The normal things of life we experience every day sometimes make me laugh. For a year now we have lived in this same house, and taken the same route to and from Thai class every day. That route leads us on a sidewalk that runs along a small canal. Dozens of families live in very humble houses along our little canal. One middle aged-woman, missing most of her front teeth, has taken an interest in us and starts a conversation with us every time we walk by. The thing is, the conversation is pretty much always the same – at least on her end…

The Khlong

Eh…where are you going? If Iven isn’t with me: “Why are you alone?  Where is your boyfriend?” And of course the age-old greeting: “Have you eaten rice yet?” Over these months of answering the same questions, usually twice a day every day, I feel a bit like I’m a character from Monty Python’s “Quest for the Holy Grail” – remember the scene? There is a bridge that journeyers must pass and there is a sorcerer guy that guards the bridge. In order to cross the bridge they must answer correctly three questions: “What is your name?”, “What is your quest? “, “What is your favorite color?”. A moment’s hesitation leads to a zap from a magic staff followed by sudden death.  Usually my answers are the same: “I am going to study Thai” or “I am coming back from studying Thai”. Easy enough. But…when my journey differs from the usual destination I find myself having a mild panic attack… “I am going to the market” or “to visit a friend” is simple enough, but what about “I’m going to the city to pray and talk to men who are working on the streets”?? Even with the simple answers I find myself thrown, like the man in “The Holy Grail” who took too long to answer correctly what his favorite color was. My rational brain doesn’t expect the woman to pull out a staff and send me flying into the canal for saying I am going to the market when I am actually going to the post office, but it still makes me sweat a little more than I already have to.