Thursday, September 23

FB friendship draws Thai women to Bengal village

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Sign language and a translation app might be their only means of communication, but the friendship between two Thai women and a homemaker from West Midnapore’s Chandrakona has suddenly become the talk of the town. Fruit orchard owner Pranom Pimub (53), whom Debjani Adhikary, befriended on Facebook four years ago, has been visiting her home at Chandrakona’s Gosai Bazar, drawing curious neighbours every day. Pranom is accompanied by her acquaintance, Choocheep Kritsanapakdee (64), on the trip.

Debjani, who got married to Manik five years ago, settled down at Chandrakona’s Gosai Bazar. Manik owns a mobile repair workshop in the town, while Debjani takes care of the house. A social media addict, Debjani connected with Pranom some four years ago. Though cyber strangers then, the two got along well on Facebook, despite their linguistic and cultural gulf. Even as their friendship grew on laptops and mobile phones, Pranom invited Debjani and her husband, Manik to her home in Thailand’s Nakhonsawan, where she lives with her policeman husband, Damrang. Debjani could not get her Thai visa due to technical reasons, but Manik visited the Pimubs. With Damrang unable to take leave from his policing work, Pranom asked her friend Chocheep to accompany her to the Adhikarys’ home in India.

On landing in Kolkata early on April 27, Pranom and Choocheep were received at the airport by Debjani and Manik. As daylight broke, the Thai visitors drew the attention of the Adhikarys’ neighbours. For the first two days, Pranom and Choocheep accompanied Debjani to the market and bought fish and vegetables and made Thai dishes out of them. But the Adhikary couple continued to have their usual Bengali meals. From Monday, Debjani requested Pranom to have her Bengali dishes, which both the Thai women relished. On Tuesday, the Adhikarys took their guests to Hooghly’s Joyrambati and Kamarpukur, where they had the traditional bhog and prasad.

“That initial communication gap showed when we would exchange messages and tried to video chat. Sensing we weren’t making any headway, Pranom suggested I download the Google translator. I did and the gulf was bridged almost immediately. I sent Pranom messages in Hindi, which were translated into Thai on Pranom’s device. Likewise, I would receive Pranom’s Thai messages in Hindi. Soon, our husbands joined the exchanges,” said Debjani.

Over these four years, the relationship between the two families grew. The proximity was evident when Debjani and Manik decided to visit Thailand on Pranom’s invitation. Unfortunately for Debjani, her papers were not in order and only her husband got his Thai visa. “I visited Thailand from February 8 to February 16. Pranom and Damrang took me around and showed me their mango and lichi orchards over those eight days. It was a great experience, something I never imagined I would have,” said Manik.

Source: Times of India

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