Delightful SE Asians In Europe – Conspecific Encounters 2
School friend Mrs. Dao invites my wife Nahlee to her home: "My husband has birthday, we will cook good food for lunch, ok mai?"
Nahlee isn’t much into big parties, especially with Farang strangers, but Dao assures: "There won’t be any more people."
Nahlee can’t turn down the invitation to a Thai cooking session. So at Dao’s, they cook a whopping Thai lunch. They also prepare steak, French Fries and pudding for the husband.
After lunch, around 3 PM, Dao’s husband sets out for a pub crawl with his mates. The girls stay behind.
"It’s always like this", shrugs Dao, "His birthdays are always boring: he goes drinking, I stay behind."
So Nahlee knows why she had been invited.
Visiting Mrs Dao 2
Husband gone, Dao grabs her wedding album and shows it to Nahlee. "Why", says Nahlee, "Here for your Thai wedding, you were slim and slender – not fat like today?"
"It's like this", shrugs Dao, "Here in Farangland I just go to school on some mornings – and cook and eat all the rest of the time."
Visiting Mrs Dao 3
More pictures. "You have a nice house up there in Isaan", comments Nahlee. Her fingers move over the glossy prints. "And this looks like a brand new Honda? A 2008 model, right?"
"Yes, a 2008 model."
"Great", goes Nahlee, "so what do your parents do?" (She thinks they look like rice farmers, but she doesn’t say it.)
"Oh", shrugs Dao, "they work nothing, really."
A Middle-Aged Thai Lady
Walking in the park, there sits a middle-aged Thai lady we never met before. Of course the women chat away.
Her husband is holidaying in Thailand right now. She had to stay behind in Farangland to take care for the kids who are going to school already.
"Previously, we'd all go holidaying in Thailand together", the Thai lady says. But now, with the girls going to school, they would have to go right in the main holiday season – "and that's too expensive for the whole family, my husband found out. So he goes alone, I watch the kids, he can't cook for them."
"How long will he stay in Thailand", asks Nahlee?
"Oh, just 18 days in Phuket and Pattaya, and a bit of shopping in Bangkok, with two buddies."
Another Middle-Aged Thai Lady
We also meet another middle-aged Thai lady from the district capital. She talks Farang with a very heavy local accent and completely grammar-free. Nahlee can't understand her Farang sentences, because Nahlee is used to universal school Farang. Obviously the other lady never attended a language school, and her husband didn't care to teach her a more usable way of phasaa Farang. Let her travel 50 miles in any direction, and nobody won't understand her accent and special vocabulary.
All the more she's integrated locally. At primary school, where her daughter goes, she gives Thai cooking classes for the other mothers.
Yet Another Middle-Aged Thai Lady
Another middle-aged Thai lady in the bus, of course they start to talk. Nahlee says she's just coming back from school, and what about her.
The other lady shows off her hands: the look worn, like after years in the rice field.
"I worked so hard in Thailand", says the other lady. "I've been here in Farangland for 12 years", she goes on – "But I WILL NOT learn the language!"
"Why?!" Nahle can't understand.
"If I speak Farang properly, my husband might send me to work!?"
A lady friend of mine once enjoyed a hot one-night stand with a Peruvian guy. Now she has a cute, ten years old, black-haired bronze daughter.
This daughter and Nahlee, my wife, both bronze, black-haired and brown-eyed, really like each other very much. They seem like sisters who have shared a room ever since. They walk hand in hand to buy ice cream.
The Peruvian-Farang girl's best friend in school is a Thai-Farang girl.
Three Thai Ladies and I
I sit with three attractive Thai ladies in an illustrious night pub. One lady is my wife Nahlee, the other two Nahlee has met on the street, ending up with an invitation to the pub.
Upon entering, Miss Noi drags us to a table near the dance floor, the noisiest corner of the night pub. I guess she wants a noisy Thai style night out and drags any company to the pub she can get. I refuse and lead the group to a much quieter area.
Miss Noi's husband is sick at home. Miss Noi herself is having a good time anyway, she knows many people in this pub (which normally is too slick for Nahlee and I). Noi looks around all the time and every three minutes or so checks her handphone. She met her husband on Samui, where she had a souvenir shop.
Then there's Mrs Gob. "Where's your husband", I ask her?
"Oh, he went to a birthday party."
"And you don't go there?"
"No, just his friends there, and they only eat Farang food – boring!"
Mrs Gob raves for ten minutes about "sickly rice" (sticky rice), which she prepares everyday, together with laab. She calls her mom everyday, and she chats with Thai friends on the net every day.
A guy invites Noi for a dance, and she happily agrees. We must have been boring for her. Around midnight, Nahlee, Gob and I drive back home. Noi happily moves her glass to a table near the dance floor. Gob happily says she'll now chat online for a while.
We are invited to a garden party that originated from a language class in the neighborhood. There are about eight western men void of most textiles, hanging out in the sun as if in a Pattaya deckchair. There are Thai, Vietnamese and Brazilian ladies, some with "speaking" faces and demeanour.
There's even Somchai, a handsome Thai man. "Now where is Somchai's Farang wife", I ask Nahlee? "I don't see one western lady here."
"Pssshhhtt", Nahlee goes, "Somchai is legally married to Thomas, the Farang man over there."
Energetic fun-loving Mrs Fon, married to friendly, relaxed George, has prepared most of the sticky rice, som tam, grilled food and curries. "Why is the rice sticky", ask the Brazilian ladies in disbelief?
Nahlee brought our coffee equipment and after lunch carries espressos and cappuccinos around. Everyone except the Thai ladies enjoys the caffeine fix. Luckily we also brought a box of ice cream, which the Thai ladies eat between toast slices.
The guys sit in the deckchairs, the girls lie on mats on the grass, chatting, munching and snoozing. It's actually not so different from a Thai family outing to the park or riverside.
Mr Somchai Update
Shortly after the garden party, Somchai drops out of the class. He returns only for the final exam, where he fails completely. He speaks almost no local phasaa Farang, I converse with him in Thai and English.
"School's not important, only money is important", says Somchai's husband Thomas to me. Somchai now works 12 hours a day in Thomas' company.
"Ten years later, I'll sure be back in Thailand", says Somchai to Nahlee. "Only money is important".
Mrs Fon Update
Shortly after the garden party, energetic fun-loving Mrs Fon invites Nahlee to a ladies' afternoon in Fon's home. "Great", I say to Nahlee, "Later I come along and pick you up with the car". I'd just like to peep into George and Fon's apartment for a minute.
Nahlee reports this plan to Mrs Fon, and it is declined. "My husband isn't there", reasons Fon, "and he wouldn't like other guys in the flat."
Or maybe she had other reasons to keep me out, because, according to Nahlee, most of the afternoon was spent by Fon teaching my naïve wife some important lessons. Until today I'm unsure if I should hand the lessons on to Fon's Farang husband, the friendly, relaxed, hard-working George. What would you do?
Buy only very cheap food. Thus you can keep more household money for yourself. Throw the receipts away on the street. Only if the husband is with you, go to better shops.
Send all your money to Thailand every month. If something happens to you, the money is in Thailand already. No need for the money to stay in Farangland.
George had told me that he and Fon are currently building themselves a plush house in Surin, complete with air-con, bathtub and all. Fon tells Nahlee that this house is actually for her parents only, and definitely not for George. Nahlee should start a similar scheme.
I love Hans Meier's submissions but this one is a little depressing (still enjoyed reading it though). I for one would never want to be in a relationship with a woman where at every social gathering the men go to one side and the women to the other. But that is very much the way it is at social functions in Thailand, except for those with the real hi-so where interactions between males and females are similar to what we see in the West.
Sometimes, sure, it is nice to be with your mates, talk sport, talk shop etc. but when it happens all the time one has to wonder what sort of relationship they're in – at least I would.