No more slippers – I now cook in my bikini, and I’ll admit that I don’t always wash the dishes in hot water. I can’t remember the last time I soaked in the bath – a quick shower after getting back from the beach is now the norm.
My hubby has become an expert at opening a young coconut. He also knows the exact amount of drinking water we get through on a daily basis, and we stock up in serious bulk. Our fridge is full of the sweetest tasting mangoes, mangosteens, morning glory, and the soy milk that finally passed our taste (and sugar limitation) trials.
I miss avocados (the best food on earth), hummus, falafels, and the ease of Fry’s when needing to whip up a quick meal for our tot. Now I batter and panko crumb tofu pieces and do a dance of joy when she takes a bite of my makeshift nuggets. The few minutes my husband regularly spends watching a grumpy lady cook up 50 Baht dishes for our take-away lunches has inspired his signature dish; stir-fried garlic and chilli greens. Sitting on rice we proudly make in our own rice cooker, and topped with my tofu bites, it’s a dish we can’t get enough of.
I miss my oven – and sometimes I even roast potatoes and veggies, cook a lasagne, or bake a cake in my dreams! And I miss my dishwasher. I don’t miss the TV, even though I know I’m behind on all the shows I was half way through. I don’t miss the ‘better take a jumper and umbrella, just in case’ UK weather, even at those moments when I’m under a tin roof in the middle of a fanless market, and am literally melting. I miss my cats – terribly and guiltily. And my family and friends.
If we cook at home for a couple of days without eating out (because our shopping trips are now so much more fruitful than the first one), I crave a som tum (spicy green papaya salad) and pad see ew (dark soy fried noodles), and our little tot even asks for rice (pretty much still the extent of her Thai food palate) and then shovels fistfuls of it into her mouth!
She’s also become a bit too accustomed to eating out and thinking she can just request whatever she wants (which is always some form of potato)! We regularly sit down at a restaurant and she asks the waiter / waitress for “patoes” or “chips, peese” (at which point I know the flask of healthy, home cooked food I’ve brought along isn’t going to be received as favourably as I’d hoped!)
She has been able to say (her version of) “sawadee ka” (hello) and “kopon ka” (thank you) for a while now, but still hasn’t got used to people exuberantly wanting to touch her. She remarks when we step out of the house and it’s hotter than usual, has a fan radar, points out every sign for “elephant beer” (Chang), and can spot Buddha in any form.
She makes friends wherever we go – with restaurant cats or kids of any age. The little pad and crayons I keep in my bag has proven to be a good ice breaker (that also transcends language barriers), as she’s learnt that handing her crayons out and getting new friends to draw is far more fun than possessively holding onto them. She also talks regularly about the people we left behind, even if she doesn’t understand the concept of missing yet.
I guess being away from a life and routines you once breezed through without thinking, and stepping into a whole new world that takes time to discover and get used to, highlights the good you left behind and the good you’ve just uncovered. And lots of lucky stars need to be counted!