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Gossip - Thai Style

In England people like to believe that they're straight talking, open and honest. Sure, people gossip - I think people gossip the world over - but gossipping is normally seen as being a bad thing.

When people want to talk about someone else, they make sure it's done quietly and discreetly. Gossip's like a dirty secret. People enjoy listening to, and spreading it, but no one wants to admit it.

Here (I mean the place where I live - not in Thailand generally) its exactly the opposite. I sit in the lobby a lot. I like to check my mail, read the Bangkok Post and try to listen to Thai TV. Unfortunately so do the cleaners. Whenever one of them has finished a job, they normally like to come downstairs and tell the others what they've just done and how dirty the rooms (and the students who live in them) are.

The cleaners and the guys who sell the coffee here thrive on gossip. It's what makes their day. I listen to it a lot. It's not something that I ever plan to do (honest... I really don't want to listen to it!) It's just that when people gossip here, theres no discretion, and no hushed tones. The story is shouted out as loudly and quickly as possible. You could give the cleaning lady a loudspeaker and the volume at which she tells her story wouldn't increase much. There's no choice but to listen as its impossible to ignore. The only people able to pretend that there's nothing much going on are either very Thai (as they can smile, Thai style and tell you not to think too much) or totally deaf.

Just to top it off, when these people gossip, they normally do it right in front of the person they are complaining about. They talk, usually in Issan Thai, about a foreigner stood only a few meters away, and then, once they've finished telling the story, normally laugh about how stupid and confused (in Thai - งง) the poor farang is.

When I first moved in here it used to really upset me. The same people who would happily smile at me whenever I walked into the building and make smalltalk, ask me how I was, whether I had a good day, whether my food tasted good (basic everyday conversations that forced me to try and practise my Thai) would then start telling their friends about how I was 'fat','rich and stingy','drunk' (even at 5 o clock in the afternoon, when I hadn't a beer for days) and always forgot my keycard. Nowadays, I've heard the same comments so often that I don't really care anymore.

Around 20 new foreigners have just moved into the building, so the cleaners are in gossip heaven. Lots of new faces to complain about. Maybe it was the excitement of seeing so many new victims, that made the woman wait until the lobby was busier than usual, and shout a bit louder than normal.

There's a referendum tomorrow. The future of the country, and its political system is at stake. But more importantly, hot off the press, the whole place now knows the following breaking news:-

One girl didn't take out her socks and knickers when she did her laundry...


Create Date : 18 สิงหาคม 2550
Last Update : 18 สิงหาคม 2550 23:23:09 น. 0 comments
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kerrie
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กรุงเทพ Thailand

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