Sunday, November 12, 2006

Conversations with Vichit

(Here's something I wrote about a while back, it happened a few years ago when I was in Bangkok for work)

Conversations with Vichit

My Driver here in Bangkok has the endearing habit of agreeing wisely and confidently to everything that he hears. Notwithstanding the fact that he can’t understand English at all, and I speak to him in that language.


Y: Vichit?
V: Sir? (pronounced Suuur?)
Y: Vichit, is there any Used Book Store around the hotel?
V: Hotel?
Y: Yes, Queen’s Park hotel.
V: Yes! We go Queen’s Park!
Y: No, no; you know; books? For read? (signalling reading and turning of pages)
V: (Turning head back while driving to observe action) Aah! Book! Yes!
Y: Great! (Sigh of relief). Any Book Shop Near Hotel?
V: Yes, Hotel.
Y: Will you take me there right now?
V: Suur?
Y: To the Book Shop? Now?
V: (Bursts into childish laughter, having misinterpreted this as a huge joke) Yes.

Drives me straight to the hotel, says “Bye Sir! Tomorrow?”

Y: (Defeated) Tomorrow, 8.15, okay?
V: Yes! (Walks away)
(Comes back) Sir?

Y: Yes?
V: Tomorrow 7. 30?
Y: (Deep breathing exercise in session) No. Vichit. Tomorrow. 8. 15. EIGHT. (drawing figure 8). FIFTEEN (Showing an L to represent the hands of the clock, albeit wrong direction from his point of view).
V: Sir?
Y: Vichit! 7.30 TOO EARLY. Eight Fifteen.
V: (Realisation Dawning, and again seeing this as very funny) Hee Hee Hee. Okay, Bye-bye.

Next morning, all refreshed, Y feeling benevolent and chatty, gets into car with Vichit at the wheel.

Y: Vichit?
V: Sir?
Y: (thrown off balance) Vichit. WHY do you call me Sir?
V: Suur? (said along the tune of Hmmm?)
Y: Vichit. You no call me Sir. You call me Lal.
V: Lan?
Y: L-a-l. Lal.
V: (Trying this out) Lan! (Again, sense of humour takes over – peals of tinkly laughter emanate)
Y: Yes, Lan! So, you call me Lan! Okay?
V: Okay!
Y: (knowing this is too good to be true) Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: (Strangulated sounds) That’s what I thought. Never mind.

Evening, Vichit comes to pick up Y. Y, has again forgotten about the self-torture involved in Conversations with Vichit. Tries to find out about the city from Vichit.

Y: Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: (ignoring this) Do most people in Bangkok not speak English?
V: Suur?
Y: English.
V: (Suddenly turning around). You. You-you-you-you-you. Name-you?
Y: (Taken aback) What?
V: (Patiently explaining, realising I probably don’t understand English very well)
I, Vichit. You? Name you?
Y: (mistakenly) Y.... ( first name of ten letters and 4 syllables)
V: Suur?
Y: I mean, Lal. I told you yesterday? L-a-l? Lal? Lan?
V: (Relaxing) Lan. Okay.
(Silence. Y plans not to pursue original line of questioning)
V: I have book!
Y: (Starting) What?
V: Book! Book! For read! English Thai.
Y: That’s great.
V: You learn Thai?
Y: No, not really. No Thai.
V: Okay, you take book, learn Thai. I learn English. (Peals of laughter like wedding bells)

(Takes out book and gives Ywith as much ceremony as possible while driving)

Y: (carefully examining book). Vichit?
V: Suur?
Y: This is in Thai.
V: Yes! English Thai.
Y: No – your script is different from English. I no understand. Cannot read.
V: (Surprised by this fact) No read? (Face shows discernible doubt as to why he’s driving me all over the place and not the other way round)
Y: No read THAI. Read only English.
V: (Crestfallen and not a little disappointed in my narrow-mindedness) Okay. (Accepts book back).

Reaching hotel.

Y: (In pre-emptive mode) Tomorrow 8.15?
V: Yes!
Y: (Warily testing the waters) Tomorrow 7.30?
V: Yes!
Y: NO! Tomorrow 8.15!
V: Okay, bye bye.
Y: (Sighing at prospect of next day and further Conversations with Vichit) Bye bye.

Exit Stage Right.


  1. muahahaha. lalesque -- tooooo faaaa-neeee. welcome to the world of blogging. am really looking forward to this :) when you blogging next? tomorrow, 8:15?

  2. And to think i once mocked ur IT skills!!!! here u are, writing blogs & becoming famous...i rechristen u NETIZEN Y

  3. oh ... and poor vichit .. i wonder what he wrote about you on his blog.

  4. I abso love Vichit now... when ya riding with him again? he shud be waiting for u at the airport.. lan!! no Suuurr... No Vichit, Lan!! am so brain dead...
    One Vichit is all I need...
    see u at 8:15. Yes! at 7:30. Yes! NO!!!!!!!

    Vichit.. u have cocktail?!
    No Vichit, cocktail!
    Tail! Yes I go Tail.
    Vichit - I asked, you drink cocktail?
    Yes, bang..cock.. in bangkok. Tail..No.

  5. Like ganju, I too would love to know what vichit wrote about you in his blog! Shame on you! No Thai? How could you do that to him????

    Now guess who this be.....

  6. OMG! This is too funny. You are an amazing writer, I am bookmarking your blog and will visit regularly to get some great laughter from your style of humor! awesome!

  7. Hahahaha...:D
    Loved your patience with Vichit Surrr...;)
    Beautifully written post..:)

    PS: You might consider me a fool commenting on such an old post, but I just came across your blog through someone's JMPE Contest post. Ordered the book yesterday itself after reading a few latest posts, so while I wait for the actual read I have started reading your blog archives and I love it. Further more excited for the book now..:)


Hi there. Go on, say it. Well? WELL?