Being a Thai
A number of people within my circle of friends & family often tell me "you are not very Thai." But, how can I not be Thai when I have Thai blood and bones in my body? For me, this is like hearing people criticising President Obama for not being 'Black' enough.
But, I seek to understand their perspectives. Apparently, my loud mouth, unfiltered comments and inability to speak Thai perfectly have lessened my Thai-ness qualities. All of these traits contradict some Thai values such as "Reab Roi" - something my mom still has a difficult time instilling in me. (Reab Roi = to behave appropriately/to appear well-mannered/to be more lady-like).
Instead of taking offence at the comment, I put my time in Thailand during my latest trip home to good use and tried to understand others' perceived lack of 'Thai' in me. I studied new objects in detail. I talked to strangers. I ate things I've never tried. I went to places that I never cared to visit.
I got out of the experience more than I hoped for. I found the beauty in my motherland and the Thais way of life that I'd taken for granted. Hopefully, I have articulated my experiences through these pictures well enough for you to see the beauty of Thai culture through my eyes.
In the end, I learnt that I am just as Thai as the next Thai I know. There are many characteristics that are commonly found in Thai people. I just chose not to hold on to all of them. It's about choosing the values that define who you are rather than where you are from. It's about picking a certain mindset such as:
"Sanook" - creating opportunities to have fun in life
"Kreng jai" - being aware of other people’s feelings and trying not to impose yourself and your view on others
"Sabai sabai" - taking it easy, don't worry, be happy
"Nam jai" - happily helping friends, family or strangers, when they need help
"Arai kor dai" - can't be bothered; shrugging your shoulders at things that no longer matter
"Kin arai dee" (my favourite) - seeking pleasure in food by asking oneself and others: what should we eat next? (often while you are still eating the current meal) :)
Last but not least, "Yim" - the ability to smile under any circumstance. After all, our country's slogan is "The Land Of Smiles." After my latest trip home, I am happy to report that I find this is still pleasantly true :)