Rice is humble in size, but rich in history and powerful when clustered. It is the staple diet in many parts of the world and in Thailand, it is the essence of life.
Rice cultivation is an imperative part of Thai culture.
It is in their folk songs, their paintings and most definitely in their hearts and souls. Thailand kicks off the rice planting season around May each year with an auspicious ancient ritual presided by the Royal Family.
Living in the wonderful era of technology comes with a price of distractions.
The importance of focusing on a single task outweighs the ability to multi-task.
On my recent trip to Chiang Mai, the Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa offers rice planting as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and team-building activity. Within my group, it was not rocket science to be able to tell who were born in cities from those raised on a farm. The latter lot seemed more excited possibly due to fond memories.
I am a city dweller with a love-hate relationship with my iPhone. I was excited about the rice-planting exercise as my iPhone and I spent way too much quality time together hand in hand, literally.
The resort provided specially-designed outfits for this activity so we looked the part. Gum boots were offered to those who were not keen to stick their feet in mud. For the authentic experience, my buddies and I went bare foot.
Like most activities in Thailand, the trainers were patiently demonstrating the trick of the trade: planting the rice in straight rows, moving slowly backwards and understanding how deep the roots needed to be in the mud. After the initial laughter (more like masking our embarrassment of clumsiness) and selfie moments in the field, the group was focused and silent.
Focused as I was, I could feel which toes were working harder to keep me balanced, and the strain on the back muscle if I was not standing right.