I meet a man from the Ivory Coast, pulled over at the side of my road, lost, and looking for a bar called “Feel Good”.
“Can I cross the road and talk to you?” he asks…
He plays on the local football team and speaks Thai. He teaches me all the greetings I need to know, and, as we walk, he makes me repeat them. Over and over. We role-play our dialogue. Hello. How are you? Have you eaten yet? Yes, I have eaten. What have you eaten? I have eaten rice. No, I haven’t eaten yet. Thank you. Sorry. Why? What? Want. No. Water. It’s exactly what I need to know. It’s exactly what I need.
He tells me no-one realises he can understand them, “why would you think that no-one around you can understand Thai?” he says, and shakes his head. He looks away from me. “What do you hear?” I ask? “Nothing good” he replies, “nothing ever any good”.