I had the privilege of coming to Bangkok, Thailand for the first time at the age of six when my father came to Thailand to pursue his PhD. When I heard that we would be moving to Thailand, I was very upset to leave my country but my parents tried to convince me by telling me that I would enjoy Thailand as it is beautiful, I would be able to make new friends and I could always write letters to my relatives and friends back home to stay in touch with them.
After coming to Thailand I realized that compared to my country, Thailand was much more developed and much more beautiful. However, this is not what made me grow a respect for Thailand.
Kindness Even on a Packed Bus
Of course during that time since my father was pursuing his PhD, we were tight on budget and hence the city bus was the only mode of transport that we could avail to get around in Bangkok. The buses during that time were not as packed as the buses running in Bangkok these days but nonetheless most often it was difficult to find a vacant seat.
Back home I never rode the city bus as we commuted mostly using the rickshaw. So when I heard that we would have to commute using the city bus, I was scared because I never rode a bus in the city before and also because I thought that if I could not find a seat then I would have to stand and since I never rode the bus before, I may fall down.
However, I never had to stand on the bus! Why?
Whenever we boarded a bus, if there was no vacant seat available, there was always some kind hearted person who would vacate their seat for me or offer me to sit with them. This did not happen once or twice; it happened countless times that someone offered me a seat or invited me to sit with them.
Every time someone offered me a seat or invited me to sit with them, I felt really shy but certainly I thanked them and also ‘wai’ed to them for their kindness and generosity and sat. Then I would quietly think to myself,
‘Wow these people are so nice! I am not even Thai.
They do not even know me but they offered me to sit. They did not have to do that. They could have just acted like they never saw me but they did not do that. They let me sit and let me enjoy a safe and comfortable bus ride.’
My Respect Grew and Grew
My experience of riding the city bus during my childhood in Bangkok lead me to grow a huge respect for the Thai people, the Thai culture and Thailand. Since, then I felt like Thailand is my home and since then, whenever I heard someone saying anything negative about Thailand, I felt that it was my duty to protest against it.
Sometimes, when I reflect back to my experience of riding the city bus in Bangkok when I was a kid, I feel that if everyone in the world were as nice and kind like Thai people were to me while I was riding the city bus, then probably today the world would have been full of happiness, peace and harmony.