Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Tuff Old Women of Huay Pakoot

In the western world, elderly women can often be found at home knitting or baking cookies for their grandchildren - but in Huay Pakoot, you’ll find them heartily swinging their axes to chop firewood or spontaneously spitting betelnut through the cracks in the floor. In the village, 2 women who particularly stand out with their red-stained toothy grins and bright beaded necklaces are the chiefs wife; Mah Luang, and homestay host Amporn’s mother; Badass Grandma. - otherwise known as the bitchin’ old ladies of Huay Pakoot.

Mah Luang (which directly translates from Thai to Big Momma) mother of five children in their twenties and thirties. Just the other day in the blistering 30 degree dry heat she set out dressed in head to toe traditional karen clothing to tackle a gigantic pile of unchopped firewood. Despite minor comments of a sore back, she persisted hacking away at the stack with the force of a pile driver, laughing at comments of how strong she was. Sure enough, the next day all of the wood was completely split and used to fuel the family’s wood stove. 

Amporn’s mom (otherwise known as Badass grandma) A tough nut to crack, questioning of strangers to the village and always busying herself with work of some kind. Once you gain her approval her eyes shine with acceptance every time she sees you and you soon get used to her wicked sense of humour. Tina Thornburry comments, ‘The final turning point was when I stumbled out of my hut to the bathroom early one morning. Almost at the bathroom I heard someone shout “De blu!” in the same loud enthusiasm I usually greet people. I looked up to the kitchen/porch of my homestay and there Badass Grandma sat smiling, keenly waving her hand, the same woman known to squat down and take a pee in the middle of the road at high noon!’
In addition to the toughness that the elderly women of Huay Pakoot demonstrate on a daily basis, they can also be found exhibiting the same kindness that our own grandmothers are known for, they really can do it all.  So the next time you see your grandma just baking cookies or squeezing someone’s cheeks, ask her why the hell she isn’t out chopping down trees.  Where’s the firewood, Nana?