Stickman Readers' Submissions October 12th, 2006

Delightful Ning back in Farangland 5 – Springrolls And Blueberries On The News

A day walk in untouched nature. Actually, the term "day walk" means for us: We walk one hour or so. Then we need several hours to take pictures, food, drink and general rest.


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Until noon we have only made a few miles. But with our slow pace we can enjoy the lovely countryside even deeper. For our luncheon in the backwoods, Ning has prepared fried spring rolls in my kitchen. (She claims our local smallish Asia store
sells the best spring rolls papers available anywhere in Asia.) On the grass, she also spreads yoghurt, apples, bananas, muesli bars, even a box of salad with sauce by the side. Tissues, spoons, forks, a thermos with tea and a water bottle. Once
more, Ning did her food job gloriously.

But I failed: I forgot to bring a picnic mat, and the ground is just slightly too wet to sit down right on the grass.

"But you have the newspaper in your bag", Ning says with a relieved smile: "We can sit on that."

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"Ah, dear, I haven't read that paper yet."

She does not even hear my words. Busily she looks around for the most even area of the ground to place the newspaper. There is no way in the world to tell her that newspapers are for reading, not for sitting or wrapping fish.

Quickly I flick through the paper. Lots of good, interesting stories… (With Ning in the house, I read much less then when alone, because I don't want to neglect her and she has so few of her own things to do, in her isolation she even
started to fold all my slips and socks one morning.) I guess I have to make a sacrifice, give a part of the paper for seating. Politics? No, I definitely won't give up Politics for a picnic mat. Science and Arts must stay with me, too. But
ok, here goes: Ning may sit on the Business section, and I'll grace the Local News with my backside.


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It is one more wonderful outdoor lunch with Ning, actually this is something like a beloved ritual for both of us. When sitting there munching with Ning under the clouds, usually silent but super-content, I feel a very deep understanding.
Fast fade all memories of Noi, Norah, Nahlee and Phuong, let alone Tina and Marina. It’s Ning, Ning, Ning on my mind.

Yes, our delightful outdoor dinners are a “relationship routine”, just what I despised in part 1, but then it’s so peaceful and wonderful. On occasions like this, one is really tempted to think “I want get old
with her by my side”.

Oh really?

Pothole, wake up! Could I give up the jolly winters on my SE Asian playgrounds; the summers in Old Europe with imported black-haired girlfriends; all for an exclusive contract with little Ning from some sticky SE Asian hinterlands?

One thing is clear: I can’t import Ning for a third time on a tourist visa. It’s not what a Good Asian Girl is supposed to do. Her family was not amused when she traveled to Europe on just another holiday trip, without any marriage
plans on the horizon. Just imagine what the neighbors may say! And while Ning stood through all offences from her family, and through all dull questions at the visa interview and at the National Border Police, and never demanded any commitment
from me – I sense she needs a decision too, a stable situation. She is too good to fall for a player. I want her to have that much self-esteem.

So now I have sacrificed my beloved newspaper for her, at least the most boring parts. Is she worth it to sacrifice more? Who knows what she sacrificed for me so far.


After feast, thoughts and some relaxing arm in arm, we decide to try a few more miles on our feet. Upon getting up, the Business and Local sections, or floor mats, look crumpled, but not hopeless. I neatly fold them, under Ning's slightly
disdainful looks, and keep them for later inspection. For once I fold something more carefully than she does.

We walk on to find a field full of ripe blueberries. Actually, Ning finds it, I didn't notice the fruit. Ning has never seen blueberries, but before thinking twice she has collected a pound and eaten half of that. "Ui, very delicious
my dear!!" My bronze fruit junkie does not even ask if those unknown fruits are edible.

There is no stopping her. "My dear – ok for you if I pick a few berries?!?! You can wait or you angry me?!?"

"Oh, please, collect berries as long as you like."

Ning descends on the blueberry field with a serious, terminator-like face. For a while I enjoy snapping her, because for once she does not look embarrassed or forced-photo friendly at the camera, but she remains fully concentrated on her
responsible job.

Periodically Ning returns to offer me fruit.

"Ning, I like the fruit, but please *you* eat most of it, because you collected it. I am too lazy to pick the berries, so please YOU enjoy them."

A very surprised look: "NO, NO!!! I don't like those fruits if you don't share with me!"

"Ah, you pick them, please YOU enjoy them!"

"NO!!! Please you share, I cannot enjoy them alone." I am fed another handful, and off she wanders to her next prey.

I fish for the rumpled paper, spread Business and Local News over the ground again and start reading Politics. Ning re-appears, and I am asked to eat the last two springrolls; because then we can use the plastic food box for the berries.
I duly free us of the two springrolls. The box is thoroughly cleaned, then stuffed with a clean plastic bag, then the berries go inside.

I return to my newspaper. It is a warm summer day, birds are chirping, grasshoppers are harping, I sit there in the shadow with a good newspaper in the quiet countryside while my lovely Asian lady busily collects pound after pound of delicious
blueberries around me. Any worries in this world? (Only one day later I learn that we might contract echinococcosis from our blueberry orgy.)

I've made it to the Mixed Disasters page before Ning re-emerges from the bushes: "My dear – you not bored when I collect fruit long time?"

"Oh no, Ning, not at all. I know that you have something important to do. And so, I can enjoy my newspaper even more. This time while I read, I don't feel I neglect you, because for once you are busy with your own things."

From her Huh?-look I can't say if she didn't understand the vocabulary or the meaning. But we don't look deeper into this topic, because for once we are both together and both happy doing something side by side, but independently.
And guess what? Ning is so busy, I can change the floor mat from Business to the now thoroughly studied Politics and read the crinkled Business and Local News too.

My intuitive girl only tires after I have happily finished the whole newspaper. We decide to hike back to the car.


Back home I will skim my cooking books for blueberry cakes and desserts.

"You know what my dear", say Ning: "These fruits will be MOST delicious with chili salt!"

Stickman's thoughts:

You can take the girl out of Thailand but….

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