I have mentioned previously that on my first trip to Chiang Mai with my good lady I was taken by surprise when we left the hotel to go for a meal with a member or two of her Bangkok family, they had come to Chiang Mai for a holiday and we happened to be in Chiang Mai at the same time.
So we left the hotel and I was surprised to see a minibus, and when the door opened, I found, along with 3 relatives, about 7 others who were on holiday with them. So Thais being Thais they decided to come along. This was my first experience of the Thai culture, always remember that when you invite someone to come over, be prepared for a bus to come as well. Thais will talk coming over and other will come over too. This is especially so when there is a new person involved and that person is a Falang (Or Foreigner)
So into the minibus we went to be greeted by a lot of faces and was introduced to each one by one, only to forget each ne as I was told the next. So I settle back into my seat as my girlfriend chatted away , in Thai and lots of conversations sprung up all around me. I guess about this new falang in the family and I am sure my girlfriend was talking about me as I heard my name being said now and then.
Now, when you are in a relationship with a Thai lady, you get use to sitting back and observing, as they talk a lot and a lot of Thais, especially in Thailand, are afraid to speak to you in English, even though they can speak fairly well. It’s not bad manners, its being shy and they do not want to lose face, or look like a fool.
In the minibus was a beautiful, and shy little girl, who was about 4 years old. I am not sure if she had ever been this close to a falang, but she had that look of curiosity and shyness. I tried breaking the ice by playing peak a boo with my hands which she loved and she was having a great time.
So after a while we arrived at a restaurant, a large one and like a lot of restaurants it was outside and covered by a roof and no sides. We were ushered to a large table, (I think the table had been booked) and we all sat down. I learnt that this lovely girl was my granddaughter. Her name was Magic, not her real name, but Thais have nick names and this was hers. So food was ordered, I let my girlfriend do my ordering as she knows my taste and how much spice I can take.
So Magic was sitting in a high chair beside me to my left and her mum opposite me. We started to eat and she noticed a few stray cat were walking around the place, and started pointing at them. As I have a cat at home and in an effort to break the ice further I went over to the cat and stroked its back. Well cats being cats, Thai or otherwise, it loved it. So I went over to her and managed to get her to follow me to the cat, I was getting somewhere as she was hiding behind my left as I was stroking the cats back.
Magic looked up at me and said “Meow” pointing at the car, I said yes, thinking she was imitating the cat. It was only when I told Nui, my girlfriend what Magic was saying that I was told that’s what Thai for Cat, I thought, ace, that’s brilliant, just a pity the rest of the Thai language was that simple.
So I sat back on my seat to tuck into some food, only to have my finger grabbed by Magic and I was taken to the cat again and instructed, yes instructed to “ Loop, Loop” I later got back to the table to be told she was saying, stroke stroke.
This happened a few times, and I am sure that those of you who have children of that age understand that I had started something I could not finish. So I was taking her all over the restaurant looking for cats and stroking the, Magic got bolder and started holding my hand and we were inseparable.
I can say that I was the star of the restaurant as I could see the Thais in the other tables, as well as ours, all smiling at this falang and I was told later that I was a hit, as they did not expect me to gel so quickly with Magic and they thought it was wonderful how I got on with her.
So why is this blog called Cat Foreigner, well that’s simple, Magic has named me Meow Falang, and no matter how we try to change it, that’s my name. When I visited last year, we went around the minibus and naming everyone, and she copied their name, until they got to me, they said my name, she responded Mai, ( No ) “ Meow Falang”
So I now have a Thai nick name.