Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thai Smiles, Part 8: Boon The Greek

One afternoon while out wandering around in Isaan I saw someone working in an open-fronted shop that (a) I wanted a closer look at and (b) was a good candidate for a picture - so I slowed down, got the camera out and turned on (saves the clumsiness when asking for a pose) and approached this guy I'll call Boon, since I can't find his real name in my old notes, sorry to say.

As usual, it was a warm afternoon and there was a light sheen of perspiration on his skin as he moved things around inside the front of the shop. I was already getting a little sunburned and sweaty myself since I'd been out walking for a couple of hours, people watching and taking photos. In fact, the picture of the machete-wielding kids "hunting" in the drainage canal were from that same walk, as were a number of others.

"Sawatdee! (hello)" I said, flashing the most disarming smile possible. "Sabai dee ru (how are you)?" He looked up and replied "Hey! How're YOU doin'?!" in English that would've sounded at home back home. Luckily no flies flew into my mouth as my jaw hung open for a few seconds. He laughed and said "I'm not a native Thai. My mother's Thai, my father's Greek. I was born here, but I was raised in Greece." "If you hadn't said anything I'd have never known," I said, still a little surprised.

It turns out he was on a school break and had come back to visit the family for the first time in more than a year. He didn't read Thai and only spoke a little bit of it. We chatted for a few minutes, both of us pleased to be speaking English, I think.

"Actually, I'd stopped to ask if I could take a picture of you... do you mind?" I asked, somewhat sheepishly. "Nah, not at all," he said "snap away." I took three or four quick pictures and then thanked him, wished him luck in school and a safe journey back to Greece.
"Sawatdee," I said, waving goodbye as I turned to leave. "See ya later!" he replied, going back to his stock work. "Take it easy!"

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