January 21, 2010

Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

Last week our ladies study group went out to celebrate two birthdays (Erin and Marianne, the two gorgeous brunettes on the far right). Here is a picture of the five of us, Lindsay on the far left, me next to her, Alisa in the middle, and the birthday girls, on the couch at Mazagran cafe, one of the western-style food joints in the area. Our group was minus Anita who is in America for the holidays and Liz who is in Thailand having her second daughter.

After chit-chatting at the cafe like sophisticated women, we decided to take a much more unsophisticated route. To the karaoke parlors we went! Karaoke is wildly popular in this country. There are many factors that contribute. This is a performing culture, for one thing. When you meet new friends here, it is not uncommon, within the first hour of aquaintance, to be called upon to sing. Your audience will listen seriously to you, and then take turns belting out their own tunes. Its fascinating. Another contributing factor is the overpopulation problem. There are just too many people for the amount of space and resources. Teenagers are crammed into tiny apartments with their parents and grandparents, college students are literally stacked up like sardines in tiny dorm rooms, and there is no where for young people to hang out and be loud...except the karaoke parlors. Corridors and corridors of private rooms, decked out with glitz and twinkles, lined with pleather sectionals and frosted windows. A tambourine and a pink ash tray complete the commodities. And these kids take it VERY seriously. While we croaked out our best "Crazy For You," fumbling all over each other with laughter, the rooms next to us were filled with the sounds of effort and focus. At one point I had to use the bathroom, and there were teenagers literally soaking their heads in the sink to rinse away the sweat from hours of singing. Granted, we had the disadvantage of sobriety on our side, which makes it a little more difficult to be completely humiliating. Though I'm convinced that even if the kids hadn't reeked of cheap liquor, we could not have held a candle to them.


And perhaps my favorite part of the night? Hearing our always, and I mean ALWAYS quiet birthday girl, Erin, bust out "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," word for word. You just never know your friends until you take them to a karaoke parlor.