One of my least favorite questions is "Do you know how to speak Thai?".
I get this a lot from my friends who visit from The Third World who think (rightly so, I should say) that because I've lived here for more than a couple of years now I should speak a decent amount of Thai already.
Well, define decent. The only Thai phrase I know quite well is "Make you loving long time mistah".
My utter incompetence in speaking Thai is perhaps the biggest tragedy of my life in Thailand, a thing that continuously embarrasses me.
I think it's really insulting to the Thai people I meet. Bloody two years and I've not improved at all!
On my first months here, I sort of studied a few phrases here and there but never really took it seriously coz at that time I did not have any idea if I'd live here more than a year so I thought there'd be no purpose of me intensively learning it.
I still tried though. I even found a website that has like Thai lessons and stuff but it only took me about three minutes of going through those difficult tones before I'd proceed to watching porn instead. What did I tell you about my attention span?
It's a given of course that Thai is very difficult coz it's tonal and they have a script that does not look anything I've seen before.
Can I talk about the script for a moment here?
When I arrived in the airport two years ago I was seriously surprised to see the signs in those squiggly texts. I thought to my self: "They still use them?".
Well I knew beforehand that Thailand has its own script but I said still above coz I honestly thought that they have since moved on to using Roman script. I'm serious.
(Gosh, why am I subjecting my self to this embarrassment?)
And then, when we were on the highway I saw every bloody sign was in Thai script with a tiny English translation, or sometimes none at all.
I realized how insanely little I know about this country. I swear I did some research but obviously I was way too ignorant still.
And I was bound to work in an NGO on Southeast Asian culture! Oh, the irony of it all!
All along I thought the rest of the world speaks and writes (if that makes sense) English!
It's like going to Mars and expecting the all Martians to look like Naomi Campbell or Guinevere Van Seenus. I know, I have stupid written all over me.
So anyway, I was thus confronted with the horror of not being able to communicate properly to most people I met. Thank God my colleagues are English speakers but once I leave the confines of the work place I'm practically mute or at least people cannot hear me.
You'd think that is motivation enough for me to learn Thai? Well, apparently not. Believe me, I'm not in any way proud of that.
My excuse had always been: but it's bloody difficult!
Maybe it really is not. I know dozens of foreigners in Thailand who have learned how to speak AND read Thai.
My best example is BFF Heidi, who after five months of living here had started conversing in Thai and READING the menus in Thai. Now the bitch speaks Thai like he was raised in Klong Thoey!
The amazing thing about Heidi is he studied the language on his own and simply practiced it with his friends. OK, maybe it's not that simple, but obviously Heidi did it by sheer determination and hard work.
Which means that learning Thai is not like learning how to walk on a tight rope or how to give your self a blowjob.
But poor, lazy me, I've never gotten beyond the first dozen phrases I learned when I first came here. Jing jing!!!
And honestly, I don't see my self progressing any further if I keep on dillydallying. I pick a few new phrases here and there but I know I should do better.