Hi there it me again and it’s the weekend so time for another monster blog
My apologies in advance for enduring my narcissistic indulgence 😉
Today is Saturday and my day off wahoo! It’s also the monthly meeting of the North Virginia Thai Language Meetup Group of which I am a member. My friend khun Todd who I go to class with at Wat Thai here in DC found
this website group online and sent me the link a couple of months ago. This is a group of Thai students and working professionals here in the DC-Virginia area and farang members who share a common experience or interest in Thai language and culture.
The group meets once a month usually at Cosi’s restaurant in Ballston, Virginia which is easily accessible to me on the Orange line of our city’s Metro. It looked like an interesting group from the website so I joined and went to my first meeting last month. I had a good time meeting and talking with a variety of Thai speakers and farang enthusiasts from different backgrounds. Since then I became a fairly active member working to structure Thai lesson plans and activities and also some fun trivia contests online. If you click here you can check out our new group website on Yahoo that might help us find more members since Meetup.com is a bit off the beaten cyber path.
John, our group founder, is Thai but grew up in Texas and recently moved to DC. He started the group to meet other people since he is new to the area. This month many of our core members were out of town or unable to attend so John and I debated rescheduling but the night before he called me to say he had two new members that wanted to come so we planned to go ahead and meet even though it would be a pretty small group to get together.
We planned on each member bringing our favorite Thai learning materials to share and discuss. I would bring my laptop and some of my favorite music VCD’s since I love modern Thai pop and rock music! For me it’s a good way to listen and learn how to speak Thai by hearing words over and over and reading them in Thai script on the karaoke VCD so I brought music by แคลช, กะลา, and my favorite ลาบานูน! Or, in English rather, karaoke CD’s by the bands Clash, Kala and Labanoon.
The weather today is awesome unlike the mini-monsoon we had here the day before but it’s a bad sign when I go downstairs to make my morning coffee and there is no coffe mate! Ugh, oh well I’ll hit Starbucks while I am out for a caffeine fix. Things get worse however when I go to get a shower and I discover a bigger problem, my house had no water! A water main down the street burst so the whole neighborhood is without water. Oh Man!
I throw a change of clothes, a towel and my toiletry kit in a bag along with my materials for the meetup and go to my friends’ house just so I can shower and shave. This means I have to take the Metro all the way into Maryland, the next state over, and then walk several blocks to my friends place. It’s not until I get halfway to Maryland that I realize in my haste I forgot to grab a belt for my pants and also my Buddha necklace that I wear. Double ‘Oh, Man!’
I make it to my friends house and get a nice refreshing shower since the day is already getting very warm outside. I shave, get dressed and bang out the door as soon as possible. I am starting to panic since originally I planned to go back home after showering to drop off my clothes and pick up my laptop but now I wouldn’t have time! I don’t think I can make it back by my house to drop my clothes so I leave them with my friend to pick up later. I called John on my cell phone and explained my situation and asked if he would bring his laptop since I could not go home to get mine, I was betting that he had one which he did so at least that problem was solved.
I’m running really late! The trip to get a shower took way longer than it should. Every stop on the Metro is delayed by several minutes and I have to change trains three times going from Maryland to Virginia where the resturant is that we meet at. The trip is slowed down the entire way because the trains going in both directions have to share the same track in between stations. They must be working on them since the entire Red line is slowed down. Just great! I kept having to remind myself to think the Thai way and repeat over and over to myself ไม่เป็นไร, or mai bpen rai, it was ok, it didn’t matter and everything would be fine even though the meet up was at 1:00!
I finally made it! I walk through the resturant and don’t see anyone, wheres the group? They didn’t all leave already? Finally I spot John so I am relieved that nothing more can go wrong today. In fact it turns out ok since the two new members didn’t show John was the only one there having lunch by himself. I was starving by this time since I missed breakfast so it was cool to just hang out and have a nice lunch together.
Let me tell you alittle about John. He’s 100% Thai as far as I know but he has a very all-American boy look to him that girls would probably fall head over heals for. He also works out and has some pretty well developed arm muscles. Any girls interested in a hot catch who is strong but soft spoken I can forward your e-mail to him 😉 I like John because he is a pretty laid back guy. He and I have some great conversations like discussing the merits of Buddhist meditation for example so he has a really thoughtful, intelligent side. Since we both grew up in America we can also relate other things together like a randy sense of humor 😉
Later on Penpimol a Thai friend of Johns joined us after she left work and we chatted for quite a bit, or I should say, they chatted and I listened since Penny, as she likes to be called doesn’t speak much English and prefers speaking only Thai. Penny had a great sense of humor as well and it was funny to see the two of them laugh and joke easily together. Penny was trying to explain and pantomine a funny incident with shampoo and facial cream that took me a few minutes to understand! She’s shy but has a nice personality. To be honest I love to hear Thai women speak there is just something about it, very lyrical and melodic about how Thai women speak their language.
I learned two new words, ขึ้นคาน keun caan and ขวบกันปี kwup gan bpii. The first word is actually two Thai words together and the second word is actually three words together but both are expressions of the same subject roughly. Can you tell what they mean? Here’s a hint both have to do with age and thankfully, as the oldest one there, it didn’t have to do with me!
We spent a good part of the afternoon together but after about 4 o’clock we needed to get going our separate ways. Penny and I left John and we rode the Metro train together since we both lived in the same direction. We chatted but it was rough in places since I am great at reading and writing Thai but speaking it, listening and comprehending when someone speaks to me in Thai is my still my weakest skill sometimes. Penny works as a travel agent and she specializes in clients who travel to Thailand and other places in South East Asia. Before we split up to go our separate ways she gave me her business card and I gave her my e-mail address.
Later on when I got home she sent a link for great discount air fare traveling around in Thailand. Plus I also have a friend here in DC that just started working at a major airline and he told me he can get me round trip tickets first class to Bangkok for only $400! It’s all about the connections baby!
Finally going home I got off the train in Woodley Park the neighborhood closest to my house. It’s a nice neighborhood there with several shops and resturants including a Thai resturant called Jandara. The building is painted purple so thats kinda cool and it had a great sidewalk seating area for eating outside. I had never eaten there before so I was curious plus I also wanted to see someone I knew that works there.
Another member of our langauge group is Bo, he’s 24 and a student also from Texas like John that is spending the summer here in DC. I had never met Bo before but he posted a note on our message board looking for a place to stay while in DC so I asked the monks at Wat Thai if they knew of somewhere he could stay. Phra Duchai e-mailed me some phone numbers to call and I passed the info onto Bo. He found a place and has been here a few weeks now.
Bo and I chatted by e-mail and on the phone a couple of times but still had not met. Making general conversation the first time we spoke I asked him what he liked to do for fun and he said “party!” Apparently the other college kids he goes to school with in Texas have enlightened him on “How to Party 101: The American College Experience.” Bo had complained he was a bit bored since his host family lives in an area with nothing much to do so he got a job at Jandara to make some money plus get out of the house. I was pleasantly surprised because Jandara is right there on my Metro stop and I walk by the resturant everyday going back and forth to work.
I wasn’t really hungry again but I knew Bo worked there every Saturday so I wanted to meet him. I walked inside and this young handsome Thai guy that looked like Bo’s picture was the first person I saw. I asked about sitting outside and he showed me to a table and handed me a menu then his mouth dropped open in shock when I thanked him in Thai and used his name! He had not recognized me and was so surprised when I told him who I was. We chatted but one of the first things he asked me was ‘what you do today, go party?!’ Typical college student!
Unfortunately Bo being a 24 year old over awed college student and me a 41, rapidly looking at 42, year old former museum manager starting a new job and new career working in a bank, well let’s just say we each have our own idea of partying. I don’t know about his but mine is usually having an extra coke and some late night TV before bedtime. I decided to get something to eat after all and ordered a light dinner.
I’m glad I did since the ไก่สะเต๊ะ gai satay, or Thai chicken skewers I had was the best I had ever eaten at any other resturant. Bo was also nice enough to have the cook make ต้มข่าไก่ Dtom kha gai for me with shrimp กุ้ง goong instead of chicken the way I like.
The late afternoon was beautiful as I sat and ate watching all the people walking by. The sun bright and shiny but a constant breeze kept everything very cool. The noise of cars and trucks on the street was there but further away in the background next to the sound of birds chirping and singing to each other in the huge shady trees lining the sidewalk. In fact Bo had to shoo away one small bird that landed on my water glass to steal a drink when I wasn’t looking! Off and on Bo would stop to talk when he not waiting on other tables although actually I was the only one eating outside. I told Bo I would meet up with him after my work on his day off Wednesday to take him around some places here in DC. I don’t know if he’ll just be looking for some place to go party but we’ll see maybe I can show him some of the museums that he might like. He’s a handsome guy with that charming Thai smile so I hope he won’t mind being seen with this middle aged farang.