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29 พฤศจิกายน 2550
 
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Cheaper than a shrink... maybe...

Read the title. Read it again... and again... and once more for luck...
There... you have been warned...

The waiting game...

Today I had zillions of errands to run. Nothing too usual or difficult or time consuming, just...
- photocopying 'school' stuff
- photocopying (and finding some) info about travelling to Phu Chi Far
- collecting my laundry
- collecting my sewing
- getting my backpack mended

The only important thing was to be around Sukumvit for 5pm, ready to prepare for, and teach my English class at 6. It was my last ever class. I wanted to try and talk to my students beforehand. I wasn't planning on being late.

So what did I get done.... I kind of taught my English class and, I almost managed to get the stuff photocopied for school but... that was about it. So what did I really do ? I waited around for people to do their jobs, a kind of normal thing here, but, to a westerner, used to good service, or used to being able to moan and complain their little head off whenever people haven't done what you've expected them to, it's frustrating... very very very very frustrating....

So what went wrong ?

1. the laundry
Whenever the laundry woman hasn't managed to wash my jeans in time, she tells me that its been raining. Normally I smile. Here, you have to. To say 'Really - are you sure ? I've been in BKK all day and there hasn't been a single raindrop in sight' would be, in Thai terms a bit rude. To ask 'why?' or say ' you liar.. they've been sat on the floor for days... and you still haven't managed to get your arse into gear and wash them' even worse. Normally you're expected to smile and say something along the lines of, 'Oh.. OK.. Never mind... Tomorrows OK.'

I've spent the last week or so bumming around Bangkok, and a lot of time sitting in the lobby in my building, using my laptop and the net. I've seen the laundy woman almost every day. So, I guess she already knew that the usual 'it was raining today' option wasn't going to work.

'Ooooohhhh' she said as soon as she saw me. 'I leum (forgot.)' 'Tomorrow OK na?'

If there's one word that I really, really, really hate in Thai its 'Na.' It's used for a lot of things, sometimes to sound cute and friendly but, normally to force the person who is listening to agree with what you're saying. To contradict someone who sticks a sweet sounding 'na' on the end of a sentence can make you sound really rude. So, 'NO!!!, it's not OK. I was kind of planning to go to the beach tomorrow, but, without a swimming cozzie and a towel, the trip's f**ked...' would be a definite no no. Sometimes, for an English person... supressing the urge to get angry, shout, sarcasticly question her competence at doing her own (very menial) job and complain and moan endlessly.... To force a smile and say 'Sure. Tomorrow morning's OK' instead can be really, really hard.

2. The photocopying
There's a photocopying shop across the road from where I live. It's normally pretty good and, at 3 pages for 1baht is really cheap too. I had a lot of stuff I needed to copy. Stuff for school (I say for school, as I plan to leave copies of all my teaching materials / guides etc. at my friend's mum's school when I go to Naan) and a couple of magazine articles about Phu Chi Far, and the mountains around Naan and Chiang Rai, some of the places I'm hoping to go to in the coming weeks.

I arrived at the copy shop around 11am. The job hadn't been done. 'Come back tomorrow' they said, for the books. They agreed to copy the magazine articles right away. 'Sit down and wait' I was told.
So I did....

I watched and waited whilst a woman came in with a 250 sheet copy job. I watched and waited some more whilst one girl stopped what she was doing to finish an earlier order. I watched, and then waited even longer whilst another woman came in with a document over 100 pages thick. All these jobs, seemingly more important than mine. An hour or so later, I got the 30 pages I needed. An hour!!! I spent a whole hour in the copy shop waiting for the girls who worked there to do my 10 minute job.

You're probably thinking 'Its your own fault... Surely you should have said something, or asked them how long it would take, and when they would finish your job.' I did. Several times !!! Each time I recieved a 'ror baeb neung' in reply, Thai for, 'hold on.... just a moment.'

A moment in English is a few minutes. A moment in Thai can be anything from a few seconds to a few hours. And, all you can do, whilst you're counting exactly how long the 'moment's' been so far, is to sit back, wait and smile.

3. Mending my backpack
My big backpack's been broken for months. 2 of the plastic fasteners are cracked, and need replacing. Another 2 have disappeared. Add 2 small holes (1 right in the bottom corner and another one, near the straps at the top) to the list and you are probably wondering why on earth I wanted to get it fixed. I know that I should chuck it and get a new one but, this is the backpack thats followed me around most of the country. It's been a loyal friend. Sure, it's on it's last legs, but they're not giving up yet.

I asked a guy from my old work where I could get it mended. Banglampoo he said. So, me and my backpack took the boat across the river earlier this afternoon. I found the 'backpack and bag mending' woman's sewing stall, explained what was wrong and asked the lady hunched over the little sewing machine how long it would take to fix it. '1 hour', she said. 'OK. I'll be back then,' I replied.

1 hour was perfect, just enough time to get food, wander around the second hand book stalls that line Soi Rambutri and the back gate of Wat Chana Songkram, and take a look at the international freakshow that is Khao San.

I went back an hour later, as planned. I could see that the woman hadn't even started on it. I visited a friend who lives nearby and an hour or so later, called again. 'deeyow deeyow, ror Baaaaaeeeeeb neung' she said, as soon as she saw me walking over. One moment again. Only this time, I couldn't wait. I had to be on the other side of the city, in Sukhumvit at 5pm and it was already gone 4. 'Sorry I can't wait' I told her. 'What time do you start work tomorrow?
'Ror baaaaeeeeb neung' she said again.

I soooo wanted to ask him how long the baeb neung would be. If it was anything like the way she spoke it, a long drawn out 'aaaeeeebb' sound, it would be ages.
'Don't worry' I said. 'I'll come back tomorrow.'

By this time, I had no way of getting home, and to my class on time. The alternative, lugging a huge, and totally empty 70 litre backpack to my English class with me, wasn't too appealing either.

In the end I dumped the bag in my friend's office for the night. But.... Yet another 'simple' job still needing to be done...

4. Picking up my sewing

Sometime inbetween getting back from the copy shop and taking my backpack over to Banglampoo, I went to the seamstress on my street and tried to collect my sewing. The woman had gone for lunch. 'she'll be here in a moment' her friend said. I didn't want to wait a moment. I had a backpack to mend, and figured I'd already waited more than enough moments for one day. 'Don't worry. I'll come back tomorrow' I said.

Now, there's no way I'll be travelling anywhere tomorrow. I'll still be stuck here, in 3J, trying to organise all the stuff that should have been done today.

5. And... Even More Waiting

I went to see my friend T today. I was supposed to go over to her house last night. She called me, to say that she wasn't feeling well, and that it would be cool if I popped by to say hi, but, by the time I got home and called her back, she'd already switched off her phone.
"I thought you were coming over yesterday" she told me.
"I was going to" I said. "But I thought you were asleep. You'ld switched your phone off."

I had a hour to wait for my backpack, so she stuck the TV on and we sprawled out across her bed, giggling and talking about what we'd both been up to. It didn't take long before we moved onto a familiar subject. Thai men...

One thing I worked out a long time ago is that, Thai men, in general are a total and utter waste of space... Sure, they normally make good friends. They usually make even better drinking partners, happily refilling your glass for you and not seeming to care about the fact that for every glass of iced-filled lager they're sipping, you're casually downing 2. There's no such things as 'rounds of drinks' here, so they even pay for your beer too. But, dating... No Way!!!

In Thailand, there's a kind of odd space somewhere inbetween "friend", "close friend" and "wanna be date." Normally, just entering this area is enough to totally screw things up between the 2 of you. Sometimes, you don't even have to be anything more than friends. One day the guy's behaviour suddenly becomes totally wierd. They call you up at odd times in the middle of the night, ask you where you are, and don't believe you when you say that you were in bed, fast asleep and that you really don't want to tell them how you are, what you had to eat and whether you've had a shower or not because you actually need to be able to wake up for school in the morning; they have a huge problem with you even mentioning the names of other male friends, or, even wierder, they just disappear without trace for weeks at a time (sometimes even longer) leaving you wondering what on earth you have done to deserve any of this kind of treatment.

T my friend doesn't agree with my moans. To her, Thai men aren't useless, they're just "different (whatever that means) and don't really know how to deal with their emotions. Thai girls might be happy to date emotional retards but me ??? I think I'll pass.

She asked me about my friend A. Just before I went back to England things went really wierd between us. One minute I thought we were friends but, friends , good friends don't vanish for weeks at a time, then suddently reappear without saying anything. A week or so, I would have grinned and told her that everythings OK now, we're friends again but now, who knows ??? I have no idea. ??? How can you claim to be friends with someone who doesn't appear to want to acknowledge your existence.

T asked me what I'd done to make him disappear, almost as if she was blaming me for his sudden change in behaviour. Me ? I hadn't done anything. Sure I'd e-mailed, and called him a few times. I was in the middle of planning my trip up north and struggling to get the info that I needed. Each time I called, there was no reply. I e-mailed too. Same, same...

'He has feelings for you' she told me. 'If he didn't have any feelings for you, he would be able to be your friend. He wouldn't be like this...' I was too stunned, by the sheer stupidity of her statement, to be able to think of anything to counter it. Her arguement, to a westerner reflects a totally f**ked up way of thinking. If the guy has any feelings for me at all, they're probably ones of total and utter pissed-off-ed-ness at me trying to contact him and ask him trivial questions. By now, it's likely to have festered and grown, and is probably approaching serious dislike, maybe even hatred.

But T's Thai. She doesn't see this. Thai women have a strange way of thinking. "What did you ask him?" She asked.
"Nothing much. Just info about travelling to Phu Chi Far and how on earth he managed to get someone to let him take his mountain bike on the bus last year."
"Why did you ask him ?" she asked.
"Because he's the only person I know that's been there, and took his bike on a bus before"
"You shouldn't have asked him" she told me. "You need to give him time to deal with his feelings..."
So who was I supposed to ask ? I thought. Friends where I live, most of whom like me helping them with English but are usually too busy, just about to leave for uni or to eat, or pull strange looking faces whenever I ask if they can read/translate Thai for me.
And what feelings ??? Does a guy really need to 'deal with his feelings' before he's able to tell you where to find a bus timetable, or a list of suitable guesthouses on the internet ???
"But, I needed to get this sorted. I have to get things organised for next week."
"That's really bad, Kerrie. You shouldn't ask him. If you were a good friend you'ld wait. He cannot talk to you because you can not wait..."

By now, T sounded like she was spewing out the plot of some turgid but cheesy Thai soap opera, word for word. She would have sounded OK, if there was some deep romantic undercurrent to the friendship, but there isn't... The guy's not my type. I'm not desperately hoping to get into his knickers, or that, one day he'll realise that, underneath I'm really such a great girl, and want to go out with me after all. OK, he's a nice looking guy, but, I guess because I've always thought of him as a friend, I don't fancy him... At all !!! I was a bit stunned that friends from home, thought of him as being really good looking, as, in the 2 and a bit years that I've known him, the thought's never really occured to me.

And... as far as hoping goes, there's only one thing I'm hoping that this guy will do... Send me the info. I asked him for over a week ago. But I already know... that ain't gonna happen...

The odd thing about the whole thing is that my friend T seems to blame me for this guys own emotional-fuck-ed-upp-ed-ness. Like it's my fault, something I've done wrong... It's not, I already know that !!! If Thai guys can't honestly tell you what they think, thats their problem, not mine... but, listening to her go on and on about it, and complaining about how impatient I am, made me start to wonder whether it could be .... ????? and whether its me that has the screwey way of thinking... not her...

If you've got this far.. wow I'm impressed... I haven't sent you to sleep yet... Only one more thing to add...

Cheaper than a shrink ??? DEFINITELY!!!


Create Date : 29 พฤศจิกายน 2550
Last Update : 30 พฤศจิกายน 2550 13:44:43 น. 0 comments
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