Tesco Lotus is a Thai superstore with everything you could ever want, and a bucket of chicken. Inside this Thai Walmart look-a-like, next to the KFC, is a Hot Pot Buffet. I think there are places like this in the U.S. but I hadn't encountered one there and very much enjoyed my first time! In the middle of every table is a huge boiling pot of water. The idea is to put as many different raw ingredients into the pot and let the water cook it, then...enjoy!
After significantly stuffing myself,I headed for my favorite part of any meal, dessert...
An impatient boy, noticeably overweight, waited next to me as I scooped ice cream. I was having a considerably difficult time of it, my favorite ice cream was rock hard and the carton was nearly empty.
The boy's eagerness escalated as he waited. His hand on the corner of the freezer, his hot breath on my arm, and his hovering were crowding my space. In frustration, I am ashamed to have thought, "Geez! You can afford to wait a second, you don't need another bowl of ice cream anyway." His haste proved too much for me and I took what little ice cream I had in my bowl back to the table.
As I greedily stuffed the last bite in my mouth, I turned to see the same boy shuffling hurriedly to feast on his giant bowl of ice cream. With an wide smile and a bow, he set that giant bowl of ice cream in front of his mother and happily sat down with nothing.
This gesture is, for me, a picture of Thai culture. It is the Thai way to give, and to expect nothing in return. That little boy was so excited to please someone else, to give something to someone else. He had labored with that rock hard ice cream long enough to get a big bowl for his mother. He didn't talk of the struggle he faced getting it, as I believe most American children would. He set it down with a smile and a bow, not a proud little boyish grin at the thought of brownie points. In fascination I watched this boy then brought his father and grandfather cakes and cookies, still eating nothing himself.
People speak of Thai generosity and kindness, but it took a little boy at Tesco to truly understand.