Friday, February 27, 2009

Talktative tourist

A friend and I were at a phone shop purchasing some more minutes for her mobile phone when we encountered a tourist with a need to talk. We were ready to move on from the shop, but he was blocking the door as he continued to talk.
He asked how we could stand the smell of
Thailand—he was comparing it to his home in Hawaii and he didn’t appreciate the open sewers.
He wanted to know why we didn’t speak Thai, because he’d only been there for three months and he could speak it.
And he had a story about how he was served food with bugs in it and when he complained, the restaurant owner and his friends dragged him out to the street and tried to beat him up.
The Thai men were so much smaller than him that he just pretended to fall into the street so he wouldn’t get in trouble for hurting them.

As he was speaking, I immediately had pictures in my mind of this story taking place.
Despite its implausibility, I could see it all: noodles, chicken and little unwanted creatures moving around on his plate; a small gang of Thai men dragging this guy out into a dark street and hitting him.
Probably, somewhere in his story there were pieces of the truth, but it didn't really match what I know of Thai culture. How much of his story, I wondered, was embellished just to keep us, his audience, captive? It had to be an interesting story, or the same way we were squeezing past him to escape out the door we would also soon escape the embarrassment of hearing him ramble on and insult Thai culture.
I think that he must have been very lonely for contact and a conversation in English.
In that, I probably failed him.
But I hope he doesn't get beat up anymore.

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