Stickman Readers' Submissions August 30th, 2004

Delightful Farangland – Ning And I In Europe (4/4) The Departure

Delightful Farangland – Ning and I in Europe (4/4): Departure

Our final two weeks together had a certain unspoken sadness and melancholy. I had tried my best to start all kinds of trips and activities, but time didn't stand still. I look back and take her to the airport.

Liked and Learnt

He Clinic Bangkok

A list of things that caused positive reactions from Ning without me asking for her opinion:
– ugly old bathroom ("beautiful")
– business presentation in the Hilton ("like TV")
– gold-covered walls in the castle
("really gold?")
– Catholic churches (silent awe)
– bathing in cold water, cold air
– romantic candlelight dinners at home ("please take a picture")
– Ceran cooktop panel ("please take a picture")
– big couches

Things and sights that caused her astonished or negative reaction:

– a slightly disorderly living room ("dirty")
– a dirty, poor bag lady in the capital ("why")
– waste separation
– the endless flow of power walkers, Nordic walkers, joggers, mountain bikers and race bikers in the

– prices for shoes

CBD bangkok

And some things she didn't comment on:

– super-modern trains and long-distance airplanes
– several large private homes
– computers and household machines except Ceran cooktop panels
– modern shopping areas in the capital

New foods she grew to like:

– pizza, quiche
– yoghurt, fresh milk, cappuccino, ice cream coffee, tiramisu, mozzarella cheese, other good cheese
– cherries, strawberries, apples, Italian basil
– Muesli, whole wheat bread, ciabatta bread
– dried fruits from
my muesli (steals them!)

wonderland clinic

New foods she never liked to try more than one or two times:

– spaghetti and other pasta
– wine, apple juice

She learnt

– some English
– our prime minister's face
– computer basics
– to do pizza, quiche, espresso, cappuccino, ice cream coffee

She did not learn

– more than seven words of my language
– our prime minister's name
– my country's name in my language
– my country's place on a map

The Last Afternoon

Her last hour in the house. Silently she is packing her huge bag. Now with minus 18 kilograms of fruit, but plus heaps of picture albums and a few goodbye presents, including some of the candles she liked so much in my house. I take her picture, her stony
faced, petrified, desperate yet sublime sadness. I talk boring stuff while she packs. I don't know what to do with her and me. I can't help her in her silence.

Her last minute in the house. Forever? Bags are prepared. Oh, she opens her wallet. She still has some of my 500 USD pocket money left. Remember, in the last three months she didn't only use it for her things, but also for general food shopping.
A small heap of coins and notes, maybe 60 USD? She looks at the money undecidedly and asks: "You need this money back?" – "Not necessarily." – I get the coins, she keeps the notes.

We close the door to my house and enter the car, we want to drive to the train station. I steer out of the parking lot, when suddenly she says "Oh, please, we go back quick". I worry we miss the train, but she insists. We run back to the house.
She jumps in; she prepares the bed for me and puts a bottle of wine into the fridge for me.

Driving to the airport

The airport train instead of the car had been her suggestion: "More easy to talk, you more free for me!" My car is ok now, and I had NOT told her about the airport parking fees – but if she likes the train, I prefer to be chauffeured anyway.
But in the cabin there is no serious talk. Our relation is as unclear as before. Just like this report: a string of mild anecdotes, but no development, no progress, no decision, no commitment, no happy end.

Back in Asia, before we hit the linen, I had told her: "I am sure you are wonderful in bed, but maybe we never meet again, okay for you?" She said yes, she said she liked the warning. Before we agreed on her visit, I had told her over satellite:
"I cannot promise you anything, I am just happy to see you, ok for you?" She had said yes. Now in the train, two hours before she flies home, everything remains uncertain.

Silent thoughts in the train. Maybe she sees I am too slippery, too fishy for a serious commitment; polite and Asian-friendly, sure, but a gambler, a lady gourmet. She would never ask me anything serious straight away, she would never demand a clear position.
(And I have none.) So easy for me.

She wants me to be as free as possible. One time in Asia she had said "I love you" in her language; when I could translate that against her expectation, she said "sorry, maybe now you can't do everything you want, sorry for my words,
please forget." Sometimes I think, with her as my loyal wife I could lead a Bruce Chatwin lifestyle: roam the planet's finest places and people; when burnt-out, return to a cosy home and a caring wife who knows from my face if I need
Darjeeling 2nd flush with spring water or cinnamon cappuccino. But I am not a charming egocentric genius, just a dull globetrotter whose time is running out. I can't take a lady long term AND keep my unsettled life.

While I am sad she leaves, I am also looking forward to picking up my splendid isolation one more time. Reading Nabokov over lunch! Carefree solitary life! I guess she knows that. She always knows too much about me by intuition.

The train speeds on. She is a good Asian girl. She comes from a decent middle-class family, working hard to live in dignity. She has received me every single day. Can she understand that I now don't say anything relevant? That I just point to interesting
buildings along the railway line? She doesn't ask me anything important. Ok, I see, in her understanding that's a man's job. But I don't tell her anything important. I am a coward.
What can she tell the family delegation
that will pick her up at the airport? They will admire pictures of Ning and Pothole in front of golden castle walls and in front of glowing Ceran cooktop panels; they will open her and my presents with hand selected Euro chocolates and cosmetics.
And then, I am sure, they will ask her about the future. And what can she answer? Nothing. I worry she loses face with her father and the others.
Once she had told me that in her language there is a word like "lady for play". Does
she herself feel like my "lady for play"? Will her family see her like my "lady for play"? Did I use her like a "lady for play"? Will she wash down into just another episode on


The airport. I am glad to arrive, thankful for distraction: Now I have to teach her something, because in Bangkok she will have to change aircraft again. What is a "gate"? What is a "flight number"? We study the boards and monitors,
and I lecture away as if nothing else matters.

Security. Here we have to say goodbye, finally. She has been a great wife, partner, lover for three months. No real disappointments. But I can't commit. "Ning, my love", I lie anyway, for the first time she hears this word from me. Now
at least she can practice her look of disbelief again. What a coward I am.

She asks: "Pothole, you promise me something?" – Of course not. "What is it, my dear?" – "If problem with airplane, you take care Papa me?" – I have a lot of trust in THAI, so I say "Yes, my dear, I do". – Then
she lines up at security, then she is through, then she is gone.
I watch a few beautiful Asian ladies passing security. I wonder what they did in my country and if they have a romance here? Intelligent face, beautiful bodies… then
I see motion far away – oh, NING!, down the hallway, still waving at me! I wave back, she is so small and far away now.

Then she is gone.

Delightful Farangland – Ning and I in Europe (1/4): Arrival

Delightful Farangland – Ning and I in Europe (2/4): Taking Over

Delightful Farangland – Ning and I in Europe (3/4): Togetherness

Delightful Farangland – Ning and I in Europe (4/4): Departure

© Pothole Research


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Stickman's thoughts:

Another GREAT series! I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it!

nana plaza