Earlier day, my team and I had a brainstorming session about what should be the next concept for Living Spirits in Thailand.
After we have cracked the unique characteristic of Thai people, we found the word that has no exact definition in English ‘Kreng-Jai’. (The word ‘Considerate’ seems ok but not quite exact.)
Let’s look at the derivation of this word.
According to the late Prof.Pluang Na-Nakorn dictionary’s definition, the word ‘Kreng-Jai’ means the feeling of someone who doesn’t want to make others feel uncomfortable. (You may also look up for this word in Thai-English dictionary for more information.)
While looking deeper into the meaning of this word, this question strikes us. ‘Why does someone feel uncomfortable to make someone else feel uncomfortable?’ As far as I have noticed, we’ve found that many of us put other people first. Periphrastically talk seems to be our culture. So that we act according to the way we believe and somehow it makes us feel safe.
The most obvious situation that can describe the meaning of this word is ‘The last piece on the plate’ or Chin-Kreng-Jai (Mostly, found in Thailand)
When we’re at the dining table, sitting among friends, after big and small talks and there it is…the last piece of the meal that was left on the plate. The final piece that nobody dares to eat. Even there’s someone wants to finish it, it would come from another one’s offer or the one need to ask or say before having the last piece. Do you find it strange!? We don’t know when exactly this kind of behavior has been noticed for the first time, but now, it becomes table manner.
Unlikely to Japanese table manner, the one who eats the last piece of the meal will be lucky. They pay respect and add value to it. In France, if you decide to finish the meal with an empty plate, it means you are not finishing the meal yet. You can have more.
We believe that Kreng-Jai is all around the corner of our lives like we’ve found ‘The last piece on the plate’.
What does ‘Kreng-Jai’ mean for you?
What situation that you’ve found it can be defined as ‘Kreng-Jai’?
Is there any situation that seems to be ‘Kreng-Jai’ in your country?