Philosophy is really homesickness; it is the urge to be at home everywhere. — Novalis
What does “home” mean, anyway?
The concept seems especially complicated to me these days, as an American studying here in New York City after living in Bangkok for six years.
Thailand, as you might imagine, is often on my mind.
And I occasionally encounter unexpected reminders of the country and its people here in New York — and not just in the form of the city’s many Thai restaurants.
There was the mysterious New York City fire hydrant marked “Thailand” that I mentioned back in October. (The conundrum remains unsolved, though I suspect I’ll uncover an explanation eventually.)*
There’s Absolute Bagels, a popular shop near Columbia University that is, improbably, run by Thais. (I sometimes stop by to chat with the staff. I’m sure they think I’m a lunatic.)
There was the large table of Thai patrons Anasuya and I bumped into downtown at the famous Katz’s Delicatessen one Saturday last November.
And — getting to the point of this post — just a few weeks ago, I registered my latest unexpected brush with Thailand, though it was fictional and not NYC-specific.
Take a look at the embedded video above, which is also on YouTube here.
The show, of course, is about a high school chemistry teacher (not Gale) in Albuquerque who becomes a crystal meth cook.”**
Visually, the series is pure Southwest U.S., with scene after scene of arid desert landscapes. I’m currently working my way through the show’s fourth season.
And the karaoke subtitles are in…Thai.
Just a few snippets of Gale’s wonderfully weird performance appeared in the episode, but entire performance is above.
In the scene, Gale is sporting a tan travel vest, a neckerchief, and a fanny pack. Is the video from a trip he took to Thailand? We don’t know. (At least not yet.)
What did “home” mean for Gale? Was he a New Mexico native? Or did he move to New Mexico from elsewhere? When did he travel to Thailand, and what did he make of the place?
The song Gale sings, as it happens, is about an astronaut who becomes marooned in space.
The closing lines are:
Earth below us
Earth below us
Keep on singing, Gale.
In case you’re curious, embedded above and on YouTube here is Schilling’s English-language video.
It is entertaining in its own way, as is the original German version. But I think I prefer Boetticher’s rendition.
*If you have any thoughts on the fire hydrant, please let me know.
**Thanks, Nick, for the recommendation.
(Image: Photo of Bangkok by Prachanart on Flickr.)