Adventures in Anthems

It happened again tonight.

Imagine yourself in this scene: You’re in a department store, browsing through the aisle dedicated to cleaning supplies. You’re examining a particularly functional bucket when suddenly, the muzak changes to something with a little more pomp, and is no longer providing background noise to the steady hum of shoppers… because the steady hum of shoppers has ceased. You stop humming the Milli Vanilli song that was in your head and look up from your bucket as you realize that except for the ceremonious strains of music coming through the speakers, all movement around you has stopped. The other shoppers in your aisle who were, just a moment ago, chatting as they examined mops and sponges, are now silent and standing stalk still. Just as you’re taking all this in, and wondering if perhaps Voldemort has cast a Petrificus Totalus spell on the entire store, the song ends, everyone bows a little and resumes their chatting/shopping as though nothing happened.

In Chiang Mai, department stores and markets play the national anthem every night at 6p.m. Everyone stops what they’re doing and stands respectfully as the anthem is played. (If you’re on the escalator, you can step off and move a little bit out of the way so you don’t cause a pile up.) It still catches me by surprise, but I think it’s interesting, and makes me thing of flash mobs. I also try to picture the same scene taking place at Tim Horton’s to the strains of O Canada.

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