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13 กันยายน 2550
 
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Lost in Translation...

One of the people I live with just came over and said hi.
They saw my red face. If they knew I'd been crying they didn't let on.
'ไม่ต้องคิดมาาาาก ภาษาอังกฤษแปลว่าอะไร' they asked.
I told them my answer. 'Don't worry','don't get stressed about it.'
Thanks they said. 'เก่งมาก' (very good...)
'When you're free, any chance that you can help me with my English?'
'Sure' I said
'Another day, any day is OK' she said
'Sure' I said.

She walked off, sat on a chair on the other side of the lobby and started telling her friend that I didn't seem happy. 'ฝรั่งไม่สบายใจ' she said. I wasn't meaning to eavesdrop but, its hard to ignore any conversation that starts with a big loud 'Fa-Rang...' 'I wonder why' she continued.

This has happened before. I don't normally make a habit of sitting in the lobby bawling my eyes out but today's been a strange day. I'm not exactly begging for attention. In fact, if anyone was brave (or stupid) enough to ask me why I looked and sounded so upset, I'd find it difficult to explain (in English as well as in Thai) exactly why I feel so crappy.

But..., I guess I really need to talk to someone about something... Otherwise I wouldn't have spent the day trying to call or MSN the few friends I have here, who I reckon would be able to help, or understand my strange mood.

One thing that's odd about living here is that most people prefer to talk about you rather than to you. It makes it hard to find people that you can trust and feel really close to. Where I live there are lots of people who like to talk to the farang. She might be able to help them with their English project. She can be a novelty cum freakshow cum teacher at will. When she's in the right mood she can be fun. Whenever she's what other people want or expect her to be, 'friends' are easy to find.

But the minute she's herself... The minute she's worried about work, about her life here and about what the future holds, the minute she feels a bit down and lonely it's a different story. Sure, people still love to talk. But, they normally like to talk about their textbook, their friends, the movies they've seen, the problems they have with their bf/gf or gik, the kind of things that will help them improve their English.

The minute the farang looks upset, and isn't the smiling person they usually ask for help when they can't understand the questions in their textbook... the minute she needs to talk... like really needs to talk, the same way that she would talk to friend back in England... The minute they need to be the person doing the listening, the minute they need to try and comprehend how hard it can be to be to try and make a life out here, no one is interested.

Friends disappear. Friendships are exposed as superfical contacts. All smiles and no substance. You're a friend whilst you have a use, a purpose to them. At home friendship's a 2 way thing - you give and take. Here, the minute that it's your turn to do the asking, the minute you need a favour in return, and its their turn to be there for you, there are smiles, 'sorry I'm busy' 's and a string of other excuses...

There's also another set of people. Those who like to 'take care' of you. They're nice, smiley, friendly and extremely polite. They will help you with anything and everything you ask them to. But, again its a very superfical thing. You mistake them for friends. You ask them to go out with you, eat dinner, go to the movies, the same kind of stuff you would do with your friends back home. It's a no everytime. It's almost as if there's an invisble dividing line between 'helping' the foreigner and having their own life, with their own set of friends. No way are they going to cross it.

I have some good friends here, really good friends. But there's not that many. I often feel awkward hassling them about personal problems. I'm 33. I'm not a baby. I should be able to deal with them myself. In Thai culture, when people have problems they smile. To western eyes, they rarely show how they feel inside. It's not good to look (and even worse to be) moody or down, or to show that you're upset or angry.

My friend's grandma died 2 weeks ago. He came back from the funeral on Monday. I met up with him on Tuesday night. He was sad he said, but he smiled. He smiled all night. The first time I saw people do this (2 years ago when my roommate and a work colleague died within a week of each other) it horrified me. It seemed shocking to laugh and joke about something so sad. Now, I know that it's normal here. I can understand why people do it.

It makes it hard for me to live here though. I'm not good at hiding my feelings. I'm open, opinionated, and tend to say what I think. I can't (despite friends here joking that I can do a pretty good one nowadays) do a Thai smile, however much (at times) I may want to. If I feel down, it shows. I have days when I feel really down, confused and lonely... When I feel like this, I can't help but look like it...

It's just that, whenever I do, I get talked about or, even worse totally ignored. No one asks me how I'm feeling, or why I look so sad. The reactions of others normally make me feel more alone and confused than ever...


Create Date : 13 กันยายน 2550
Last Update : 13 กันยายน 2550 21:41:30 น. 0 comments
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kerrie
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กรุงเทพ Thailand

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