Readers' Submissions

Thoughts # 06 – Rain and Beauty

  • Written by Tommaso
  • November 2nd, 2011
  • 24 min read


Greeting Brothers and Sisters.

I am typing this submission while I am airborne. I have already had my lunch and Bangkok is already a good three hours behind.

When the consultancy contract for Guangzhou was signed for reasons unworthy to mention as part of this entry, I was a natural choice and I seized the opportunity to go there. It would be, I surmised, a perfect opportunity for a stopover in Bangkok on the way back and surprise my teeruk.

I told her a few days before and she was delighted. For once the Thai Government did not require her to travel and we could spend a few days in the capital city. It would be my first time visiting in October and I knew rain was a strong possibility.

In case you are not aware of this, Government officers and / or employees do not get the same generous holiday allowance as we tend to have in the Europe. They normally have ten working days per year. Given that my teeruk will be using some in December and some in February to coincide with my intended future visits, other than the weekend she did not have any holidays left and I did not expect her to take any as we had agreed that meeting mid afternoon after work, would have been fine.

Now, although I may enjoy the odd glass of wine with a meal, I do not drink and I find the bars’ vibes to be a little desolate during the day. I admit that they do become vibrant with the approaching dusk and the scenery can be amusing even if you do not partake but by that time I am already with my teeruk having a meal, enjoying a chat, listening to some live music together, maybe doing a little shopping, in other words being engaged in standard pursuits.

Everyone has a different view on what they find beautiful and how they engage in the ephemeral pursuit of happiness. Some will find beauty in the booty of number 95 at Tilac and some will notice it around them while visiting Wat Pho. At times beauty can be met unexpectedly and suddenly like when a Thai cutie smiles at you while visiting a shop or you can see it in a sunset from the dramatic cliffs at Pha Taem. Some will feel beauty on their skin while swimming in an isolated bay in Koh Samet and for others beauty will reside in the eyes of their teeruk and/or even more simply in the smiling faces of their children.

Perhaps you may take the romantic view that the most beautiful things in life are neither seen nor touched but simply felt in our heart or perhaps you see and touch beauty when you drive a beautiful car. Or, quite intriguingly, as female escort Terry De Nicolo’ once recently said “…beauty is a value that not everyone has and it needs to be paid for, just like the skills of a doctor that’s the way it is…” Yes dear readers, it was raining and I had time to think a little.

The flight is two thirds full and not too noisy. They serve some decent coffee in business class, I sip it slowly while looking out of the window. The horizon is beautiful and I have a good view from my window seat which came at a price. I reflect on beauty and money, what a formidable relationship. Well, if beauty and money are linked, how do you measure them? Take for example American Idol, its producers are paying £21 million to have Jennifer Lopez for their next series. Given that Tulisa Contostavlos is only receiving £500,000 as a judge on the X Factor it may be reasonable to assume that she is not as beautiful perhaps. Does J-Lo deserve the extra pay?

If you possess some empathy, you may wish to spare a thought for Sue Tilley who was only paid £33 per session to model for Lucian Freud in one of his artworks, which then sold for over £20 million although Ms Tilley saw none of that. I am not sure if you saw it but I am not sure that I would not have paid this amount for her painting even if I had the cash to do so.

Supermodel Linda Evangelista needs $46,000 per month in child support from her partner and designer Marc Jacobs wants $10 million from Christian Dior to take over from John Galliano. Mark creates “beauty” while Linda just wears it. Meanwhile, Leona Lewis clearly is not beautiful enough and has been given only £100,000 by her bosses to improve her looks and the outcome? I suppose they want us to believe that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

There are not such problems for Kim Kardashian as People magazine believe she must be so beautiful that they have offered to her $1.5 million just to look at her exclusive wedding photos, which will come handy if she wants to purchase a bottle of DKNY’s Golden Delicious fragrance which is laden with 14-carat gold and 2,700 diamonds in the shape of the New York skyline (In Thailand looking at the stars is still free apparently).

Alternatively, if you are after a red hot beauty and you have the cash my dear Brothers and Sisters why not buy a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa for £10 million? She will make head turn with desire, she will love you long time, she will remain of the same size as when you met her, she will not use a mobile phone incessantly, she will not be affected by sick buffalos and she will never go with anyone else but you, unless you give the keys to someone else that is.

Do you have a view? Do you believe that we can find beauty in anything other than human shapes or landscapes or things that we can touch? Let me explain this further by trying to persuade you with some beautiful evidence provided in this very website and no I am not referring to Stick’s photos (although some are quite striking) but to the readers’ submissions.

As I said it was raining, a lot. I had time to kill and I do not drink.

You see, I like reading and during my life time so far I have spent a great deal of time reading. Yes Brothers and Sisters you are perfectly entitled to remind me that I should have got out of the house more often, maybe become a little intoxicated from time to time and indeed I would have done so had I resided close to Nana Plaza but alas the training with the Jesuits order was very strict and I developed a penchant for reading, what can I say that you don’t already know?

In that light, you can imagine how frustrating it must be for me when I am in Thailand as I have not quite yet mastered these curious scribbles they call the Thai alphabet and to me they look like children’s first attempts at writing with the difference that the Thai characters are much neater and harmonious. In brief, my attempt to read Thai seems to require similar effort and knowledge needed to decipher the Rosetta Stone but try I will and I hope one day to succeed. However, with only a few days in Bangkok and despite all the rain this was no time to start classes in Thai reading and calligraphy.

So there I was reflecting a little more on beauty. I must confess that, personally, I have no definition for beauty because, as I have grown older, I have increasingly realised that everyone has a different take on this subject and that perhaps there is no universal definition of beauty.

To counterbalance my statement perhaps I should add that harmony between the personality and character of people and their external image is something that I find noteworthy. Don’t worry if this holds no meaning for you and, at risk of alienating some of you, there is a popular author on this website who has reminded us from time to time “I am not like you, period. Get on with it.” and equally you are not like me in the sense that we are all unique and different but let’s not put distances between us, which does not serve any purpose in the long term as I was just trying to debunk a few of the myths commonly held on beauty.

“Thailand is beautiful” there I have said it and that is the short phrase I find myself repeating over and over when conversing with westerners or local Thai people about their country. So we are all agreed on this point or are we not? Tommaso, how can you say that? Just look outside at all the rain, what do you find beautiful in that? Hmm, I can see what some of you may be thinking, that in order to express an opinion it helps if for comparative purposes we can draw a parallel with something similar in this case it would need to be a country so that we could say for example “Thailand is infinitely more beautiful than Azerbaijan” OK, that was not difficult at all, I know, but during a rainy moment, and there were many of those during my short visit, I happened to mention to my teeruk, while looking at the incessant deluge from the 20th floor of my rented apartment, that perhaps Italy was more beautiful then Thailand.

She has never been to Italy and she asked me to explain. “If you happen to travel there from northern Europe” I began “You will come across a set of imposing mountains but do not be daunted by their size, because if you can get past them you will be met with a garden of delights

I wish I could say that these were my words but it was DH Lawrence who thought of them and also added “The Englishman is only happy travelling south.

Given that my teeruk is reasonably well educated and a good listener she probed a little more by asking “And was he justified in saying that?”

This put me on the defence as I would not have expected to be questioned as to whether Italy was beautiful, which I had taken for granted. Thus to keep the conversation light hearted while adding a little gravitas, I told her that a friend of mine, a compatriot, who studied as an architect and now worked as a very successful interior designer exporting the made in Italy abroad had already tried to answer that very question by stating that

We live in certain knowledge that the Italians have better food, better clothes and more sunshine then their northern European friends and” he added a little cheekily while lowering his voice “we suspect we have better sex too.”

By the manner in which she looked at me Brothers and Sisters you would have immediately realised that what my compatriot had said may have sounded to her a trifle too far, possibly an exaggeration lacking subtlety and, of course, there is no evidence that Italians, no matter how hard we try to keep up this falsehood, are better lovers unless you happen to be Rocco Siffredi but that is an exception rather than the rule.

Is it not true that the best of Italians are dark, strong, sensitive, charming, playful, emotional, smart and oh so beautiful. Possibly so. Are they inimitably funny, warm and joyful like Roberto Benigni? Sure, this is more than likely but better lovers? To my friend’s defence, he has never been to Thailand so, how could he know what “better sex” actually means? It is not as if he can rely on Brother Korski more representative sample of 473!!

So before she asked me and to avoid further questioning, like a wet dog pelted by the rain I hastily retreated with my tail between my legs and I conceded that other than myth there was not a shred of evidence to substantiate this most ridiculous statement. There was no evidence whatsoever for these kind of ludicrous assertions and, therefore, there was no point going further discussing this and clearly we would never know if Italians actually had better sex and if they or others did was nobody’s business at the end of the day and my teeruk seemed happy with the explanation and I was relieved at having avoided a diplomatic accident while intent on wiping the sweat off my forehead.

As I said, it was raining outside and it rained most of the time I was Bangkok and given that I had not taken my Venetian gondola with me, I saw little point venturing outside in all that rain to sing my rendition of “O sole mio” especially when my apartment was so comfortable and dry and had a good music system and a complimentary wi-fi connection. Therefore, while the rain kept falling hard occasionally tapping the glass of my window, I decided to wait for my teeruk on the way back from work by spending some time checking some of the past and recent readers’ submissions and, as you know, there are so many to keep you occupied for as long as you want.

In my view, and this is something I may have said before, despite the presence of numerous Thai-centric websites, this remains the best of them all and Stick provides a wonderful information service catering to an extremely varied readership. I do not profess to be an expert with my quill and paper but, at times, I do enjoy staining with ink the blank pad I carry with me and I feel ambivalent about fiction or factual as long as it is entertaining. The former is more of challenge in my view and not everyone can do it but I respect that it may not be to everyone’s taste and I have received critique and praise in equal proportions after posting some of my submissions. I accept them all gracefully.

I do not intentionally go out of my way to upset anyone and if I made you laugh and you bothered to email me, I said thank you for reading what I wrote and in the process I have discovered that there are some decent and good natured people hovering in this Sticknet and not just a bunch of Avatars who are quick off the marks to voice opinions in a manner, which sounds both debasing and deplorable. It is regrettable to notice the public and shallow attacks on some authors just because they have shown the courage to share a sentiment or articulate a thought or shared with us their tales of joy and/or sorrow. It seems that most writing is just too mentally challenging for some readers. There is neither beauty nor valour in cyber attacks and instead we should celebrate the efforts taken to put a piece together.

As a friend once told me “There is no art but only artists”. I am certainly not professing myself to be one but there are some people on this website whose talent in my view is pure beauty. Now, love and amorous encounters feature prominently on this website and sex in particular, can be narrated in an engaging manner and not necessarily in a graphic style, which to me holds more interest than anything else. Authors like Aha Wendigo and Blackest Bart can be amusing to some extent but theirs in not the beauty I refer to within the various submissions.

But when it comes to better sex and great lovers there are exceptions of course and ample evidence can be found right here among the 7,000 plus entries and when we find it, it is like discovering a set of precious jewels buried in the sand and it feels as if we want to protect them or in my case share them with you by drawing your attention to it. Now, when I chanced upon this submission, I so much would have loved to think that this regular contributor was a fellow Italian but alas with his self confessed passion for West Bromwich Albion there is not even the slimmest of chances that he may have been a compatriot of mine.

That would have immediately created a controversy as it would have seemed tantamount to saying that one can be a great lover and a supporter of the Pescara football team at the same time. Frankly the mere thought of this possibility was so preposterous to me which gave rise to elevated patches and severe itching on my skin, that transient condition otherwise known as urticaria.

Who is this contributor? Yes I understand my dear darlings that you may be salivating at the mouth with anticipation and excitement like a famished soi dog awaiting its bone after going without food for days. Well, I recognise beauty when I see it and to me beauty was what I read in an entry titled On The Crest of a Wave published back on 28 July 2006.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I invite you to read this story and if you want to know the kind of considerate lover many women allegedly and secretly aspire to meet (if we are to believe recent surveys that a nice caring man is preferred not for a casual fling but for something longer term) then cast your eye around paragraphs 16 to 18 and in particular the one beginning “When they got to his hotel, a more modest establishment…” and then continue south after paragraph 35 and cast again your expert eye on the one beginning “Once in the room they showered together and…

A cursory glance of these lines and even the respected Brother Caveman may need to consider an addendum to his glorious “What Women Want” and by all means, I recommend ensuring a full understanding of each of the steps described in those paragraphs and then practice them in exactly the same sequence and with reckless abandonment together with your teeruk. I did with mine and she went so crazy that in the brief space of five days and five nights she told me that she wanted to marry me an incredible 18 times, which made me feel like 2 feet taller and a lover of legendary proportions and nearly caused me to re-open the unresolved question as to whether Italians do actually have better sex!! On second thoughts as much as I love her, that could be a frightening thought for someone like me who has never married but I digress.

This wonderful weaver of tales, as we all know, can spin a fine web in his loom but in this story, through his description of one of his character’s loving technique, he seems to surpass himself and there we have it, I propose we create a posthumous award or at least ask Stick to consider awarding a posthumous Green Star for the greatest lover of 2006 and, unless you can find better narrative on “making love” to a woman among the 7,000 plus entries this site holds, the winner and still undefeated champion is…drum roll… Brother Phet!!

Well, Brothers and Sisters, I invite you to read Brother Phet’s entry and if you agree with me, then cast your vote, by engaging your keyboard, stretching those indolent fingers of yours and fire that email to Stick by heading your email “Spartacus” and then simply type “On the crest of a wave” and sign yourself “I am Phet”.

Stick is cleverer than the best ten of us put together. He is aware of the allure of democracy among his faithful followers and the need to feed the masses with what they crave for and he will do, I am sure, what is reasonable for him to do and we will all respectfully accept that he has the final say and, by the same token, I am confident that he will administer justice where this is perhaps overdue. As for me, next time some compatriot mentions that Italians are better lovers, I will email them a copy of Phet’s story, add three words to go with it “Read this first” and then ask a la Spartacus “Who is Phet?” and then patiently wait to see who replies by writing “I’m Phet”.

So, now that we have hopefully settled the Greatest Lover Award Danaid (GLAD) from 2006 to 2010, let’s return to beauty and Italy and something more light hearted shall we? I promise you a diligent and empiric approach as a number of so called “Veteran readers/contributors” to this site have high expectations for data reliability and cross referencing and, of late, have not hesitated to express their dislike for some of the accounts posted. Therefore, the times to deliver on my promise is now and without further ado, let’s move onward and upward.

Let me ask you, do you think that we can reasonably contrast and compare beauty between two countries? In my view we can and to prove to you what a diligent and empiric approach I adopted, I have outlined the findings of a little game I played with my teeruk during my recent visit. If you like it, you are welcome to copy and paste the questions or add new ones and play it with family and friends substituting your choice of country to mine. Please bear in mind that it was raining most of the time and venturing out was a little hazardous.

Before we begin Brothers and Sisters, I suggest you decide at the outset which data and websites you are going to rely on, as this game can generate quite heated discussions at times and below I have reproduced a sample of the scoring when I played it with my teeruk. I must admit that for some of the answers I insisted to check the evidence I was presented with and I leave you to envisage what that may have involved because I have learned (by reading some of your submissions) what a filthy bunch of degenerates some of you darlings really are. Thus, feel free to let your imaginations run as I cannot possibly match you in this respect.

As my teeruk is a Government Officer with a responsible position and operating in an environment of facts and figures we became embroiled into a debate as to which was more beautiful Italy or Thailand. Well the gauntlet was thrown and I could not retreat in this situation. It was still raining outside, my tablet was switched on and connected and we decided to carry out a little research and then armed with our statistics, we went through the questions and the answers and I would advise you to agree beforehand how to score fairly and without too many arguments.

Thus, we began an interesting comparison between our respective countries. By the way she made me solemnly swear at the outset my well meaning and honourable intentions to uphold the highest and unbiased standard I could possibly display but please kind readers forgive me if sometimes I was a little too partisan in my objectivity as, after all, I am Italian and to that end I had to protect my country’s honour, if such thing still exists, especially when unbeknown to me I found myself trailing in the scoring charts.

Also, please remember that to Italians, as you shall find out, 1+1 is not necessarily 2 but rather, it is any number that will produce the desired result. We call this being creative with our accounts and it has served us well so far. Also, in the interest of keeping this submission within a reasonable length I did not include every single statistic that we debated and I decided to omit many portions of the real data but the score is consistent with what happened at the time. Are we ready to kick off? Great! Let’s begin;

There was a question that my teeruk asked me at the beginning of the game and it was “How big are you?” to which with nonchalance and not realising that it actually was her very first question I cheekily replied “Why, does size matter?” only to become aware with embarrassment that she was referring to country areas and in square metres!! Realising the seriousness of it all and looking at her chosen questions my fingers began the internet search in earnest. Below is a copy of our answers together with the scores;

Item

Thailand

Italy

Score

Total

Land Area

Water Area

Total

510,890 sq km

2,230 sq km

513,120 sq km

294,140 sq km

7,200 sq km

301, 340

1 – 0

1 -0

Coastline

3,219 km

7,600 km

0 – 1

1 – 1

Climate

rainy season, dry season, hot and humid

Mediterranean enough said

0 – 3 I claimed this based on three seasons, this caused a little heated debate of course but incessant rain was a strong evidence to rely on

1 – 4

Population ‘000

66,720,153

61,016, 804

1 – 0

2 – 4

Birth rate

12.95/1000

9.18/1000

1 – 0 we argued on this as to whether it was a positive or a negative and for whom

3 – 4

Death rate

7.29/1000

9.84/1000

1 – 0 ditto as she argued this would lead to less debt caused by poverty and unsustainable pension provisions

4 – 4

Life Expectancy

Male

Female

71.24

76.08

79.16

84.53

0 – 2 are you surprised?

4 – 6

GDP 2010 rgr

7.08%

1.3%

1 – 0

a sign of things to come?

5 – 6

GDP per capita

In $ 2010

8,700

30,500

0 – 1

5 – 7

Labour Force ‘000 millions

38.640,000

24.980,000

1 – 0

6 – 7

Unemployment 2010 data

1.1%

8.4%

1 – 0

More signs of things to come?

7 – 7

Population below poverty line

9.6%

Rich or poor we live with our mums

0 – 1 she nearly disqualified me for this answer and I had to hold my ground and remind her that she could not be judge and jury in this dispute that was contrary to the principles of “natural justice”. Luckily she relented.

7 – 8

Investment gross fixed % of GDP

24.7

19.4%

1 – 0

are you surprised?

8 – 8

Budget in $

Revenues

Expenditure

in billions 2010

Surplus

58.12

62.16

-1.3% of GDP

957.6

1,052 trillions

-4.6%

2 – 1

10 – 9

Public debt 2010

43.1% of GDP

119.1%

1 – 0

11 – 9

Market value of traded share $

billions

277.7

318.1

0 – 1

11 – 10

Airports 2010

105

132

0 – 1

11 – 10

Railways

Roadways

Waterways

4,071 km

180,053 km

4,000 km

20, 254 km

487,700 km

2,400 km

1 – 2

12 – 12

Best Pasta

N/A

Yes

0 – 2

on quality and

she made me cook it to prove it

12 – 14

Best Pizza

Imported?

Yes

0 – 2

on taste – Ditto

12 – 16

Best Vino

Are you kidding me?

Yes

0 – 4 at this stage purely relying on her drunkenness after just half a glass of Sangiovese

12 – 20

Best Gelato

Dream on and what you offer is not Thai

Yes

0 – 5 Yummy

no arguments here and I played my bonus card (a bonus is 4 even if your card is 1…remember what I said about Italian and counting?

12 – 25

Best good looking women

out of 10

10

7

3 – 0 on fairness and in my best interest

15 – 25

Sexiest women

out of 10

20

10

10 – 0 due to proportionality and I was happy to lose this one but only after she showed me the evidence upon which of course I wanted to give her 40!!

25 – 25

Best dressed women

out of 10

9

9

1 – 1

26 – 26

Best Mums

out of 10

10

10

1 – 1

27 – 27


Well, we had some fun with very little and given that outside was still raining and that I had forgotten to switch the air conditioning on, I suggested that it was time for ice cream which I had purchased earlier in the day and stored in the freezer. In the process of enjoying the gelato, my teeruk and I became so closely entangled, so hot and in such a state of dreadful bother that kept us quite inelegant for some time.

A draw left both parties satisfied and at peace in the comforting knowledge that there may have been some merit in asserting that we had two notably attractive countries. The result was satisfactory all around and we did have a lot of fun. I know that some of you will be astonished that I did not delve a little deeper in extolling other beauties that Italy possessed as a beautiful holiday destination (if we can rid ourselves of the current embarrassing Government that is) and by doing so I could have scored easily on art, fashion, architecture and possibly variety of music but I did not want to win too easily and I was mindful of the “Loss of face” paradigm. Capisci?

Meanwhile, it did rain for most of my stay there and as I continue to read in the papers this seems to have become the worst flood for the last ten years creating problems to industry, motivating food price increases in the near future and inconveniencing many in the normal course of their lives.

If you are in Thailand and affected by any of this my heart and prayers go to you all.

God bless.


Stickman's thoughts:

I have always felt that if I was going to leave Thailand and head somewhere completely new i.e. outside of South-East Asia, Italy might be a good fit. Sometimes I think of Italy as "the Thailand of Europe".