A Deep Conversation

Christmas Day I managed to have a muscle spasm in my lower right back.  I wasn’t lifting, bending, stretching or doing anything at the time.  The muscle just had an unexplained spasm.  The following day I went to the hospital and had an acupuncturist look at it.  Upon review it was decided that physical therapy would be more effective than acupuncture in this case.  So the following two days I came in for physical therapy.

After an ultrasound treatment (it’s a boy!) and twenty minutes of heat pad and traction, I spent an hour working with a physical therapist who stretched, pulled, and massaged my torso and taught me exercises I could do to strengthen my back muscles.

The staff seemed to really like that I spoke Thai.  This therapist in particular, who spoke English quite well, fell into an easy rapport with me and we ended up having a very wide-ranging conversation, mostly in Thai, over the two days he worked on me.

The conversation was, in fact, the longest conversation I’ve had with any Thai whom I did not already know.  We talked about language, life upcountry (where he went to university) versus in the big city (where he was born and raised), how Bangkok has changed in the past thirty years, and we even talked about the political situation in Thailand.  Generally, Thais are very hesitant to discuss politics with strangers, but he was very candid with me, although he spoke in very veiled terms since lèse majesté laws are strictly enforced in Thailand.  The long and the short of it is that he worries about changes that will inevitably come.

I walked away from our conversation with a deep sense of satisfaction.  Although I’ve lived here for more than four years, I rarely have the opportunity to interact in depth with Thais whom I don’t already know, especially on any meaningful level.  At the physical therapy clinic I must have been viewed as a pleasant change from the usual foreigner so was able to chat with the staff a great deal.

Interestingly, upon learning that I was married to a Thai – and being only slightly shocked that that Thai is a man – I was asked what seems to be a litmus test question: “Do you like Pattaya?”  Pattaya, a seaside resort two hours southeast of Bangkok, has a reputation for trashiness particularly with regards to sex for sale and, less so these days, child prostitution.  I answered that I had been to Pattaya only once, for just a few hours on an errand, and had found it very distasteful.  That seemed to be the right answer.

 

0 thoughts on “A Deep Conversation

  1. I wonder if he would have asked you that question if you weren’t gay…? Just a thought. It’s really nice to have a connection with your care givers. Makes the experience less painful! 🙂 Oh and tell us when the baby shower is! Hahaha!

  2. oh……Pattaya… those poor young boys and girls…..I think I have seen the same case in Phuket the …Patong beach as well?anyway hope you are recovered with your back pain!

  3. How wonderful that you had such a good chat with a local professional. I am always being amazed by your love of doing things the right way.You didn’t say how your back is doing after the treatment. That was funny, about it being a boy, after the ultra sound.

  4. Back pain is awful! PT is usually the best route. Glad you were able to put those language lessons to good use. It does pay to learn the local language – glad you got to experience a good conversation.

  5. @murisopsis – Yes, this experience makes four years of study worthwhile…@ZSA_MD – Oh, the back is better for the most part.  Still a little stiff but I’m gently stretching and being careful.@agmhkg – Phuket has some of it but not nearly as bad as Pattaya.@arenadi – It came out (I came out?) pretty early in the conversation.  These conversations always follow a predictable pattern: Oh, you speak Thai?  How long have you been in Thailand?  What do you do in Thailand?  Where did you learn to speak Thai?  Do you have a “faan”?  (gender-neutral word for girl/boyfriend)  Oh, you are married?  Is she Thai?  Oh, she’s a he?  Etc…@brooklyn2028 – Pattaya is even more notorious for straight people so I suspect the question would have been asked either way.  In fact, I’d say it was more likely had I been straight.@Dezinerdreams – @yang1815 –  Pattaya does actually have a pretty beach although the water is nasty dirty.@slmret – @ElusiveWords – I’ve found that if I use my Thai to ask lots of questions about the person, it gets them really engaged.  People like talking about themselves.  (Must explain why people blog!  LOL)

  6. Well, another thing that has changed in the 30 years that I have been gone, Pattaya was a wonderful resort area when we went there, or else I was just to naive that I wasn’t aware of the seedier side of it!!! So, what in particular is this fellow concerned about, as far as the political situation in Thailand? It is obvious that their King is aging and will not be there forever, is he concerned about the one who will take his place? And by they way..congratulations..have you and Tawn decided on a name for this “Boy”? lololHappy New Year!! Ruth Ann

  7. I wonder how much this therapy costs? I hope you’ll feel better soon!Regarding Pattaya, I guess he must have this impression that most ‘farangs’ like that place. When I paid a visit there a while back, I noticed there’s a vibrant real estate market, specifically selling condos to foreigners. Apparently, many have ‘invested’ into the condo market in that city and there’s even a real estate agent (farang from Germany) catering to the Europeans.

  8. @CurryPuffy – PT is expensive, about 2900 Bt (US$80) per session.  After a bit of a recovery the muscle spasmed again today so I went to see an acupuncturist at the same hospital.  We’ll see how that works.Pattaya is very popular with farang.  I can see why.  Even if you don’t like the sleze, there are these nice resorts and high-end condos that have decent beaches.  Plus, with the new airport on the east side of the airport, you can be in Pattaya in 90 minutes.  Convenient.@Redlegsix – “Yes” to paragraph two.@swcheng15 – We’re very proud, thanks.  LOL

  9. @Wangium – It is against the constitution to disparage the King, Queen, or other immediate members of the royal family.  Anyone who takes offense can press charges and this law is used (many would say “abused”) as a political tool here in Thailand.

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