Yai is the grandmother of one of my muay thai trainers and friends in the city of Buriram, Thailand. I had two trainers named Gai (Chicken), both working with me at the long defunct Tor Ratonakiat Gym. I was training at Tor Ratonakiat Gym as a lone nak muay (boxer) for approximately one year. (Please note, this post has been updated, meaning what you’re currently reading is written retrospectively in 2014). Tor Ratonakiat Gym was, at one time, the home of Sam-A Kaiyanghadao. Here’s more on Tor Ratonakiat Gym in Buriram.
Essentially, when my main trainer Gai was unable to teach me, his friend Gai would come and fill his spot. What usually kept my main trainer Gai from training me were trips to Bangkok to corner Sam-A Kaiyanghadao. At the time, Sam-A Kaiyanghadao was fighting out of a muay thai gym in Nang Rong, Buriram (Province).
The gym owner’s first wife, who lived alone with my main trainer Gai at the abandoned gym, occasionally wouldn’t know who I was talking about. Gai or Gai? On some days I’d arrive and ask if Gai had arrived to train me. Usually she’d tell me that Gai was in Bangkok and wasn’t training me that day. Then I’d say something to the effect of ‘the other Gai’ and she’d have no idea what I was on about.
What did I come up with to distinguish between the two and communicate it in a way she would understand?
I began to describe the other Gai, not my main trainer as, ‘dtua yai’, which literally means ‘body big’. So, essentially I began to refer to Gai, the grandson of Yai, as Big Chicken, when needed.
Gai, or for our purposes, Big Chicken, is from Lamplaimat and that’s exactly where we found Yai one day. Gai and I had ridden to the village on his motorbike and made the rounds to visit his family and friends.
Yai was relaxing with her granddaughter Pear. There were some chickens and dogs in the mix, as well as a lot of laughs. Gai was incredibly happy to see her and began teasing her affectionately shortly after introductions were made.
I absolutely love this photo of Yai as I feel it captures the soft grace she exuded that day.