Monday, June 2, 2014

You speak Lao, you not foreigner

Yesterday at IKEA: a crowded shopping mall, and we are afraid of not getting a taxi home. A taxi van then stopped, we told the driver that we want to go to Samrong Nuea and he refused to take us. "No, No" he said. I took a picture of his car, just to remember the number for an optonal complaint later (depending on my level of anger and frustration divided by the time we have to wait for a taxi that takes us). It took not more than five minutes and the taxi van came back. The driver opened the door and shouted at us we should go in the taxi. I asked again if he will takes us to Samrong and switch on the meter, and he said yes. So we jumped in.

After a few meters he started asking me in Thai if I took a photo. Of course not, I answered in local honesty, why should I? "You take photo", he repeated, swearing about foreigners always doing this. I was a bit scared if we are now trapped in a taxi with an angry driver - heard stories about a not so nice outcome. But it seemed that he received some complaints before and learned his lesson and was just blowing off some steam. Then he asked about directions, and I explained him to use Banga Trad and then turn to Srinakarin road. He replied that there is a traffic jam, and I accidently asked "Yu say?" in Lao instead of "Yu ti nai" in Thai. (Where?)

He suddenly changed his mood, turned around and asked why I speak Lao. I explained that we lived there for three years and that I picked up a bit. Turned out he is - as most of his collegues - from Isan, and forgotten was all picture taking. We had some fun talking Lao and finally he said "You speak Lao, you not foreigner" in English, and when we arrived at our home, we were best friends already.

There is a reason why I always insisted at my Thai language school that I want to speak average Thai peoples language, not something that just exists in books and some very official meetings. And I am thankful for having learned enough Lao to be able to speak with many people who work in the so important service sector in Thailand.