Interview with Thammasat University Nut Seller Mr. Bernard
Mr. Bernard, known to everyone at Thammasat University: the man selling nuts at Thammasat University, is an ‘institution in himself’ at the university
Mr. Bernard, everybody studying or working at the Tha Prachan Campus of Thammasat University sooner or later encounters you as the man selling nuts. Since when have you been doing this job?
I have been doing this job for 48 years since I moved to Bangkok when I was 23 years old. At the beginning I could not sell nuts in the university area because the security guards told me that I needed to sign a contract with the university and obtain a permission. So, a student named Naris Chaiyasoot (who became later Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Chancellor of Thammasat University) helped me obtain this contract.
Why nuts? Do you have a special relation to this sort of fruit?
Because I did not know what to sell. So, I bought the nuts from Bo Bae market to sell them. In the past, nuts were very cheap so, it was good to sell them but now the price has gone up. Now I earn around 130- 140 THB a day.
Please let us know more about your background. Where are you from and since when have you been in Thailand?
I am originally from Borapura, a small village in the state of Karnataka in southwest India. I have been in Thailand for 48 years now. Only rarely I go back to India to visit my relatives. Here in Thailand, I am with my 5 children and 21 nephews. But my oldest son and my wife died. Now I live in Pinklao in a small house for rent, 15 square two-meters with my son and daughter-in-law.
What brought you to Thailand? Was your move to Thailand a free decision or due to certain circumstances in your life?
I came to Thailand with my parents and grandparents because they decided to move. I don’t know the reason why they wanted to move to Thailand and I have never asked them.
Having been so long in Thailand and at Thammasat University, what do you think about life in Thailand and Bangkok?
I like Thailand more than India. Everything is better for me, including the environment which is cleaner, people are nice here and my Thai friends are really kind as well. Also, in Thailand I can earn more money than in India.
In particular, the people here at Thammasat University are very nice. Many people helped me a lot. For example, the studentshere come to chat with me, help me sell nuts and some students carry the stand for me. Also, I usually leave the stand at the university and walk home so the students helped me write a sign for the stand.
Once, a dog bit my leg and 4 students took me to Siriraj Hospital. Other students helped me take care of the stand at that time.
And at first when I moved to Thailand, I could not speak a word of Thai. I used gestures to communicate with my customers. But every day, I heard some Thai and the students helped me and taught me so that my Thai is very good now.
Thank you very, Mr. Bernard, for the interview!
The interview was conducted by Venus Huangsuwan, CPG Project Assistant.