in October. You can easily read up about it on Wikipedia if you wish.
Anyway, here in Thailand, this means the annual “Canadian-Thai Chamber of Commerce Ball at the Four Seasons Hotel”. The Diplomat and I attended last year. This time round we knew what to expect, knew many more people. Altogether a more relaxing affair for the trembling introvert. As last year the theme was “The Magic of Lanterns” – a chance for the hotel to reuse those floating sea-life balloons. We were greeted by an eclectic mixture of undulating fronds, fantastical trees (with a maple theme), bobbing sea creatures and two Thai ladies dressed as mermaids…this time I was not the only fish out of water.
Having been to Canada’s Finest Jazz Diplomat’s house for an aperitif (as excellent as always) both we and Les Quebecois joined a strangely lengthy queue to get in. I say strange because the only thing actually happening was people being ticked off the invitation list. Not as though there was a “shaking hands” policy. This time the guest list had ratcheted a notch with the presence of the Canadian Ambassador, the US Ambassador and the spouse of the British Ambassador in attendance. In the small T-shaped atrium outside the main hall we came across the Silent Auction. A place for several commercial enterprise to display their wares and have us bid for charitable consideration. Jewellery, flights, hotel stays, spas, clothes, carpets…squeezed into every spare inch of table. You can actually get a bargain…or pay more than the normal price – something indignantly picked up on last year by nameless diplomats. The whole point is that you pay what you think it is worth, not complain if you pay more than the RRP and demand a refund! ‘Nuff said.
The two mermaids I mention above were a new addition to the evening from the previous year, but, thankfully, the shot cart remained the same. On it was:
- Coffee Liqueur
- Jack Sparrow
- Jack Daniels
- Jose Ceurvo Gold
- Jim Beam
- Prairie Fire
- Southern Comfort
- Strawberry Cream Tequila
Somewhat oddly, the latter was very popular, all stocks exhausted by 21:30. I know this because I thought I might try it. There was consolation with the Prairie Fire – a Tequila + Tabasco kicker I got introduced to last year – and Molson Canadian Beer on tap. In a country that only really tends to sell Heineken, Singha, Leo, Chang and Tiger, having something pure Canadian was a refreshing delight.
The Diplomat and I sashayed around various people, doing a meet and greet, before finding ourselves at table 26, seated with Les Quebecois, a Thai, four Aussies and two more Canadians. A table of 11! It was at one of the furthest points of the hall, but geographic relegation to the rear comes with the prize of nearest to the kitchen so the food is fast and hot. The format of the evening remained as winning as ever: national anthems followed by a quick “hi” from the Ambassador. The latter was accompanied by the usual rudeness of people talking over his speech – why DO people do that? I mean, I get that for those who live on these “wine & dine” circuits it’s all a bit familiar having to listen to the speeches, but really…how would YOU feel if someone both ignored and talked over you when you’re trying to address a crowd?
…who knows what level he’s on? I mean, I see Facebook friends newsfeeds telling me they are on Level 155. Well, congrats…I think.
So, the food came out, hot as I mentioned and was rather tasty. We got a scallop with peanut sauce starter, a pumpkin soup, the usual turkey with trimmings (pureed mash potatoe – a nod to Mr Quayle there), a dry ice passion-fruit and ice cream concoction which impressed me, then the usual three tier cake dessert with mouth sized portions of sweet bean curd and cake slices. Add to that a few prairie fires, a coffee, some Molson and red wine and you’ve got all the key ingredients for a Canadian mass attempt at the Lawnmower on the dance floor.
It was a pleasantly indecorous evening, full of politeness, and the kind of genial good cheer that only Canada seems to pass off effortlessly. I guess it is the lack of pretension that is the key to success. A somewhat laissez-faire culture that I have come to both love and appreciate. We didn’t make it to “kicking out time”, but swept elegantly out of the hotel into the humidity of a Bangkok night before relieving the Nanny of Isla duties, the munchkin staying up till 9pm for a change.
Today is Canadian Thanksgiving – so to all you out there…HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Is this what diplomacy is all about?