More heart talk – lessons in Jai

When I wrote my blog last week on Jai ใจ, the Thai language of the heart, I don’t think I realized potentially just how big a blog I planned to take a bite out of to chew! Writing about Christopher Moore’s book ‘Heart Talk’ I learned there are just so many really cool and uniquely ‘Thai’ nuances to express the heart. I mean tipping the scales at just over 450 different phrases to convey about 400 different kinds of feeling… that’s a lot of feeling! I was being way too optimistic to do a fairly decent write up on this and be anywhere near complete in just one blog there are just too many good examples to pick from.

Looking at the scope of what I could write about in several pretty decent blogs I was at a loss just what to do. Chop everything up into bits and blurbs of Jai like curry? Some spicy, some sweet or some hot? Write and write and write until my cracked and bleeding fingers can’t type anymore? Oui, the checks my brain writes that my body has to cash sometimes. And I have to go to bed in about 5 hours!

Therefore I decided rather than trying to tackle the whole book in one go I thought in ode to Stevesuphans ‘do and don’t’ series I’d do something similar. Yes, Virginia when in doubt or facing a deadline plagiarism (sort of) is alive and well in America, I mean just look at TV!

I’m thinking there are 13 chapters in the book so why not pick a chapter or two to write about at a time? That enough blog material for each month at least for a year! Like the saying goes, ”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. How do you write a blog this big? One chapter at a time. Nguu nguu, bplaa bplaa. Same thing. This way a little over time actually says a lot, perfect for a perpetual talker like me, chai mai?

That being said here now is part 2 of Heart Talk my new on again, off again (like my coffee habit) series of blogs on Jai, the Thai language of the heart so let’s get to the good stuff starting with today’s line up. However, if you’re like me and not the patient sort to wait till the end of my blog series to learn everything about Jai you can always buy the book from Richard’s bookshop. I’m sure he won’t mind just tell him Wit sent ya 😉

Heart Talk Compliments

Eat Heart

Gin Jai กิน ใจ

This is an interesting one since gin กิน means ‘to eat’ but actually it means the feeling of being impressed with another person, event or object. You’re impressed to see the Phra Sri Ratana Chedi in Bangkoks Wat Phra Kaeo the first time? That’s Gin Jai. You’re impressed a Thai family can fit their entire extended family including pets, farm animals and luggage on a two wheel motorcycle? That’s gin jai too and a few other things as well.

Stamp Heart

Prathap Jai ประทับใจ or Trueng Taa Trueng Jai ตรึงตาตรึงใจ

To pay someone a compliment you can say you feel this heart expression. Similarly to Gin Jai you express a feeling of being impressed. A Thai may be impressed at how well a farang can actually Pood Thai dai and wants to compliment you. That’s Prathap Jai. Likewise a farang may be impressed with everything he sees about Thailand and become a Thai fanatic like me, just what the world needs although I’m not sure I’d call myself a compliment right? 😉

Trust Heart

Way Jai ไวใจ or Way Waang Jai ไว้วางใจ

When you express Way Jai it means you trust another with your heart. This is the holy grail of relationships. To know you have the trust of someone to confide in and rely on whether it’s friends or family, boyfriends or girlfriends if you have ‘Way Jai’ in someone or they have ‘way jai’ in you then you better not muck it up. Tell your faen they can trust in you then you better mean it or hide the cutlery!

Bold Heart

Jai Det ใจเด็ด

This expression could be either good or bad. It can mean you are fearless when facing a situation or adversary which is noble and good. Another one similar to this is to have ‘Daring Heart’ ใจถึง like if you see someone in trouble and you rush to their aid. But sometimes too much is not exactly a good thing. Jumping through three moving samlors traveling at break neck speed to get to a Bangkok lottery stand in time to get what you hope is a winning ticket is not just bold but stupid, however for love or money there is no limit to what anyone will do.

Sporting Heart

Jai bplam ใจปั้ม

Not to be confused with Ginger, Scary, Baby, or Posh Heart, trust me. This is a good quality in someone and not outdated girl band pop music. If you have Sporty Heart then you have the qualities of a leader you step up to take charge and you’re the one others look to in decision making. An example given in the book is to lead by making small gestures like automatically picking up the check when dining out. Unfortunately in America being ‘sporty’ in this way a lot of times means excercise by making a mad dash to the door before your waitress even brings the check!

Very Happy Heart

Hua Jai PhOOng too หัวใจพองโต

This is a very nice heart expression to feel when you receive a special gift and often the giver as well as the receiver feels Hua Jai PhOOng too. Often the gift is a surprise or unexpected like you don’t expect something from a person but not only do they surprise you they exceed any expectation you might have had! Example? You don’t expect to hear from a your girlfriend or boyfriend on Friday because they go to work when your leaving work but when you get ready to go home they call to say they are not only outside your office waiting on you but have even brought you home cooking! Trust me I know this one from recent experience and it is a very happy heart feeling definitely 😉

Good Heart Fights the Tiger

Jai Dee Suu Suea ใจดีสู้เสือ

These next two I like just because they sound so cool and so Thai! If you have Jai Dee Suu Suea then Thai people feel if you have a good heart you have the courage to take on any adversary like a wild animal or even an armed robber. If your heart is good then you are supposedly protected from any harm. Sounds like Superman there to save the day but you know I read in Thai newspapers where there often cases of someone who must have had Jai Dee Suu Suea for breakfast and did something courageous like this. That would be cool if I could sprinkle some of that on my Wheaties!

Good Heart, Ghosts Enters

Jai Dee Phii Khaw ใจดีผีเข้า

This is a good quality but often with bad results. If your known as someone who has Jai Dee Phii Khaw then your known as someone who is generous with a really good heart but is easy to be taken advantage of. In Thailand most everyone is guided by rules of conduct called Kreeng Jai. Which are basically you don’t ask favors of others for fear of imposing on them. But if you know someone has Jai Dee Phii Khaw then you don’t fear imposing on such a person with favors or requests. Like the name says people like this enter in a heart that is ‘too good’ like ghosts to haunt. Sounds like some of my relatives, so who you gonna call?

Water Heart

Nam Jai น้ำใจ

Nam Jai is one of the most commonly expressed heart words to describe Thai people that you are likely to hear. Ironically this heart expression is called ‘water’ heart and I’ll get to why that is in a moment. If you have Nam Jai then it means first to my mind consideration. But in a big way through small gestures it is also compassion, caring and kindness often so easily done without thinking. You think of someone else first or do some small act of consideration for someone, giving up your seat on the bus for another or letting someone in a hurry ahead of you in line even when you’re tired and really ready to go home. All it takes is any gesture of appreciation you make for another person. The author wrote such small acts are ‘the glue that holds society together, makes us all a little more human and decent…the way a person with Water Heart treats another touches us all”

The reason why this is ironic to me? The first time I heard the word Nam Jai it was spoken by a farang backpacker talking to a foreign news correspondent about the nature of Thai people. He was explaining how Nam Jai is the very nature of Thailand. The date was December 28th, 2004. Two days after the Tsunami struck Thailand. The backpacker was one of the thousands who flooded into Phuket to help with relief efforts. It’s ironic that water caused so much death and suffering that day but in the days that followed ‘Water Heart’ is what swelled in so many to help the hurting and helpless left in the Tsunamis’ wake.

And so it goes.

Well this about wraps it up for me. As they say in the newspaper business it’s time to put this one ‘to bed’ and yours truly is soon to bed also. While you guys over there in Thailand are eating your lunch it’s almost midnight here so time to get my batteries recharged with some sleep for another week of madcap hilarity called ‘living in the USA’

Next blog, as they used to say on ‘Monty Python’, will be ‘something completely different’…hmm trying to explain British satire like the Python to Thai people…Richard over to you na krab. Till next time.



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