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Sunday, 31 July 2011

A little bit of Thailand in West London

Walking home from my yoga class taught by Shanti this morning, I was distracted by the sound of Thai music and the sight of different nationalities queueing up in an orderly fashion to buy tickets for the Thai festival on Ealing Common. Huge security guards in shades and dark blue T - shirts contrasted with the diminutive orientals by the entrance to this event, now in its second year, organized by Nikie Chumai.

Mr Chumai is a restaurant owner who spends nine months of the year in Thailand, three in the UK, and aims to develop closer cultural ties between the two countries; one of his plans is to organize a British event in Thailand with the help of the British embassy in Bangkok.

The festival covered two days, and was opened by a member of the Thai royal family accompanied by the Thai ambassador to the UK.

Large carved statues of Buddha reclining or sitting smiling benignly inside the barriers appeared alongside intricately carved vegetables and pastel colored soap bars. There was delicious food and drink served by Thai restaurant owners who were making sure that everyone paid -cash, and no freebies.

At a small stage, exquisite dancers and musicians performed for an interested public relaxing on the grass in the sunshine. The festival can be compared with the mega Asian melas running up and down the UK over the Summer- this one is much more sedate, with between 3-6,000 visitors each day.

The Thai population in the UK is estimated at 30,000.

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