So, remember that time when I was frustrated, and I blogged about all of that? Well, tonight was one of the opposite times. I had to get some groceries, so I hailed a taxi and told him to go to Paradise Park (the mall that has a really nice Villa Market grocery store with all kinds of American food - wooohooo!)
Well, the taxi driver either didn't know where Paradise Park is or didn't understand my American accent. Either way, I had to try to direct him with the little Thai I have learned. A conversation ensued, and I was so proud that I spoke all in Thai (well, with some awkward pauses). Below is a translated transcript of our conversation.
Keep in mind that it might sound like both of us are idiots. This is for two reasons:
1. My Thai is so elementary that I'm sure I sound like a complete imbecile.
2. He had to dumb down his Thai so much that it sounds like he is speaking to a 1st grader.
Me: Paradise Park? near Seacon, on Srinakarin.
Him: ok ok. Bad traffic over there.
Me: only a little.
Him: You speak Thai?
Me: a little (same words as last question - giggle)
Him: Where are you from?
Me: I am from America - Chicago.
Him: Oh, Chicago! Al Capone - bang bang bang (Yeah, that was in English.)
Me: Yes, Chicago. (Oh man, this guy is crazy.) The center of America.
Him: Are you going to eat food?
Him: There is Thai food and 'farang' (white people) food there.
Me: Yes, but farang food is expensive.
Him: You like Thai food?
Me: Yes, pad see ew, ba mee moo deng, som tam
Him: Som tam! Spicy food!
Me: I like spicy food - but only a little.
Him: I like som tam from Isan.
Me: Are you from Isan?
Him: Yes. Are you meeting your boyfriend for food?
Me: (giggle giggle) No, but I'm meeting two friends.
(Side Note: I was not meeting two friends I was going by myself. I lied for two reasons: 1) I was really excited that I knew the classifier for people and wanted to use a number. 2) I didn't want to appear like a loser with no friends.)
He turns on an English radio station. I make a comment about it being in English and thank him.
We arrive at our destination! I think he tells me to have a good night or something of the sort, but I can't understand. :)
This conversation is not a big deal in and of itself. But at the same time, it is for me. It's the first time I've attempted a full-on Thai conversation without friends in the car to help me remember vocab. Usually taxi rides are complete and utter silence after I tell them where I want to go.
As I get more comfortable with the language, I find myself getting more comfortable with the people and the culture. Communication really is key to any relationship, and I'm currently in a relationship with Thailand! I have to get to know it, and without being able to communicate with its people, I get frustrated and confused.
So, tonight I was excited, thrilled even, to have a conversation with a middle-aged Thai man who associated my hometown with a gangster. :) Love it.