Boripat Lebel was born and raised in Thailand, attended high school in the hills of Perth, graduated from the Australian National University, Canberra, and is presently back in Chiang Mai. He is also the author of A Vomit of Diamonds – a free e-book full of pizzazz!
I will be the first to agree that Boripat Lebel is an odd and unlikely marriage of nomenclatures. My given name, Boripat, is Thai, and has a somewhat romantic backstory, if you will allow me the indulgence of a brief digression. You see, Boripat is the name of a waterfall in a national park in southern Thailand, where both my parents worked – my father, a visiting postdoc, and my mother, a young tour guide with a monkey friend known for his dangerous jealousy; but that is a whole other story. Anyway, it was here in the national park where my parents first met, fell in love, and later on, one fine day beside Boripat Waterfall, where my father proposed to my mother.
Boripat Waterfall, painted by Nana (my grandmother)
My family name, Lebel, on the other side of the world, is French, and has its roots in Normandy. As the history goes, Monsieur Lebel the First had a son, Nicolas Lebel, who was among the earliest settlers to arrive in Québec. It was here in New France where Nicolas Lebel found his lover, Mademoiselle Thérèse Mignot, whom he married in 1665. Thenceforth, Québec became the official residence to the House of Lebel.
Given the foreign origins of my designation, it is perhaps not surprising that my given name is an awkward word for Australians to deliver; they almost universally seem to think that the proper way to pronounce Boripat is by adopting a slight Indian intonation. Meanwhile, in Thailand, blank faces stare up at me when they pass by Boripat with ease but then hit a brick wall at Lebel. During such encounters – when I have to correct pronunciation or teach a mouth to move as they do in Paris – it would be remiss of me not to admit that I have sometimes thought, had I a name committed to one place, a moniker belonging to a single culture, there would be a bucket less of explaining to do. Such ideas are fast put to rest, though, for I am quickly reminded of the stories behind the appellations and the significance they bear: ‘Boripat’ being the witness to my parents’ love, and ‘Lebel’, a long history of Frenchmen in Canada. I wouldn’t change either for worlds!
© Boripat Lebel, 2016