Siam Smile Mental Clinic 2
Well I don't have to tell you that I am hooked on coffee. Since my serviced apartment restaurant has poor standards of service (we already talked about it), I hired a motorbike driver to bring me every morning at 9:00 AM a tall café latte from
the nearest Starbucks branch. Well this morning I waited until 9:30 AM and he did not came. Then I remembered that my girlfriend talked to him yesterday and told him that we were going to go somewhere at 10AM in the morning and maybe he thought
he didn’t need to bring coffee for some reason. Sometimes it’s better not to tell anything to a Thai, because you just completely confuse him, even if you speak Thai to him like my girl did. So I call him at 9:35AM. He is out of
reach. I send him the following message:
No coffee today?
9:50AM I reached him on his mobile. "Where are you? Where is my coffee?" He sounds like he just got up. "Come here quick", I add, "I have to leave at 10AM". He says he will be there in 5 minutes.
10:10 AM. I am waiting for the coffee in the lobby now and my hands are almost shaking, desperately waiting for the miracle drug. My driver is already here with his car. My girlfriend is still upstairs working on her hair. I could call her to come down, but we can not go before I have my latte. So the guy finally arrives on his motorbike. I thought that’s strange, where does he keep my coffee? He comes to me without it. Come on, don’t joke around now, where is my coffee? I tell him. Ah, you want coffee, he asks. What do you mean? I am staring to get pissed off. Then he says: You write message to me no coffee today. I say, Well yes, but I wrote it with a question mark in the end. Do you know what a question mark is? Of course he did not know. My girl comes and gives him a lesson in English grammar. He says sorry and starts to massage my arm. No time for massage now, I walk to the in-house supermarket and get some Birdy or whatever that cold can coffee’s name is.
My friend Franz, a former Austrian ski instructor always has some funny stories about the Thais: Some government department of Austria, probably it was the ministry of tourism, has given a Thai advertising agency a job to promote Austria in Thailand. They came up with advertising proposals with pictures of the Eiffel Tower, Coliseum and an Austrian Airlines jet. At least they got the airline right.
Franz also told me the following story: The Austrian ambassador wanted to call the British ambassador urgently in the morning, so he tells his Thai secretary to connect him to the British Embassy. Well, at noon, he remembers that he has not spoken to the British ambassador yet. So he asks his secretary why she didn’t transfer the important call to his desk. The Thai secretary excuses herself with the following words: Sorry Sir, I called there one time and the line was busy na ka.
More telephones: I called the supermarket in my building. The line is busy. I call three more times over the next half hour. The line is always busy. So I call the reception to tell the in house supermarket to bring me 2 cokes. Nothing happens, so I call the supermarket again and let the girl who is unfortunate enough to be with me at that moment talk to them. I tell her to ask them why they were always busy. She tells me, they don’t know what I mean. Fine. So I tell my girl to order 2 cokes. 5 minutes later the supermarket girl arrives finally at my door. I ask her why her supermarket phone line is always busy. She tells me some weird story in Thai, I only understand half of it. Whatever. I tell her to buy a mobile phone and get a provider like AIS, DTAC or True move, so she would not block the supermarket line for incoming orders anymore. Ten minutes later my home phone rings: Sir, you want telephone card?
I went with a girl about ten times to the Outback Steakhouse at Siam Discovery. She used to call it Outbreak I found that alone quite funny. Outback is not a bad place if you want some privacy, just sit next to the children’s playground and the Indian Manager is very friendly. The waiters need a lesson is discretion, but that is another story. Yesterday, we met there again, for the 11th time. Suddenly she starts to look around, sees a stuffed crocodile and says: Is this an Australian restaurant?
I recently bought Callas Forever a fictional story about her last months of life in 1977 with Jeremy Irons. A fantastic film by the way. So I went out with my girl and came back to my apartment. She is tired and starts to sleep instantly. I watch a bit of the movie in the bedroom. Just in the scene where Callas plays Bizets Carmen and you see a bunch of gipsy dancers running around on the screen she wakes up. Is this a movie with Salma Hayek? God bless her.
So the same girl (I know – poor her) and me are watching W.C. Fields in the Bank Dick. She finds it quite funny, I find it simply divine. After a while she goes to the kitchen and gets water. She says to me You want some too? and I reply using old W.C. Fields joke: No thanks honey. I don’t drink water, fish fxxx in it. She says What?. I try to explain to her the joke. She goes: Why don’t you drink water? Honey its good for you!. It’s a joke dear. Yeah, I know but they recycle the water before it goes to the bottles she says. You mean they purify it. But still some fish maybe did fxxx in that water I insist. Fxxx where? she starts again. Come on Lookling, let’s watch the movie. Just a moment honey, let me get another glass of water she replies.
Communication problems are inevitable in Thailand – and half the trick is checking that the message was understood. NEVER ask “Do you understand” as the answer will always be yes. Ask a couple of questions, preferably simple questions that require only a yes or no answer to verify. E.g. Do I want coffee? What time do I want it?