Saturday, 26 January 2008

Colour Culture

Last night we were eating our evening meal when our rather eloquent waiter stopped for a chat once more.

He always wore great Thai pants, which were subtle in colour and individual in pattern. Paul had taken a liking to them and was trying to find out how he could get hold of some. Our friend told us that his cousin makes them and that he would bring a selection in for Paul to choose from.

“No pink ones!” we joked...

“Ahhh – no, no! No pink ones!” our friendly waiter replied.

One of our friends from England was also dining with us that evening. “In England, if a man wears pink, people think, little bit gay!” he said. “Same, same in Thailand?”

“No!” replied our waiter.

We chatted for a while about why it is that we associate pink with the feminine in England. We reached the quite obvious conclusion, that it was likely due to the fact that when babies are born we immediately surround them with objects and clothes of colours to match their sex – pink for girls, blue for boys. At a very early age we are subconsciously brain washed into associating pink with the feminine and blue for the masculine. We decided that different colours for each sex must have come about out of necessity - so that people could easily identify what sex a baby is – after all – they quite often all look the same when they are born (unless they are naked of course!).

Our waiter informed us that in Thailand, there was no colour associated to a particular sex at child birth; instead the girls’ clothes are more frilly and decorative than the males’.

“We only really have one colour that means something for man in Thailand” added our friendly waiter. He picked up a pen with a purple lid and pointed to it. “What colour you call this?” he asked.

“Purple!” we all called out together, as if we’d just pipped our competition to the post in a University challenge type TV quiz..

“Ahhhh! Purple!” he nods.

“In Thailand, if man wear purple it means he is – how you say – divorced? Or with no wife – orr??” he circles his arms trying to encourage us to find the words he is looking for.

“Single? Available? Batchelor?” I guessed – keen to win the next university challenge points.

“Yes. Yes!” he laughs. “Awailable!” the Thais have difficulty pronouncing V’s, and they often sound like w’s.

“No purple Thai pants for Paul!” I had the last word before our waiter laughed and strolled off to serve someone else.

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