Actor, dancer and now author of Maid in Thailand, Kristen Rossi has had a action packed life since arriving at the Kingdom in 2007 with two suitcases and “no plan”. She shares all with Mark Bibby Jackson.
Can you explain how Maid in Thailand came about?
I got the idea two years ago. I had a Burmese maid that could speak Thai but only read Burmese and spoke no English. We communicated in Thai but written language was a problem. I bought a Burmese / English dictionary to help when we had issues but when it came to cooking I had to print out two English copies of the recipe then literally hold up each ingredient and have her translate it next to the word in English. For someone with little patience and a lot to do, it was very tedious. I tried to find Burmese / English cookbooks but struggled so I thought why not make one myself. Then friends of mine – photographers Dennie and DK Cody – suggested if I was going to make a book, why not do a full book, not just on cooking but a guide on running the house etc. So, I did.
What is special about the book?
It is a guidebook to having household help. Most of us that have been lucky to have household help here in Thailand often learn by calling up our friends and asking, “what do I do?”, “how do I tell her that…” and “why did this happen?”.
It’s in three languages. This I think makes it the most special. The content is broken down into sections of three pages. One page in English, then the translation in Thai, then the translation in Burmese on the next page. Then another new page of information in English, then the same information in Thai is on the next page and then the same information is in Burmese on the next page, etc. You can pretty much read and then point to the same place on the next page and be able to show what you want.
There is a conversion chart as well as an ingredients guide to clarify some western ingredients that are not as common in Asia.
What is your intended audience?
We market mainly to expat families and more so to women. For the person running the house to read and then give to their help. We have been aiming at schools, women’s groups, clubs, children / mom groups such as Bambi, moving companies etc. I have also started contacting some maid agencies to see if they would be interested in it as well as most of the book is in all three languages, Thai, English and Burmese.
Are you writing from personal experiences?
Absolutely. Much of the content in the book is there because I have had some sort of experience with it or is information I wish I new sooner.
Because many maids in Thailand now are Burmese. With the continuous increase of Burmese in labour positions in Thailand – many not speaking Thai – the gap needed to be bridged. It still does. There’s tons of work to do.
This is a bit of a departure from acting and dancing, can you explain why the new direction?
Not a new direction, just an additional project. I am a doer, it’s a blessing and a curse. If I have an idea I think is good, it kills me not to act on it. I live by the idea that if you are given a talent or idea, you should share it. That’s why you’ve been given it in the first place. There’s nothing worse than a good idea that was left to wither because someone was too busy, lazy or afraid.
I am still acting/singing/dancing….. you can see me swing dancing with Bangkok Swing every week. Just filmed a music video with the Thai Rockabilly band Trix O Treat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJUK5O67GQw), I shot a TVC for France on Saturday, auditioned for a film last week, and am in the process of working on a large scale musical theatre revue for 2014, Broadway Babe: Name in Lights. In preparation we have started mini ‘pop up’ shows around the city called Vintage Nights. We will have the first one, EASY TO LOVE, a revue of 1930s hits, on Mar. 7 at The Hop in Silom. Performance is still my #1 passion, but it’s fun to tap into other talents too.
What are your future plans? Maid In Vietnam? Maid in Cambodia?
Future plans….hahaha!! So many. Yes I’ve thought about Maid in Vietnam. Maid in Shanghai, Singapore, etc. Currently I am fishing about the market to see if there’s the same need. Also am working on a Thai sequel….Maid in Thailand – their stories, but the details are a secret.
How much does Maid in Thailand cost and where can you get it from?
It costs B420. Currently it can be bought online at our website www.traveleasyasia.com or via firstname.lastname@example.org, the US Embassy in Bangkok. It will be in the Chulalongkorn University bookstore in three weeks and in Asia Books soon but the date is to be announced.