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The Buddha is no retail agent

Jun 29. 2012
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By The Nation
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Socialite Acharavadee Wongsakon is taking to the streets in protest today, but not to demand a greater share of the wealth for rich people.


As founder and president of the Knowing Buddha Organisation, she’s leading a pair of “Dharma Gratitude” marches at Chatuchak Market and later on Khao San Road.
The problem is that the Buddha’s name is too often taken in vain these days. Buddha Bar, Buddha Spa, Buddha slippers, lollipops and underwear and that stupid dog in the Disney movie a few years back. 
“Buddhists love peace and tranquillity,” Acharavadee says, “but that doesn’t mean remaining quiet when you have to speak out about what’s right. We’ve been too quiet about this and the world is forgetting who the Buddha is. The Buddha is not meant for tattoos, furniture or corporate logos.” 
Call Somchai “Kai” Kaewthong a pleased man. A clothing designer for 44 years, he’s enjoyed ample success, he tells Hello magazine. Ah, but there’s more to come. He’s not quitting yet. 
“I don’t think I could sell my Kai brand even if I wanted to. Any investor would look elsewhere if they wanted a quick return. And the upcoming designers prefer having their own brands.”
Kai emphasises that he owes his success to another, his life partner Pisith “Noi” Natewiset, who has his own Pisith line of clothing. “Without him my life wouldn’t be manageable,” Kai says. “He’s the complement to my life – a brother, adviser and caretaker when I’m sick or run into trouble.” 
Yet Pisith thinks it’s he who is in debt to Kai, for both his knowledge of the business and his brand. They’ve rowed at times, says Pisith, but they share a love for the peaceful life. “We don’t like going out at night. We enjoy staying home or dining out at our favourite places or taking a drive to the provinces.” 
“We’ve been together for 40 years,” says Kai, just as long as he’s had the boutique. Sounds like everything works perfectly.

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