I never thought I would ever end up writing to an agony column for advice. My problem comes from the fact that I cannot speak Thai. I have been here for almost one year and have had a live-in girlfriend for the past seven months. The problem I have is with the telephone. She just doesn’t hear it! Honestly, Hillary, I can be in the shower and it will ring and ring and ring and Noi never picks it up, and when I say why not, she just shrugs her shoulders and walks off. Is this normal behavior for Thai girls? She hears people speaking OK so it’s not as if she’s really deaf. Tell me Hillary, should I take her for treatment or what?
Dear Alexander (Bell?),
See what you started! Now then about Noi’s little problem and your big problem (with Noi’s little problem). Thai people very often do not hear telephones. They are not at all deaf, it is just that they don’t want to hear it, so they don’t. This is particularly so if their English is not too good, as they do not want to show that they cannot ‘poot Angkrit geng’. All you can do is to tell her that you want her to answer the telephone if you cannot get there first, and then just tell the caller to ‘sakru kha’ and then come and get you. Best of luck!