Taking Miss Thailand Home
Some quick thoughts on your recent column Taking Miss Thailand To Farangland based on about 13 years total in the States (for her, 4 of those years I was in Thailand while she waited out her citizenship required time in country).. 19 years married.. geez time flies.
– A means to communicate back home is a must, hopefully without limitations. Today that’s easy with Skype and such, 20 years ago not so easy.
– She absolutely loves US housing compared to even nice homes in Thailand.. everything is larger and works better and feels more quality. (Europeans might say the same)
– Driving. Easy if they read and write English. Not so easy otherwise. In most cities there is a “Thai list” of possible questions in English passed around based on hundreds in the state who have taken the test before them. I wouldn’t have that. In the US you typically travel at higher speeds and criminal charges for serious “accidents” are not infrequent. I told her I’d buy her a car of her choice if she learned English well enough to pass the drivers test. In the US they make the questions tricky so it’s often a play on words, very difficult for a non-native speaker. Or, she could use the list and buy her own car/insurance/gas. It took her nearly two years of constant studying and six tries, but one day in December she came home with a shiny new state DL. A few weeks later I surprised her by parking the car of her choice in the driveway and letting her find it. The car? A Toyota 4×4 supercab of course. Geez. Today she’s upgraded to a awd Subaru because of the snow/ice local to where we now live. (Did you notice we solved the English problem, the DL problem, and the something to do problem with just a little bit of incentive?)
– Friends. It’s a rare Thai person my wife will be friends with and it never lasts.. they swear, gamble, play loan shark, cheat on their husbands and all the standard crap ex-bargirls do to top up their own bank account.
– Work. She wasn’t too good for anything despite a 4-year college degree. Waitress, working in a dry cleaners, taking care of the sick, and now is a fitness instructor which has benefits..
– Food. This was an issue. She made her own food for about two years before I started bringing home her favorites cooked Thai style.. when she found out it was from a Thai restaurant she wouldn’t go, she didn’t want to meet other Thais. So she sends me. She has found the Asian food store run by a nice Japanese lady and cooks mostly at home.
– Clothes. The coldest it’s been here is -34F. She was shoveling snow, walking the dog, etc.. because I bought her a comfortable set of military cold weather gear so a person can be outside for hours and never feel cold.
– Doctor. Western medicine took some getting used to. Everything from a obgyn to acute care, she was finally getting regular and quality health care. But a doctor that needed to see her naked was a shock, even though it was a female doctor. On the plus side leaving her lifelong exposure to heavy pollution behind cleared up her skin issues and resulted in super soft skin.. but who knows what 30 years did to her long term. Or 12 – 13 years to me.
– Appliances are a constant source of amazement, pleasure, and frustration for her. The dishwasher kicked her ass at first but now she’s mastered it. Our modern clothes washer was complex but somewhat familiar, but a dryer? Totally alien. (I had an American dryer on one of my balconies that I let rust away on the outside, but was clean as a whistle and worked great on the inside.. she didn’t use it then, our housekeeper did) The vacuum.. getting her to remember to change the bag when full, how to replace a belt.
A big Kitchenaid mixer with attachments like a meat grinder and food processor was a Christmas gift. She started making healthier foods from scratch, grinding grain for home baked breads, grinding (on-sale) sirloin for hamburgers, that was a big hit with a steep learning curve. One day I came home and found her staring down into the sink and flipping the disposal switch on and then off, on and then off. I thought she had lost something. Nope, we’d have one for 7 years and she didn’t know what they were for or how to use one. Once she learned she then couldn’t learn where the food went. Mysteries.
– My mom once said that if a woman could truly love an animal, she was a keeper. I don’t know about that, but possibly one of the most positive things in her transition was bringing her home puppy. The puppy is her baby. Well, I suppose was her baby. Today it’s her rather large dog that would give her life for her and constantly keeps an eye on her making sure she’s safe. That dog is the light of her life. Her priorities are god, her stepson, the dog, what family she can tolerate, friends, and I’m a few places down from there..
– Becoming a citizen. She will NOT go back for longer than a week or two and then only every 5 – 7 years. She loves America. It started with me taking her on a walk of our highly diverse neighborhood and introducing her to Arab, European, Japanese, Taiwanese, Chinese, Saipanese, and other nationalities.. who were all now Americans and who did American things like work, school, etc. I told her she could study hard, go to ESL classes and become an American in 3 years (me being military almost halves the time) on paper and in spirit.. or she could languish and feel sorry for herself and possible end up going on by herself. Now that she knows the country, that women are protected at home and at work, that they can work till old age if they wish, they have full rights, equal pay (contrary to the cries of our left loonies), she’s not willing to give that up for longer than a week or so. In Thailand she always felt like a 3rd class citizen. Here, she’s equal.
– Citizenship. I hired a lawyer to do the heavy lifting,
– Don’t run her life and don’t treat her like one of your children. Help when asked, but don’t become a slave to doing things she should be doing herself. It should not take longer than 2 – 3 years before she’s mostly assimilated.
– And please, men, do not run her life, restrict her movements, friends, jobs, etc.. And don’t let her use you this way.
There’s a lot more.. from teaching her to change tires, schedule auto maintenance, taking the dog to the vet, learning to cook American food, there’s a lot.. the key is she must be in control.