“Past tense, present tense, future tense, even past perfect and present perfect! I don’t get it, why are foreigner so obsessed with time?”
These are the words of my frustrated 16 year old Thai sister Pim, as Laura and I attempt to prep her for her upcoming English exam. We sit at the dining room table, dishes pushed to the side, books spread out before us, suffocating both the table and Pim with English verbs, nouns, adjectives, and of course, those dreaded tenses.
I have no answer for Pim, who struggles to master a concept nonexistent in her own language. Yet it’s more than this, it’s not just the Thai language the paranoia with time is devoid of, it seems to be the culture here in Thailand as well. During one of our first lectures here in Thailand, our Aa-jaan (professor) spoke of the way in which Thai people do many things at a slower pace of life than the rest of the world; placing less emphasis on deadlines and meetings than us in the Western hemisphere. Perhaps this is due to the heat in Thailand, a stalwart attempt to remain cool despite a very strong and persistent sun that calls the sweat out of your body like a bingo announcer on redbull, but perhaps this slower pace of life is also due to the lack of past, present, and future tenses in the Thai language.
…I think I like this startling lack of time… in fact, it’s quite refreshing. Bring it on Thailand, let’s live in the now!