Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bangkok Post: Day 13

After spending the last few days going out and touring the city, it was a much needed rest day for us. I woke up at 1 o'clock in the afternoon after a good tight sleep & spent the afternoon lazing around.

In the evening, we were visited by two Thai ladies, Yooi and Nok, who were mama's colleagues and Pom, mama's secretary. Soon after they made themselves comfortable at home, soda bottles fizzed out and these ladies sat back and started enjoying whiskey. Oh! I forgot to mention; Thai ladies and for that matter men too, start drinking as early as 13-14 years of age. Hardly you will come across any Thai girl who is a non-drinker. Its as common as a green leaf! But even if they drink, they drink responsibly and wont ever get drunk and behave as drunkards. Same applies to Thai men; you hardly come across any drunkard on the streets.

These ladies were surprised after they came to know that I was 22 and I don't drink. Obviously, according to Thai lifestyle, I didn't fit in the drinking scheme of things. After a couple of glasses were drained, we decided to go to a nearby Karaoke Seafood Restaurant. I was about to experience a dinner with Thai people for the first time. And what an experience it was!

The Thai Dinner Experience

Soon after we selected a place at the restaurant, an open air one along the bank of the Chaophraya river, the ladies continued with their whiskey party handing over the bottle they had opened to the waitress. Here I would like to tell something interesting fact about Thai restaurants and joints. They allow you to bring your food if any, other than ordering food there. We had experienced this a couple of times. Also its a common practice here to ask waiters to pack the leftover food after a meal, so that food is not wasted and they could finish it at a later time.

The ladies then placed the order for all of us. One of them was a good singer and she sang many times later that evening, since it was a karaoke restaurant. I took many videos of her singing Thai songs. Soon food was at the table. The menu for the evening consisted of pla kaphong thot (fried kaphong fish in sauce), hoy naang rom sod (raw fresh oysters on ice bed with condiments), kung phat hed (stir fried shrimps with button mushrooms), pla meuk yang (grilled squid with dip), khao paat poo (fried rice with crab meat), tom yam kung (tom yam soup with shrimp), nom mai farang (blanched asparagus in sweet sauce), tofu song kreung (bean curd in Thai spices), salad phonlamai (fruit salad with salad sauce). That was the pool of delicacies we had on the dining table.

Another fact, here seafood and fish is different, as I discovered this evening. Seafood for them consists of squids, lobsters, crabs, prawns, oysters, octopus, etc. Basically the marine food which is not a fish is considered as 'seafood' here and in most parts of south-east Asia. The rest of the evening was spent dining, drinking and singing. It was a good experience for me. In Thai culture, dinner is not just a meal. Dining out for Thai people is no less than an 'event'. Its not just food and people at dining table... it has accompaniments of songs, dance, long talks with it! Our dinner lasted for more than 4 hours (yes...FOUR hours)!!!! Thats quite a time-consuming ordeal compared to Indian standards. But I thoroughly enjoyed every part of the dinner. Here, restaurants don't give a serving spoon with every dish you order, unless you ask for it. Thats because, Thai people use the same spoons, forks and chopsticks with which they eat for serving food from the main dish to their plates. Unlike Indian dinner where we normally don't get up from the table until we finish our course, Thai dining ettiquettes don't include any such customary behaviour. Everyone enjoys dinner in their own way and they don't treat it as something that has to be just finished off and leave. Even the waiters don't disturb you every now and then and even if you just spend time at table, no one looks at you with expecting eyes that have the 'when-will-they-leave' look. I really liked the whole approach of 'enjoying' the dinner in literal sense here.


Anonymous said...

wow....wish indian restaurants too offered such fine dining experience!!!-Sindhu

Viraj said...

I guess you're copying down the names of all those dishes from the Menu Card....Given that its you I'm talking about, that's not entirely impossible...Golly, you could compile a whole dictionary of tongue-twisters with all those names :)

mihirtronics said...

no viraj....thats not the Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V from the menu card. at the time of ordering, I even didn't know the names of the dishes.
The names I have written are only after I asked my mama what we had ordered for the dinner. and then he was the one to tell me the Thai names!!

"Given that its you I'm talking about, that's not entirely impossible..."

Jui Chitre said...

kahi mhan pan mihir tuza mama khup hushar aahe.. he could get u all those names..

mihirtronics said...

ofcourse..he has to!!! otherwise 15 varsha tithe raahun evdha pan yet nahi mhanje..shame shame!!
ha ha...