Today I am going to continue with some examples of good Thai manners which I see a lot in every-day situations. The pictures today illustrate how to behave at home and when visiting relations and friends. In the above picture, a daughter is talking to her parents. Notice, that as her parents are seated, it is proper protocol for her then to kneel on the floor while talking to them. The head, in Thailand, is considered sacred and you have to be aware at all times which level it is in relation to people your senior. You saw in my previous blog how the students would dip their head as they walked past an adult or teacher. It doesn’t matter if you are walking in front of them or behind. You still need to make an effort. As a tall foreigner, it isn’t always possible to dip your head lower, but you need to at least make the effort to lower your head.
In these second set of photos, the family have gone out to visit the grandmother. On the way they bump into an adult friend of the mother. Notice how the adults wai each other. In this situation, between peers, you bring your hands up to chest level and bow your head down to meet them. The woman doesn’t have to courtesy which you saw in earlier pictures. This is a proper wai. However, in daily life, many people do what I call a “lazy wai”. They bring their thumbs up to about nose level and do not bow. Just don’t forget, whenever you “wai”, always do it in a graceful manner. Never make any quick jerky movements.
After the adults have greeted each other, the mother turns to the daughter to introduce her adult friend. This time the age difference is more important. The daughter has to pay more respect to the person older than herself. Notice how she does a deep bow and a courtesy at the same time. You cannot see in this photo but the adult is doing a “receiving wai”. He does this by bringing his hands up to chest level like before but this time he doesn’t bow. It is quite important for you to realize that you should never “wai” a child first. At school, when the students “wai” the teachers, we usually just smile and nod back as acknowledgment. The students in our school are all quite young. However, if one of my ex-students comes to visit me, then I give them a “receiving wai”. Though usually I will raise the hands a little higher to about nose level in order to show them a bit more respect.
Later, I will show you what happens when this family arrives at the grandmother’s house.