Thursday 24 April 2014

Shedding A Skin

As I travel through Thailand and Laos, I am slowly shedding a skin.

The skin is called "I can't" and it has been wrapped around everybody from birth. So tightly that 99% of people do not realise that it is there.

Here are some common symptoms:

I can't talk to that girl.

I can't ask her out.

I can't fly to another country.

I can't have fun when I don't speak the language well.

I can't...I can't...I can't...

Yes, the temperature here the last two days has been brutal. And yes, it's difficult for me to function when the heat-index is around 49C degrees.

That said, I've done a bit of dancing with some women - both local dance and simple Ceroc steps. I've talked with some women, no matter that the degree of communication varies. I've had a few language lessons from some women too.

I've been approached by ladyboys (hahaha!) and had both grown women and young teenage girls say that they love me (the latter made me smile). While dancing with a group of women, one of them pointed out another and said in broken English: "Is she beautiful?" I said: "Yes, she is beautiful." Then made a shhhhh sound with my finger in front of my lips - the entire group of us broke into giggles like a bunch of little children.

The Thai people where I was like talking with others, especially the women. (Matchmaking!) It helped that I had a huge introduction, a friend is an English language teacher. Him and his wife and family and friends showed me around in style - which is to say, I did things like visit ruins and temples and ate fried crickets and boiled silkworms and attended two weddings: one Thai and one Mormon (how a Thai became a Mormon is an epic story in itself) and ate local food and danced.

Even when interacting with shop attendants, saying hello and thank you in Thai makes them smile. When they say "26 baht" and you say "gee-sip whoa baht, karap" their eyes light up. You've at least made minimal effort. Even broken Thai can make them giggle, which is hella fun by itself. Asking someone their name ("Khoun chiu arai karap") or nickname ("Khoun chiu-len arai karap") will make them break out in a wide smile. "Aroi mai ka" - "Aroi karap" or "Aroi maat karap" - "is it delicious?" "Yes delicious", or "very delicious".

Note that saying "Jim" in a rising tone is a filthy word. Just saying, so be careful, eh?

Slowly, with a bit of effort, a skin is being shed. A skin that I knew I had, consciously, since I swallowed the Red Pill. One that I found difficult to remove.

The process is fun.

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