Delightful SE Asian Wife In Europe – Auxiliaries and Vandals
We have been hiking on muddy forest trails for a while.
"Shoe wet", reports Nahlee, my Thai wife.
I correct her: "THE ShoeSSSS ARE wet."
Only slowly she gets used to definite articles, indefinite articles, plurals, auxiliaries, conjugations, declinations, past tense, participles and other chicanery.
But Nahlee gives it her best: "Oh, my the shoeSSS are too wet now. Let’s go back the home."
She fumes: "Why do you say 'in half an hour'?"
"Why, what’s the problem?"
"It’s difficult to speak! Can’t you say 'in 30 minutes'? Everybody could understand that!"
"Nahlee. If you eat half a mango, do you say 'I eat 7 centimeters of mango'?
"So what do you say?"
"I say, 'I eat half a mango' of course."
"So you can talk like that about hours too, can’t you?"
"Okay – but can we have lunch in 30 minutes?"
A famous journalist comes to town and does a Himalaya slide show. We go there, expecting to see lots of mountains, snow and village life. His photography is superb, but he mostly shows Buddhist pagodas and wrinkled monks from Zanskar to Sikkhim.
Not my cuppa tea. But I figure it is interesting for Nahlee by my side, who is a devout Buddhist. In Thailand, I would accompany her more than one time to the temple, where she did her thing without taking further notice of me. In her apartment over there, she used to have a spirit shrine to talk to her deceased mother and grandparents.
For me, the Himalayan Mahayana Buddhism looks quite like the Hinayana version you get around Thailand and Cambodia. I ask the wife: "Now does the Himalayan Mahayana Buddhism remind you of SE Asia?"
"No! All very different."
The famous journalist drools on about the life-changing talks he had with monks from Ladakh to Bhutan, showing more splendid pics of monks, mandalas and prayer supplies. Can’t he at least take us to Mount Kailash?
The devout Buddhist lady by my side turns to me and whispers in my ear: "What’s that? I expected glaciers and snow covered mountains. All this Buddhist stuff doesn’t interest me."
Time Is Money
My country is famous for a very fast-paced lifestyle, which always frightened her. If at the supermarket cashier you don't have your money ready in hand, you're arrested and deported immediately.
Nahlee'd rather do things slowly, and without much planning ahead. She would tell me "2 o'clock" when it was 1:50 or 2:15. When advised that that was not all the same time, she'd sigh and tell me there was no difference at all. "This is Central Europe", I'd advise her, "Time is money here".
But recently in the capital, Nahlee got very impatient because she had to wait seven minutes for the underground train to the fruit shop near her old school. And when on the return trip she had to wait another nine minutes, she was downright angry.
"What", I say, "you dislike just a few minutes of waiting? In Thailand you patiently wait hours or months for something to happen."
"Yes, but I guess I really changed. I need things done fast now. Time is money."
Clash of Cultures
Vandals have slightly, but not seriously damaged her bicycle at the bus station. She fumes, she can't believe it. Just destroying something out of fun! She says that’s worth than a brutal robbery: "When you have to feed a family, ok, you can steal and kill – but not just for fun!!" I worry she'll board the next THAI jumbo to take her back to the country where damage is done out of the proper reason. Just like cynicism, or the "ugly is beautiful" concept of our pop culture, damaging for fun is something she can’t understand at all.
Clash of Cultures 2
Around the province, all Asian ladies know the cheapest and freshest Asian store in the capital. But not only them. Regularly, as Nahlee shleps out of that cheapest and freshest Asian store, she's approached by the one and same western guy: "Can I talk to you, I only want to talk."
"I have no time", she replies and hurries on. And now, to her sheer disbelief, he follows her along the walkway and says, "I only want to talk, here, let's enjoy some cherries".
My polite conservative Asian lady is beyond her social skills now. "No time", she pleads desperately and dives down the next underground stairs.
She isn't used to obtrusive males. She says he's mid-thirties, clean and neat.
Later she and a lady friend from school sit on the capital's central square near the fountain and enjoy an ice-cream in the sun.
And there he is again.
"Can I talk to you, I only want to talk."
Central Europe has to be a challenge for a Thai woman but it sounds like you two are doing just fine!