This week, I'll be talking about various weird things that have happened to me in Thailand.
1) The other day one of my coworkers handed me a small circular fruit that looked like a green kumquat. I thanked her, and popped it in my mouth. This fruit tasted like cyanide, but I just grinned and nodded, feigning an "mmm" noise. I try to be nice, and not react negatively when someone offers me something. My face must have betrayed my feelings, as everyone was laughing at me. I look over to the fruit giver and she motions to peel the fruit. I head to the back and spit up the disgusting rind.
My mouth tasted like Draino for the next 15 minutes.
2) My apartment complex has a dry cleaner on the first floor. I went down there to get my clothes dry cleaned, and after some difficult communication, I felt like I had succeeded in conveying my point. The person who works there looks at me and says "your loom?" Now, I wasn't totally sure what she was going to do with a loom. If I recalled properly from history class, a loom is an archaic tool for making textiles. What in the world could she want with a loom? Was she going to create new shirts for me from scratch? Why did she need my loom? Didn't she already have one? How much does a loom cost? Eventually I figured out she wanted to know my ROOM #, but it took longer than it should have.
3) I headed to class one day, and everyone was standing outside. I start yelling and gesturing for them to go in when a teacher comes up to me. "New class. A cat died and there is lice," she says. I look at her, and come in closer. "What?!" I say. She repeats what she said and looks at me like I'm stupid. So I'm standing there completely motionless and focusing all my energy on understanding what she meant. Drawing from previous experience, I think maybe she didn't mean lice, she meant rice. That didn't make any more sense. Luckily she recognizes the confusion on my face, and takes me to the English office where there's a teacher who is fluent in both Thai and English. He tells me that a cat died in the classroom and it had lice, so we can't go in there. It took a while for me to grasp that I was right the whole time, and I wondered how the hell a dying cat could get on the second floor and into my classroom. My brain can't understand a lot of things that happen here in Thailand, so oftentimes I just have to accept that they happen and not ask myself why.
4) If students are not doing what I tell them to, I proceed to beat them with the chalkboard eraser. This acts as a motivator, because the erasers are never cleaned, and a student will quickly look like Ashy Larry without his lotion. It's also very entertaining for me.
5) Sometimes if everyone is paying very close attention to their work, or practicing dialogues diligently, I will sneak to the back and scream "HEY" at the top of my lungs. This makes sure the students are always on edge, while also keeping me entertained. My record is getting 8 girls to jump out of their seats.
6) The first week of school, I asked each class who the strongest person in class was. When they agreed on a person, I brought them to the front of the class and arm wrestled them. I believe I successfully displayed my dominance over the students. Also I hurt my shoulder.
7) I've been testing my power over the children by teaching them prepositions. So far, they will run around a chair, climb on each other, and even stick their fingers in their nose. My power stops at telling them to jump out the window. They just won't do it.
8) All of the boys love to shake my hand. The traditional Thai greeting is to place your palms together in front of you and bow your head. They seem to think the hand shake is fun and exciting. However, I can't go around shaking every damn kid's hand all day, so I attempt to crush each little hand that is extended towards me. Interestingly enough, they seem to find this more fun than a normal, non-crushing hand shake.
9) Whenever I walk anywhere around school, I am constantly subject to calls of "TEACHER, TEACHER!" I look where the noise is coming from, and scream "WHAT!?" back to the students. They never seem have anything important to communicate to me other than "Hi", "Good afternoon", or "I love you".
I don't know what this thing is called. I didn't totally understand what it was for, and when I found out, I didn't like it. This is a hand held ass-cleaning squirt gun. It's the preferred method of removing traces of fecal matter from the part of the body used to moon things. When I first saw it, I laughed and laughed and laughed. There was not a chance in hell I would ever use it. A few days later, my roommate had used all the toilet paper. I didn't know this until I had already finished the deed. I took a deep breath, and went for it. Sure the floor ended up soaked and I cried a few unmanly tears, but I had a clean (though wet) butt.
These things are actually pretty decent once you get over your totally rational fear of them. Just make sure you don't use a super powerful one. You'll definitely get an enema.
11) The school system in Thailand is WAY different than America. Here, you can kind of just do whatever you want. Everyone passes, so why do extra stuff if you don't want to? That means there is a constant buzz of people chatting, others have their phones out playing games, and some are just taking a nice nap. There are a few ways I deal with these things. Talking people may be beaten with an eraser. Sometimes I work on "pronunciation" which means I scream a word and have the class scream it back. The class as a whole is loud enough to disrupt any conversation, so it quiets them down for about 10 seconds. If they're playing games, I sneak up behind them and snatch the phone away. I know how to play a lot of these games, so I'll go to the store in the game and spend all their money on worthless stuff. People sleeping in class get things stuck in their ears.
They have a drink that they are marketing directly to my inflated ego. It tastes like grapes and has a bunch of collagen in it.
I guess this box of orange juice is equivalent to 24 apples? I though you couldn't compare them...
14) My classes don't have air conditioning. Some of them don't even have doors, and none of them are completely closed off. As a result I start feeling like Vegeta training in the 400x gravity.
I will get completely soaked with sweat over the course of a period. Not only am I wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a tie, it's also a hundred degrees and 200% humidity. I've accidentally sweat on a bunch of kids and whatever is on their desk. When the kids see my misery, they look at me with superior little smiles on their faces. On more that one occasion I've had students look at me smugly and said "Teacher, Thailand hot." Initially, I'd reply with a smile and say "Yes, Thailand is very hot." Now I just wring my shirt out on their heads (not really).
15) On the first day of each of my classes, I'd write my name out on the board and say it. They would reply by saying my name back. I'd say it again, and they'd say it again. Soon they'd all be chanting my name. I'd start running across the room, pumping my fists in the air as a group of 50 Asian children cheered me on. All my classes found this amusing, but it had unwanted repercussions. All over campus, random kids would just start shouting my name whenever I walked by.
16) I teach 18 different classes over the course of a week, seeing each class only once. After teaching the same lesson for 10 hours, you start to go into autopilot mode, and everything blends together. When I get to this point, something odd happens. I start to imagining that some kids are coming to my lessons twice in one week. I don't know why they would do this. I'm not totally sure why I think this, but I've narrowed it down to a couple of potential reasons. 1) The kids love my lessons so much that they ditch other classes to come to mine (not likely). 2) The constant drone of teaching the same thing has dulled my senses and forced me to hallucinate (likely). 3) I'm a big racist, and all these damn kids look the same (hopefully not likely).
This issue came to a head when I left a class and one of the girls yelled, "Goodbye teacher!" I walked two classes down, and I hear a "Hello teacher!" coming from inside. I look over, and there is the same girl. AGAIN! I figured I was at the nexus of the universe, but then it dawned on me. There are twins and siblings in my classes! It all makes sense now. I'm not racist!
17) There's a big fad over here to wear colored contacts. It's a little creepy seeing these Thai girls with bright blue eyes. The weirder thing is when they wear ones that make their iris huge. I don't understand why they do it. It makes them look soulless. There's something about covering your eyes with something fake that makes you look less than human. It's seriously freaky.
There are more, but once again I have more to say than I have will to say it.