Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Friday, April 19, 2013

Now who's Camilla ? My Thai Hi !

I did my little bit of research on Thailand before I boarded the Thai Economy flight on 7 April. Since it was a midnight flight, I hardly remember anything from the journey except for the cute and traditionally dressed Air-hostesses asking, "Vegettaariaan ?". Once I overcame the sleep deprivation, it was usual me; observe and find out about the place, the people and their practices. And here is what I felt about Thailand and the people.

The Thai people must be the most pleasant on the earth. They are almost always smiling, laughing or guffawing when they are not giggling. I believe this is a national trait with very few exceptions.
The Typical Thai People !
Thailand was previously known as Siam and they still treasure that name. It has over come a lot of mutinies, military rulers, corruption and several changes in the constitution. Yet the people generally remain happy. They have a definite discipline in day to day life that we Indians lack as a rule. Look at this Bangkok road where the busy road has an entire left lane free. I don't know how many Indian cities can boast of such a trait.
Free Left in the "Land of the Free"
Thailand ranks 54th out of 56 Asian nations when it comes to proficiency in English and this doesn't seem to bother them. You tell them about their poor English and they'll giggle and thank you with a "Kop kuun haa".

You walk into a 7-Eleven store and talk in English and the predominantly young crowd look at you and smile apologetically. Then they start to giggle and exchange words between themselves in their nasal twang. When you persist with English, they'll give you a pity-filled look for your ignorance of their beautiful language. And finally, they share a hearty laugh and their Thai customers join them in that. As a last resort, they'll resort to explaining to you in Thai language and you have no other option but to take whatever you want and leave without asking for anything more than what you can find there.

Thai mobile networks are very nice. They'll give the tourist a free SIM-card on arrival and then keep sending them messages in unadulterated Thai language.

The people here are so nice, they'll be smiling their broadest smiles even when they are busy swindling you !

Thai massage, foot massage, head massage and all those massages are a must when you are in this land. They are definitely calming and relaxing.

I am inclined to believe the name Thailand is actually a local variant of Thigh-land. In 9 days, I have seen more thighs than I have seen in 43 years of my life in India. 90% of Thai women are seen in shorts and short skirts and this is perfectly fine with this culture. To be honest, even ultra-short shorts can be too much in the heat out there.

"Sawatdee haa" is the Thai way of wishing "Namaste". It is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word "Swasti" meaning 'blessing'. Thai people believe in their culture and language having origins in India and Sanskrit and are proud of it.

One of the ladies at the Thai massage center thought my daughter was my wife. She was obviously gossiping about the mismatch in our age. But later as an after-thought, she and asked me, "Wife ? Girlfriend ?". I replied, "Daughter". She apologized, "Oooooooooh dothaal. Sollyyyyyyyyyy. Oooooooooooooooh" !

I was there as guardian for my daughter who was shooting for her Tamil movie. We were helped there in the entire process by Indo-Bangkok films, a company owned by an Indian Punjabi called Bob. They own travel-agencies, chain of Indian hotels, restaurants and they also provide logistics and man-power for visiting Indian cine-units.
Indian Restaurant in Pattaya
Population of Thailand is 94% Buddhist with less than 5% Muslims and 1% Christians. There are very few Hindus and Sikhs. Our Indo-Bangkok Films is owned by a Sikh Bob Singh. There is another Sikh we met in Bangkok. That was Jyot, who speaks excellent Telugu due to his growing up in Vizag. He helped me to gain some kind of insight into this country. But the paradox about this country is that this predominantly Buddhist country has an omnivorous population. They eat everything under the Sun and under the sea and believe seaweeds are good for the skin !

One of our local managers was Lucky. We never got to know her original name. She was jovial, grumpy, angry and helping all in one. She was once married to a Pakistani. After the marriage ended, she developed a special liking for Indians, it seems. Her incessant smoking reminded me of the brick kilns I used to watch on the Mangalore - Udupi highway during my childhood.

Our second Thai contact was in fact the best. She was Rumrada, nicknamed Red. She is a happily plump 28 year old girl always sporting a smile and a pair of shorts with tees. She was the most proficient in English and that is why I managed to gather quite a lot of information from her. She is a Muslim. She hates marriage but loves an Indian Assistant Film Director. Her parents have given her complete freedom to manage her life and she doesn't smoke or drink. But she was totally amazed and horrified when she heard that normal Muslim girls in this part of the world can't wear shorts and can't be walking so freely like she did.

Red hates the idea of anyone dictating terms to her. This is a Thai trait. This is the most liberal of all South Asian nations. In fact they also pride themselves as "Tai" or the "Land of the Free" because Thailand was the only south Asian country never to have been colonized by a European power. Thailand also is the most liberal when it comes to LGTB rights and we can see a large number of them living with very little or no discrimination. Two of the make-up artists on our unit were from this group and they were completely natural and comfortable and were treated with no difference. Also, they smoke like anyone else.
Everyone smokes, no discrimination !
Thai people smoke in alarmingly high proportions. I could see men, women and LGTB smoking almost all the time. But I think their happy nature gives them some kind of protection against heart diseases because they have far lesser incidence of Ischemic Heart Disease compared to Indians. May be it is largely due to genetics but I do think the intrinsic happiness does play a role.

Coming to the last part of my story, I heard lucky yell at someone, "Ajay wants to see Camilla". I was surprised about this new character on the unit and was eager to see her too. So I asked her, "Now who's Camilla ?". Lucky gave me a dirty look and pointed towards the camera !
English - Thainglish !
Thai people hate the 'R' and happily leplace it with an additional "L" whenevel and whelevel possible. They have Thulsday, Flyday and Satulday to end the week. They offel you Zelo Calolies Coke and Biliyani. They smoke as if thele is no tomollooooooooo. Even Red [Led], who's pretty good with English talks like this to hel own people, "They leave tomollooo. We have to get the passpolts and allange fol duty-flee shopping in the ailpolt" !

Dr. Punned-it