When you don’t understand them….. & they don’t understand you

 In All

How do you tell the dentist that one of your molars hurts?
How do you say you would rather order 1 kilogram of chicken than 2?
How do you ask where the bathroom is?
These are all relatively simple questions in our home country, as we don’t even have to think about how or whether to ask them or not.
As we have been in Thailand now for a while and our language studies are slowly progressing, we have been finding out that we hit the limits of our abilities quite often.
It is great when we are able to order something at the market and chat a bit with the people selling the goods until…. one of our children shouts out loud he really needs a toilet, now… and we haven’t come across that in our language study. Even when tasting the victorious feeling if we perfectly pronounced a question in the market, our inability hits back in seconds when the answer we get is quick and we didn’t understand a word… But..!
These moments when a chat works out well like recently:
Me: Three chicken legs, please.
Saleswoman: Ok, would you like more than 3? (meanwhile smiling and taking a close look at me).
Me: No thank you, I’d like three, please.
Saleswoman: Are you a teacher? (I probably look like one…)
Me: I will be working for a Christian church but am actually learning to speak Thai at the moment.
Saleswoman: making a wai (with a deeper bow than what I am used too) and gives me my chicken. I really have no idea how to react and question myself what would be an appropriate reaction.
After I have paid for the chicken, I walk away, somewhat confused and surprised. Thankful for language and culture learning.
Thai culture is so different than the ‘culture of equality’ in my home country.


Ab & Clarine Mol

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