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  1. #1
    Old Hand มือเก่า Henson's Avatar
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    About a month ago I posted a link to a Danish TV programme that revolved around a Thai woman living in Denmark who took it upon herself to find husbands for as many women in her family and Thai village as she could. From the pogramme it was obvious that this gave her great satisfaction and she had created a Thai community around her in Denmark that were indebted to her (in a bunkhun sense) and looked upon her as a mother.

    It's funny how close this story is to experiences Mam and I are having. Just the other day Mam was called by an old Thai friend now living in the North of England who had good news to tell her. The news was that she had found a potential husband for my wife's auntie (the only unmarried woman in our closest family) and that she would now set to work building this relationship. The auntie was also a close friend of my wife's friend in Northern England so by doing this she was clearly showing a great deal of naam jai and both my wife and my wife's auntie would be indebted to her for helping out our family thus.
    However, it was clear that my wife had mixed feeling about this favour. Of course, she was glad that her auntie would be helped (as she is in her mid-30s and still unattached) but maybe she felt guilty that it was not her who had found a prospective husband for her auntie/ or maybe she was worried about being indebted like this in her new country - something she hadn't had to worry about before. In any case, my wife would never admit to anything but being happy for her auntie.

    Before Mam relocated to the UK the only other member of her family living in the West was an auntie settled in Norway. Within a few years of this auntie staying there she had also ensured that her sister would be able to come to Norway.
    During the time Mam has spent in the UK her main concern has been to fit in to her new culture. She has Thai friends but compared to her Northern friend she is not at the hub of any Thai community - organising events, having lots of Thai friends come over etc. I don't think my wife will be blamed by her family for not being more proactive in trying to find western partners for her wider Thai family but in a sense I think she may well feel that she has not done enough.

    I just found it interesting to know if members here have experienced anything similar - either a pressure to help out family members thus or the kind of debts such favours by other people entail?

  2. #2
    Old Hand มือเก่า DavidJohn's Avatar
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    Good morning Henson, yes my wife has not yet made any positive moves in this direction but she is always saying she would like to obtain an English husband for her sister. The idea has been in my wife's head for almost three years now but I do not think her sister has ever thought of marrying a farang however.

  3. #3
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Thaddeus's Avatar
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    Naam Jai.... please give me your interpretation of what that means Henson.
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  4. #4
    Old Hand มือเก่า Henson's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Thaddeus:
    Naam Jai.... please give me your interpretation of what that means Henson.
    Naam Jai=Helping other people. This kind of help often indebts (not in a money sense) people to the person doing the favours (bunkhun)

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    Nam Jai (น้ำใจ)
    My interpretation would differ slightly. I am not aware of this having any connection to any feeling of indebtedness or obligation on the part of the person experiencing the "nam jai" of another.

    (น้ำใจ) an example would be when someone makes an effort to remember another person, or perhaps brings a small gift for an employee after a trip abroad. Often translates as an act of common courtesy for example giving up your seat on the bus for an elderly person (or a small child) or letting someone into a line of traffic. It is the understanding that to take into account anothers feelings is a good thing, such small gestures cost nothing and show a true "water heart"

    *some examples taken from Heart Talk by Christopher G Moore. A great book for anyone studying Thai language and culture with over 500 examples of use of "heart words"

  6. #6
    Old Hand มือเก่า Henson's Avatar
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    Guava,

    I bow to your superior learning of Thai language (I certainly cannot claim to know much of it).

    My understanding of the Naam Jai term came from the book Thailand Fever where the authors stress that generosity (naam jai) has to be repaid by those favoured via bunkhun.

    Anyways, my original probe was not so much about the nuances of Thai language as whether people had experiences of how Thais regard such "major favours" as finding husbands for friends and relatives. From the TV programme it seemed to be a major thing and it seemed to fit in with the description of Thai culture in Thailand Fever where such favours determine a lot about social hierarchies etc.

  7. #7
    Forum Dinosaur ไดโนเสาร์ Thaddeus's Avatar
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    That's why I asked Henson, my understanding of 'water heart' is that it is a gift given freely, no debt is incurred and nothing is expected in return.

    That's the language lesson over.

    The grim reality of gratitude for most (I stress the word most) people in my experience, is that the gratitude is minimal and very short lived.... once some one, anyone, ceases to be useful, they drop off the radar scope very quickly.


    Did you notice I used the word 'people' and not 'Thais'

    It's a universal truth I'm afraid.
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