The Winds Of Change
An older woman had caught his fancy. Between working and going to school, he really didn’t have a lot of free time. Somehow he found a lot of time he previously had not known he had. Mostly it came from neglecting his school work. Fortunately for him, he really hadn’t had to apply himself too much. Assignments were done at the last minute. Tests were crammed for the night before. Before he knew it, he was married. He was too young and knew it but it just felt right. There was something about her that he couldn’t get out of his system.
In another world was a young girl who was, for all intents and purposes, married to an older man. She, too, went in to her relationship too young. Not surprisingly, it started out quite well. He, however, became jealous, overbearing and abusive. She thought about leaving but she was more afraid to leave than she was of the beatings. And she really had no support system to help her. She longed for the opportunity to escape but didn’t know how to get away without tipping her hand.
The opportunity arose for him to go work in Thailand and he jumped at the chance. A journey of 16,000 kilometers ended up being much, much more than he had imagined. Little by little, things just started heading south. Before he knew it, he found himself in what felt to be the equivalent of the darkest depths of Hell. His body started running on auto-pilot. His mind tried to block out everything that didn’t directly involve him. He wandered through his days with little care for anything.
Desperation had started to set in. She knew she had to get away from him but she was afraid. Her courage finally overcame her fear but, while she could speak the language, she wasn’t sure how to go about arranging everything without him becoming aware of her plans. So, with little else to lose, she entrusted her plans to two friends: natives who could make all the arrangements without raising any suspicion. Handing over her money, she hoped it would soon be over. Thankfully for her, they were true friends. The plans were all made and they stood by her every step of the way. One day he returned from work to find that she was gone. He didn’t know it yet but she was winging her way back home. It was just 6500 kilometers to Bangkok.
Work had him going to three different locations around Bangkok. The company offices were on Sukhumvit Road. Then there were two job sites. Days, nights, weekends, he was working them all. Not all the time, of course, but enough to get away from the pain of his life. Visits to the office, and even the customer’s offices, were an infrequent affair. His primary job site was along the Chao Phraya River. When he needed a break, or just time to think about his situation, he would go to one of two places. The first was the pier at the job site. But that was usually deserted and a little company was always welcome. The second was a nearby wat where he could be assured of encountering other people. Sometimes it was children fishing from the pier; other times it was tourists looking to catch one of the boats traveling up and down the river.
Upon landing at Don Muang, she headed for the safety and familiar confines of Isaan. It didn’t take long, however, for her to decide that she needed to get away from home and find a job. By chance, she heard some news about a friend, not really a good friend, but a friend nonetheless, who had worked with her overseas and returned to The Kingdom before her. As it turned out, this friend was able to get her a job where she worked. So, once again, she made her way back to Bangkok.
About this time, he moved to the second job site and would be spending nearly all his time there. It was in the Muang Thong area. It was closer to his home and more convenient. Plus, when he needed a break, he could go out and mix with the locals as the site was on the edge of a large housing development. In no time at all he came to prefer this site to the other. He was in no hurry to return to the Chao Phraya location.
Meeting up with her friend, she started her new job. It was in a coffee shop on the ground floor of one of the many high-rise office towers in the city. Not a particularly rewarding job; it was merely a stepping stone. The two friends, both having saved money from their overseas work, were formulating the plans for a business of their own. They would not be there long.
A problem at the Chao Phraya site required him to go back there. He was hoping for a quick resolution to the problem so that he could get back to Muang Thong. Taking an afternoon break with his colleagues, they stopped in the coffee shop. He’d been there with them before even though he didn’t drink coffee. It was a chance to relax and unwind in a pleasant air-conditioned environment. The shop had a high turnover rate and he noticed a girl he hadn’t seen before. His drink of choice was nam daeng. The new girl brought him nam som. She didn’t seem too pleased when he asked her to take it back and bring him the right drink. Watching her, he could see she was tired and that she’d had a hard day. The work uniform was quite drab and it was covered with a dull apron. In all, he found her appearance unappealing.
Once back behind the counter, the two friends were lost in their own conversation. They weren’t really paying much attention but they would occasionally look over at the group of raucous farangs. Besides the drinks, they had an assortment of cookies and other kanom. They found it rather amusing when they saw the farangs reacting to some cookies that they had decided to try that day.
With the labels all in Thai, nobody really knew what they were eating. Normally, you wouldn’t even have to think about what might be in your cookies if you were somewhere else but this was Thailand. There was one woman among the farang and she was a vegetarian. Unbeknownst to them, the cookies they had chosen this day contained prawn. This revelation led to some interesting comments and reactions from the farangs.
The two workers found it all quite funny. They couldn’t contain their laughter. It was during this outburst of laughter that she noticed him watching her. After that, she started paying closer attention to him. It was at this time that she decided she would talk with him when next they met.
A spark in her eye is what had drawn his attention. He found himself looking forward to returning to the job site the next day. Returning to the coffee shop with his colleagues, the first thing he noticed was a beautiful swan where he had last seen an ugly duckling. She had let her hair down, she was no longer wearing the drab work uniform and she hadn’t spent the better part of the day out running errands up and down Charoen Krung Road. Referring to the events of the previous day, they started discussing the cookies and then she started asking how to pronounce certain things in English: prawn and squid being the first since these were in the cookies they sold. She practiced her English and he practiced his Thai. It was at this time that he learned she was soon to leave to open her own shop. It seems that the fates conspired to bring them together. For one thing, it was a chance encounter that led to her learning of her friend’s whereabouts. Secondly, he wasn’t really supposed to be working at this site. If not for a problem needing to be fixed he would not have returned from Muang Thong. Third, had this problem occurred one week earlier or one week later they never would have met. Neither of them had been looking for anyone but they somehow managed to find each other. Maybe the fates really were smiling down upon them.
And maybe the fates weren't!