One of my office mates, Sarantip, has been having some hard times. Her grandmother died last week, so she went to Bangkok for the funeral. On the way back to Khon Kaen, she got into a car accident and hurt her back. She is in the hospital on bed rest. I visited her there today with some teachers and students.
Daniel & I wanted to bring something to Sarantip in the hospital. Several people told us to bring fruit. We thought it seemed strange to bring fruit into a hospital and couldn’t see how she could possibly eat all of the fruit that people were planning to bring to her. We ended up buying flowers instead. On the way to the hospital, a student called and told us not to buy irises because they are a symbol of death. Unfortunately, we both had bouquets full of irises. We asked a few other people if irises were really symbols of death. They told us that irises are not symbols of death, but they are traditionally given to monks. We decided to give them to Sarantip anyway. When she saw them she laughed and said “mai pen drai” (nevermind/no problem)
Everyone else brought fruit, so there was a huge pile of bananas, apples, and oranges on the table. I was glad I didn’t bring fruit because I knew Sarantip would never be able to eat that much fruit. Then the students soon started passing the bananas around to everyone in the room. It turns out that people bring fruit as a gift to hospital patients, who then share the fruit with their visitors. It all makes so much sense now!