How about a funny story about cultural differences at my expense?
So I’ve been back in Bangkok for about a week after our trip to the south right? And my stomach since coming back to Bangkok, though perfectly fine while living with the sea gypsies in their tiny huts, has been far less than fine since coming back. I spent one full night throwing up and several portions of the following four days in the bathroom with seemingly never-ending problems at the other end of things. Well, in America, this wouldn’t exactly be something that you would announce to the world – close friends ok, but we surely wouldn’t let everybody in our problems.
That doesn’t work here.
I’m staying with some of my Thai CCC friends in a house just north of Bangkok, so they obviously knew about my problems – well, let’s just say it – my diarrhea. At the prayer meeting at church that next night they announced it to all – so that all of the church would pray for my diarrhea. Then, they also told all of the other 50 or Thai CCC staff living in Bangkok, so they would pray for my diarrhea and then all of those people probably told all of their families and the stray dogs on the street who are about to become lunch for someone (just kidding) and everybody else under the sun. So much so that every single person that knows me at all here, regardless of how well we truly know each other, has come up to me over the last few days and the first words out of their mouth infallibly are: how is your diahhrea? The next phrase after that one – (and i must warn you this will be a little more graphic, but so that you’ll see the true differences cultures i must continue) – and i’ll translate as literally as possible – is your poo soft or hard?
Yes, I know it’s gross, but here – they say it without a thought of being uncouth – it is just an honest question that is part of every day conversation. As a matter of fact, a few days into my illness, I ventured out on campus to meet some of the young students who are involved with the CCC ministry now. As I was introduced to several students for the first time, the introductions went like this: “”Student So-and-So, this is Matt. He has runny diarrhea.”” Yes really. Not, “”This is Matt, he was a missionary here for two years and just came back,”” or “”This is Matt – he loves Thailand and wants to meet some of our current student leaders.”” Nope, “”This is Matt, and he has runny diarrhea.””
I can’t help but laugh every time. Thailand is a country that if you’re not laid back before you get here, you’ll either get that way or go crazy. I think I’m good to go. I’m just curious who’ll be the first one of you all to ask me after I get back, “”Hey Matt! Great to see you! How’s your runny diarrhea?””