February 10, 2015 - Toon (2nd person I approached)
I spent some time today checking out coffee shops. And a small strip mall. It was in the last coffee shop that I saw Toon (chew-nn). She was sitting alone, with a coffee, a delicious looking piece of cake, and reading on her phone. There’s something ‘daring’ about going into a coffee shop with no intention of drinking (more) coffee. I sat across from Toon, which was a first. I usually just walk around like I’m looking for someone, and I am, I’m just not sure who that person is.
I sat for a moment before asking Toon if we could chat. When she said yes, I moved to the chair next to her, so as to avoid shouting across a coffee table that we were sat at. Toon told me that she only had about ten minutes before going to work. She also said that her English wasn’t so good. That usually means the person saying it, knows more about grammar than I do.
Toon was born in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I have one older brother and one younger brother. There is two years between each of us. We were close as children. My brothers were never mean, or ganged up on me. We’re good friends,” she told me.
“I was very involved in extra activities at school. High-school was better for me than elementary school. I was more comfortable making friends and being myself. I would spend time with friends, going shopping or just hanging out. I was fortunate to have a good group of friends. We were all good girls,” she said smiling.
“My parents wanted me to go to the school of Law. In Thailand, it is for the parent to decide what the children are to become. I asked my parents and they thought about it. Education is not free, and they paid for my university, so I had to go. My father is a justice,” Toon tells me. She motions with her hands the action of a judge with a gavel, to ensure I know what she means. ‘You are guilty!’ I say.
“Yes, exactly!” Toon smiles with satisfaction at my understanding.
"I didn’t want to do this, but I had to. I went to university for four years and got my Bachelor’s degree in Law.” She tells me her mother is a house-wife, but went to school for accounting.
“My father also has a small coffee shop. There are thousands of coffee shops in Bangkok. It is more like his hobby,. My mother does the accounts,” she says.
When she completed her degree, Toon went to Sydney, Australia.
“I had a friend who lived there and I went to get my Master’s degree,” she said. I asked how her parents felt about her leaving home, and moving away.
“They were okay. They told me 'Go!' They said I could look after myself. My brothers, both the older one and the younger one, they are shy. They would not leave. But I am not shy, and my parents knew I would be alright. They say ‘Go’ and I did,” said Toon.
She studied Operations Management in university in Sydney.
“I only had to study for one year to get my Master’s degree. I was finished with Law school. I did not want to do that in Australia.” Toon worked three part-time jobs to pay her way through school. “In Thailand people are lazy and only go to school. I needed to work to manage my life. I worked in a small Thai restaurant, and a coffee shop. And I was a camera photographer's assistant.” She spent three years in Australia before returning to Bangkok.
“Back in Thailand, I worked for a little while in a restaurant, and I loved that,” she said.
“I decided that I wanted to become involved with food. I have a good friend who lives here in Vancouver,” she said, laughing. I was puzzled and asked why she was laughing.
“Because it seems I go to places where I know a friend. But really I do have a very good friend here. I am study now at a culinary school of arts,” she said, sounding contented.
“I have been here to Vancouver for three months. I like it. Except getting used to carrying an umbrella every day. I don’t understand this. It rains so much here.” She is working part-time at a pub on Granville Street.
“I’m only a line cook, but it is a popular place. I like the work.”
I took a few photos of Toon, and without my glasses on, had to get Toon to make sure there was a good one there.
“No, my eyes are closed,” she said, laughing again. Good thing I showed the photo to her. I noticed that a tree in front of the coffee shop had been elaborately yarn-bombed, in a Valentine's Day theme. I pointed it out to Toon, who was either not interested, or wasn’t going to say she didn't understand it. I asked if she was planning to stay in Vancouver.
“I am at school for one year. But I think I would like to apply to stay,” said Toon.
“I do like it here. Even with the rain.” #notastranger