May 22, 2012

Neckermann Bumms Bomber (Learning Thai (2))

Let's get this out of the way first. Remember the 2 k-sounds from our last post? Here are a few more:

Got it?

Well,  back in the late seventies, my then-colleague Han felt the urge to take the Neckermann Bumms Bomber (his words, you'll figure this out yourself) to Bangkok (กรุงเทพมหานคร). Han had been a seminarist (studying for priest) until the Marxist wave struck the Netherlands and he took up residence in Amsterdam's red light district, where he would spend the evening checking whether he still had the 25 guilders in his pockets to pay one of the neighboring ladies of the night for the standard job (he told me). Arriving in Thailand, he met a girl, fell in love, bought a home, and learned Thai, while keeping a part time appointment at the University of Amsterdam. Thai learning is difficult, he explained with starry eyes, citing the fact that the language has innumerable consonants, among which 5 different k-sounds (there you have it; the table mentions six, but two are obsolete).

And when back in Amsterdam, Han became a pillar of the relationship community, with which I mean to say that he was hired to save gay couples, in particular those comprising a Dutch person and an imported Thai boy. Relationships, Han explained, depend on communication (this was before everybody subscribed to the Harvard Business Review), and the non-existing Thai of the Dutch and the poor English of the Thai boy would inevitably lead to a downward relationship spiral that only Han could stop by intervening as a Thai/Dutch interpreter and helping the couple to regain a new level of understanding. I don't know whether Han kept any statistics. Rumor has it he's now divorced.

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