The Thai Terre restaurant staff have been thinking recently about tradition, customs and politeness, and how easy it is to give offence by accident. We’ve learned a lot about English manners – no doubt with a few bumps along the way, but we’re sure you’ll forgive us – and thought it was about time we shared not just Thai food and our restaurant with you, but a little of our culture as well. In Western culture it is traditional to shake hands with someone as a mark of respect – historically it showed that you were not holding a weapon. This may not be relevant today, particularly in East Dean, yet it is still a big part of British culture. In Thailand, instead of shaking hands you would offer the wai. This would be initiated by the junior person: a child to a parent; an employee to their employer; a younger person to an older person or a guest to their host. It is performed by placing the palms of your hands together with your fingers pointing upwards (as if you are praying), then bowing your face to touch your fingertips. While doing this, a man will say the words ‘sawatdi khrap’, while a woman will say ‘sawatdi kha’, which loosely translates as ‘well-being’. The senior person will then respond in kind. In Britain, someone who is houseproud might ask you to take your shoes off before entering their home so that you don’t damage their carpet, but in Thailand it is far more important – the foot is considered the lowest and most unclean part of the body, and shoes even more so. It is polite to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, but it is absolutely essential to remove your shoes before entering a temple. Pointing your foot at something is also a big no-no, and means you must be careful how you sit, especially when in a holy place. By contrast, the head is considered the highest and most sacred part of the body and it is considered rude to touch another person’s head. Something else which is very important in Thailand is respect for our ancestors and our elders. We celebrate Mother’s Day on 12th August, which is the birthday of Queen Sirikit, the mother of all Thai people. But we will all be paying respect to our mothers on the British Mother’s Day of March 15th as well. If you want to give your mother a treat on Mother’s Day, why not book a table at Thai Terre, where we will be giving a surprise cake to every mother who dines with us.