I have been wanting to write something about Thai etiquette for a while but never knew how to approach it. I will touch on two things that I am certain of, and feelings regarding breaches to etiquette that I have unknowingly experienced before. The head and the feet.
Even as a little girl I disliked people playing with my hair, or touching me on the head. Though I tolerated it, I always got this weird sensation when someone did. As I got older when people tapped me on the head I immediately had this feeling of disgust. It was not until later that I discovered that the touching of ones head is a real no-no in Thailand and for Thai people/people in Thailand. You see, the head is the highest part of a person’s body. This is taken literally and figuratively in Thailand. My mother thinks that my immediate defensive reaction to my head being touched is because it is something that has always been with me in the back of my mind being a Thai person. Though I don’t react to it as much as others may, mostly because I’ve accepted it as an OK act in western culture, it still gives me uneasy feelings. So it shows, we can be born with and taught to accept cultural habits at an early age, that constantly stick with us even if we are taken out of that environment, and though we may not know where they come from, they are always there.
The feet are the lowest part of the body. Because of this, it is rude to point at anything with your feet. Or to stick your feet on tables. I don’t know why, by while I am guilty of sometimes unknowingly pointing my feet at objects or people I get absolutely disgusted when people put their feet on tables. It drives me crazy! My friends sometimes think I am crazy. Of course, how do you describe this to anyone else who doesn’t know the culture?
The Head and the Feet rules make sense when you think about it. They have to do with respect. And living in Canada I realize how little we consider these little things that really should be paid attention to more often, we can get away with being disrespectful because it is the norm. Why would you smother someone’s head? Why would you stick your dirty feet on the table? It is common sense; though it may not be common, it is still sense that should be embraced if you’re lucky to have it.
Some things to consider.
Now pardon me while I wipe the sand off the living room coffee table, here in Florida. 🙂