Rude, you say?

In America, it’s rude not to call or respond to emails within 24 hour (casual chats aside).

In Thailand it’s rude to demand a response.

In America, since I turned 18 I have called 98% of my friends and professional acquaintances by their first name. This includes most of my professors.

In Thailand, everyone older than me is given the title of “Pei” [pee] – older brother/sister. If someone is purely a business associate (I.e. my client), we call them “Kuhn” – sir, mister.

In America, other than close friends, I only touch people on the shoulder or arm.

In Thailand, my coworkers and anyone who darnwell pleases/met me 5 minutes ago, will hold my arm,  squeeze my shoulder, rest their hand on my back, guide me with a hand around my waist, feel my stomach, pat my thighs, touch my exposed calves as if they were my forearm and pull me by the hand.

In America, we shake hands and hug if we are friends or becoming friends (or at least that’s what my circle does).

In Thailand, we wei and then we wei again. My church friends and sister hug me, though, if not other Thais.

In America, if we’re friends, flirting or I just like your hair, I might touch it and play with it.

In Thailand, touching someone’s head is the greatest sign of disrespect possible.

In America, feet have no meaning. I just hope yours don’t smell!

In Thailand, showing the bottoms of your feet is a huge insult.

In America, asking someone over the age of 30 their age is a bit taboo. It’s not exactly RUDE (right?), it’s just kind of inappropriate and insensetive. Some people wont even tell you their age.

In Thailand, age is very important as it helps denotes status. Everyone knows everyone else’s age upon first meeting, so you can establish who calls who “Pei”.

In America someone who is overweight is, “Big”, “Large”, “a bit chubby” and the gentle hints continue. “Not that bad”, “maybe gained a bit”, is looking a little soft. “Fat” is a very rude term, at least used in-person.

In Thailand, fat is fat and there’s no reason to beat around the Bush. Stop eating so much! Unfortunately, if you don’t want to be categorized as fat, you must be a size zero and bordering on anorexia.

See? Rudeness is utterly relative.


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