Do You SUFFER From A Superiority Complex?
Speaking To Thais In Thai
I have it from an intelligent source that the British believe themselves superior. I have it from another source that most people are racist. I have it from another source that the Italians think their food and country are fine despite complaining about everything including themselves. It’s obvious / likely we all want to feel superior and to be superior. Last century the Germans decided to be the most superior and led a military campaign to let the world know. Patriotism can go wrong.
But I’m getting side-tracked. I live in Thailand and the Thais believe in their country, their royal family and their Buddha. So far so good. Do Thais believe their country is superior to others? Probably. Otherwise why do millions of tourists flock here?
Now, feeling superior is all well and good. Even I sometimes feel it about my English but should we suffer from a superiority complex? Am I making it up or is there really such a thing as a sufferer from a superiority complex?
After years of trying to speak Thai to the Thais, I’ve decided the travel guides are wrong. The majority of people in Pattaya, repeat in Pattaya, do not appreciate a gringo (farang) who speaks Thai or tries to. They answer you in English, they make weird faces, they don’t understand you, they laugh at you and they show you so many chips on their shoulders that if you had some ketchup you could have a tasty meal. Of course, I’m exaggerating but the point needs making that people with superiority complexes (or inferiority complexes) don’t always warm to you for speaking their own language. As my first Thai bird told me: “Don’t understand Thai or you’ll understand what we think of you!”
I went into a chemist’s in Bang Saray and the chemist didn’t seem to like my Thai. I persisted and after mentioning an infection which she translated into a tissue (similar Thai word, tit chuea, to the English word “tissue”) I left with some eye drops. On another occasion, in the forecourt of Nirun Condo, I spoke to a group of Thais and they were flabbergasted. One said she didn’t understand my Thai. “Speak English!” she ordered. I said to her friends in Thai, “Strange, she’s Thai but she can’t understand her own language!” and they all laughed except The Chip On The Shoulder.
Last night I witnessed two miracles. The noodle-stall lady near my condo in Pattaya Klang understood my Thai and replied in Thai. I went into a bar in Walking Street and listened to a beautiful, twenty-two-year-old telling me she was from Bangkok and was going back in two weeks. I asked in Thai why she was in a Pattaya bar. She replied in Thai that she was a graduate working off her university debts by showing herself off in an a go go.
So, it only goes to show that some “Pattaya” Thais are decent enough to let me try out my Thai. But beware! You will often be punished for trying to speak the lingo.
These superior people! These superiority complexes!