LEADERS - not followers

Sunday, March 30, 2008

TOP prompt - Regional poetry

North/South Divide

“If you stay long time in Thailand,
You must to learn speak Thai
If you want happy ending
No promplem; just sabai, sabai.

Thai lady speak good English
When learn so high, at school.
She very like your rangwedge
And have jai yen – that’s ‘cool’.

She have good teacher Angkrit,
Up-country, in Isan.
Not only khao nieow – ‘sticky rice’,
Also 'homework' – that’s karn barn.”

“I understand you, clearly,
But here’s what’s wrong with you.
You say things back-to-front, e.g.
For ‘your friend’, you say, ‘my friend you’.

Now, here’s what I learnt, just this week,
But something is amiss
You never explained that Isan and Thai
Are different. Look at this!

I’ll say the Isan version first,
And then translate, to Thai.
You’ll see just what my problem is,
But can you explain why?

Khop khun lai derr, means khop kuhn krap,
Bo penyang dor, means mai pen rai.
Koi mark chao, that means pom rak khun
Chao si pai sai, is kuhn ja pai nai?

Thank-you very much, never mind,
I love you, where are you going?
Mai mi pen har; no problem,
My Thai has started flowing!”

North/South Divide II

Show me the way, I think I’m lost
Someone give me some direction
I’m prepared to pay any cost
Just to reach my destination

Co-ordinates were very crude
Maps helped me out to some degree
What’s longitude and latitude?
All points north are clear to see

But it was south I headed for
A to Z index underneath
The maps I’d spread out on the floor
Drawn to scale; some in relief

My compass wouldn’t save the day
It lost me before I started
I couldn’t read it anyway
My route was not clearly charted

I found an ethnic take-away
I bought a curry and some rice
Sat down, ate it, couldn’t say
I liked the meal; it wasn’t nice

I chose the route I thought was best
The taste of the east was in my mouth
My confidence was going west
My northern mistrust of the south

Made me question my instruction
It’s never taken me this long
Usually there’s no disruption
This time something was going wrong

I saw a note for my attention
Opened it up and had to stare
Somebody forgot to mention
‘Thomas Place’ is now ‘Thomas Square’

Those ‘nice’ Southerners were to blame
Not the team back at the depot
Why did they have to change the name?
Just so Northerners couldn’t go?


  1. Hi Stan,
    Really liked these especially the Thai/Isan conversation!

  2. all lovely,, but i especially enjoyed the first two... the wonders of lingual differences never cease to amaze me,, and i applaud your ability to speak in more than one tongue.....

  3. And underneath... Very nice work! Enjoyed the read - each time! :)

  4. Thanks to;
    andy; Attitude v Affluence. I think its a regional characteristic in all countries.
    paisley; Dialects identify origins, sometimes its not appreciated so much.
    tumblewords; Two experiences of cultural differences.(I) is Thailand, (II) is England.

  5. Enjoyed the apparent idiosyncracies when dialects are compared.

    But especially loved the "innocence" of the Thai exchange.


  6. Thanks Gemma (grayscale territory);
    Dialects and accents always leave you guessing. Similar words often mean something totally different. Kept it simple, but the Thai's attempt at English is pretty accurate.