For my second interview, I was really pleased to interview Katherine Tosi from the Bangkok Post who writes the "Kat's Window on Thailand" column for their web site. She comes from America and has been living in Thailand for about 2 years.
Kat's Window on Thailand shows daily life in Thailand through the eyes of a curious westerner trying to sort out the meaning of it all. From the frustrated beginnings of settling down in Bangkok to the end result of never wanting to leave, "Kat's Window on Thailand" provides comical narratives that put you on the inside track to the confusion, beauty, and mystery of life in Thailand.
PANRIT: Can you please introduce yourself first?
KAT: My name is Kat. I am American. I am 31 years old and I have been living in Thailand for about two years.
PANRIT: Why did you come to Thailand?
KAT: I am married to a Swiss man and he got transferred here with his job. But I was very happy to come to Thailand.
PANRIT: What did you know about Thailand before you came here?
KAT: Not as much as I should have. I knew that it had jungles and that it was in Asia and that people spoke Thai and that it had spicy food and a special kind of dancing.
PANRIT: So, at first you thought there was a lot of jungle in Thailand?
KAT: I thought of tropical forests and I also thought of elephants. I wanted to learn more so that was one of the reasons I came.
PANRIT: What did you do before you got a job at Bangkok Post?
KAT: I was an English teacher for about 6 or 7 years, both in America and in Switzerland.
NATTAWUD: How did you get a job at Bangkok Post?
KAT: I saw the advertisement in the newspaper and I thought "I can do that". So, I just applied.
PANRIT: Was it difficult when you started working?
KAT: It is definitely a different culture to work in. I think in Europe and American people have more stress and they tend to do things more quickly and are just more serious. So, at first when I saw people laughing and having fun and taking it more easy, I was confused. Then I realised that it was really a good way to be at work and that work could be more fun.
PANRIT: Why did you call your column "Kat's window"?
KAT: I just spent a lot of time looking at the things around me and I was spending a lot of time by myself. I was in a completely foreign culture and so just to entertain myself I would just sit and watch, sit and watch and sit and watch. I was always entertaining myself in my own mind.
PANRIT: Do you enjoy working on it?
KAT: Oh yes, I do. I probably take it a little too seriously. I receive a lot of e-mail from all different countries. Most of it is really nice and I enjoy that very much. But, some of it is really mean and very nasty and sometimes it is hard not to take it personally.
PANRIT: I have read some of your stories. You are a good writer, have you ever thought about making a book?
KAT: That would kind of just be a dream in the back of my head. I always enjoy writing but believe it or not I am kind of a shy person about sharing my writing and so when I think about a book I would probably get even more scared or nervous.
PANRIT: Do you work on it alone? No help from others?
KAT: I am a really lucky person because when I moved here I met a Swiss man who has lived here for 15 years. So, he knows Thailand and he can speak Thai. He's my friend. So, he's the person that showed me the real Thailand. Probably if I didn't meet someone who could show me what Thailand really is, not just the Grand Palace or Patpong or a hotel or a beach, then I don't think I would be happy here.
PANRIT: Your Swiss friend can speak Thai, what about you?
KAT: Just enough to get around, get some food, get directions and try to be polite. But, unfortunately not enough.
PANRIT: For example?
KAT: "Pad Thai Jae", yeah everything "jae" because I am a vegetarian. And "leo sai" and "leo kwa" for turn left and right.
PANRIT: Do you think it's useful to know Thai before you come to Thailand?
KAT: I tried to study Thai in Switzerland but I think if you are so removed from the culture it's not important enough for you to learn. And now that I work in an English speaking newspaper, people are speaking English all the time, so I need to hear more Thai to help me learn it better.
PANRIT: Do you miss the Western way of life?
KAT: Sometimes. I miss the changing of the seasons and sometimes I really miss a special kind of food and sometimes when I watch the movies and it is in America I want to call my mother.
PANRIT: Do you have a servant?
KAT: Yes, actually my husband is here on a contract so we have a really wonderful Thai family. A husband and a wife and their two children. But, I don't look at them as servants, I look at them as people.
PANRIT: Do you have any language problems?
KAT: Oh yes. Yes, yes, yes. If I am doing a really difficult interview I will use a translator.
PANRIT: I know that you went to the dentist yesterday, what is that like compared to your country?
KAT: Much cheaper!
PANRIT: Will you stay here all the rest of your life?
KAT: I would not mind staying here for a long time, but I am not sure what the rest of my life is yet, or where I belong, but I know that I really love Thailand.
Great! Thanks for letting me interview you. I wish you luck for your Kat's Window column on the Bangkok Post web site.