Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thai names....

An unfortunate Thai name

Someone asked how I got my Thai nickname. It is a very nice story and it's Sunday morning. The coffee's good so ~ why not? :)

I met Deng while we were working a temp job three years ago at a mortgage company. Our job was to go in at 5.00 AM and get all the orders processed through the computer. We got a system going and were usually done in an hour or so. We would alternate days being late and often had a lot of time to sit around talking. We just happened to hit it off pretty well and although he knew I was a devoted Thaiphile, we often didn't talk about that subject. We talked music, books, politics and religion. Our views were fairly compatible on all of those things. Once in a while, we'd get on the topic of Thailand and Thai culture. Deng was born here but his parents are from Thailand. He really did teach me a lot.

Although we are in a different age range, I got to know him and his girlfriend Staci quite well. We would get together for lunch now and then. Deng is a bright guy and is fairly well-entrenched in the way of life here. There's no way I will ever convince him differently, nor would I try. But just the same, I think he was flattered by the fact that I treasure his parents' homeland as much as I do.

A few years ago, he called me and said that he and Staci wanted to take me to lunch for my birthday. I'd forgotten that I even told him my birthday, let alone think I would get a call from him!

We got together at a local restaurant (not Thai) and had lunch. Finally, he held up a card. He told me that before I opened it, he wanted to explain something. He went on to tell me that he knows how much I honor Thai culture, try to live it, have internalized it and joked that I might possibly be "more Thai than I am".

He told me that he wanted to give me a Thai name, chosen in the traditional way.

The traditional way of choosing names involves the birthdate and the day of birth. I was born on a Saturday. According to tradition, there are certain letters that should be present in the name in order to bring good luck and good health. Those letters are particular to the day of birth. Each name does mean something. Ordinarily, this would be done by a monk. Deng did not use a monk but said, "one of my uncles did it".

He took out a piece of paper and showed me the letters that I am supposed to use. He showed me a few names that included those letters. The deal was that he would choose though, not me. "I thought about this for a long time. It is a big responsibility."

I realized at that point that he considers himself to be my brother. Males in Thai society consider themselves to be protectors. Even if they are younger, they still assume a certain position. Quite different than here ~ but that's how they do things.

After he explained all of this, he gave me the card and told me the name was inside. I looked at him long and hard, told him that it better not be a name that means "good at cleaning pig pens" or "the ugly duck." He laughed and said that was not the case.

I opened the card and looked at the name. He'd written it in Thai, in English and put the meaning below. It means "darling of all people."

I take it quite seriously, too, although I doubt I will ever do a legal change. Frankly, it would be too much of a hassle, considering all the stuff that would require changing. Additionally, it would not go well with my very German last name. Still, I do treasure it because I believe it was done in a true spirit of friendship.

Peace to all,

Thailand Gal



jenlemen said...

oh, that is the sweetest thing ever. i am not sure things get more loving than that. blessings on your thai brother and you for meriting such a lovely name.

Lucia said...

What a lovely way of getting a name!

Love the picture. I'm always on the lookout for this sort of thing, and fortunately, when traveling, it's not very hard to find.

Cuppa said...

Hi TG. Just a note to say thanks for stopping by to say hello. It is always nice to "see" a new face.

"darling of all people" - what an honour to be given a name like that. A heart warming birthday gift indeed.

I have enjoyed reading your blog and will be back again.

Leann said...

hi doesn,t take much to change your name if you would like.I did it 3 years takes 100 dollors and some papers signed.I changed my middle was lucille and I hated I got it changed to leann.lucille stands for luck and the Lord doesn,t have luck in his word,He uses "blessings".leann stands for "poetic"{Irish gaelic}{old English}"from the pasture meadow."now since Iam a farmers daughter and ran the meadows and fields on the farm,Leann fit me perfectly.and the Lord has given me alot of now I have a name that fits me better.Thailand is a lovely friend was there in the war.he said the people and the country was awesome.I have only seen it on the discovery channel.some day i would love to go there.have a good day.

jen said...

what a perfect way to be renamed. and an honor to have someone do that from his heart. love it.

patsy said...

the thing about the haggard deal as i see it he did all he could to make the homosexuals a 2nd. class while he had the same sexual perference. i am not a homosexual and i really don't understand people who are but i have better things to do than going around trying to gay bash! anytime people devote all their lives to hurting people who are different than themselves need to pay more attention to their own lives.

Thailand Gal said...

Jenlemen, thanks. :) I honestly don't think they do get more loving. It was such a kind thing for him to do, to think of me that way. I never cease to be amazed at the way I have been accepted and embraced by Thai people, here and in Thailand. It affirms for me that it truly is home.

Lucia, isn't that the funniest picture? When I was over there, I was always noticing things like that. I'd nearly die laughing!

Cuppa, thanks for coming by. :) It was definitely one of the more meaningful birthday gifts I've ever received. Deng would never know this but when we were done with lunch, I went to my car and cried like a baby. :)

Thanks for the information, Leann. Leann is a lovely name! If my gut ever tells me it's right, I will change mine. I'm so lazy about bureaucratic issues that I never even changed my name after my divorce. :)

Jen, it was perfect ~ in so many ways.

Patsy, I'm not gay but am very sensitive to their issues since someone who matters very much to me, several someones over the past 20 years, happen to be gay. That aside though, I believe in inclusion. No one should be shunned or hated by the community simply for being who they are. Karma is a funny thing ~ and those who invest their energy in hate will inevitably draw it back. Hope you will drop by again. :)

Peace all,

Thailand Gal

meno said...

Well, that is a lovely story and it shows that love comes in many forms. Because i think that was an act of love, brotherly love. Sweet.

Pam said...

How beautiful, to have your name mean so much!

As to your comment on hate and karma, I couldn't agree more.

Gobody said...

A very beautiful name; you must mean a lot to that man that he chooses such a name for you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It's a beautiful thing to earn a name, especially such a marvelous one.

You can use it when you move to Thailand, even if it isn't your legal name.

You have a most interesting blog. I'll be back.