The official website for Thailand’s tourism doesn’t work too well (I haven’t been able to open it in the past 15 minutes) which is probably why the Thai consulate in Kolkata decided to host a select crowd for a fancy dinner to acquaint the city’s opinion makers to the wonders of Thailand. All those who were invited came , lured by expectations of seriously yummy seafood, only to find that before dinner was announced a spiky haired, young consular official took to the podium and clicked open a Powerpoint presentation about why Thailand has enormous potential as a tourist destination. Regardless of how good his command over English may have been and how he tried to engage the crowd with tales of his scuba-diving adventures to liven up the boardroom feel of the evening, every fish-eating guest’s attention was projecting itself not at the images of underwater flora and fauna, but towards the buffet whose shiny covers hid the answer to the crucial question of whether there would be prawns in the pad thai or the tom yam or both.
So most of the gathering didn’t know what hit them when instead of “Dinner is served”, their ears heard the official said, “So it’s great because you can go to Bangkok as Mr. Singh and come back as Mrs. Singh. It’s very convenient to escape creditors or marriages. We don’t recommend staying on in the country as Mrs. Singh since competition in that sector is quite severe but anyway, the point is there’s great medical tourism in Thailand.” One the screen were two pictures. One had a man, prepped for surgery, while the other showed a women surrounded by smiling doctors. Whether it was the same person is something that was not confirmed.
As it turned out, only the tom yam had prawns.