In an earlier article “A Reply To Larry”, the author expressed doubts as to the survival of this internet site. Stick answered with an unequivocal “this site will continue”. Adding that the readers’ submission section obviously depended on contributions. Naturally! I for one am happy to send in my monthly stories. However, that depends on suitable material, my inspirations, desire, and ability to put it in suitable words. But more so, there is another important element. And here I borrow the words of master storyteller Jeffrey Archer introducing his latest bestseller “Nothing ventured”.…the hopes for longevity – mine, not yours.
Every 10 days or so I take a trip to Central Chidlom on lower Sukhumvit. My long-time and preferred shopping mall. Amongst other things I stock-up on the food & wine I go for. And of course, ingredients for my own cooking and baking ventures. Products not always or easily available in Tesco-Lotus or Big-C. On the mall’s ground floor, less than 50 metres from the entrance to the food hall there is a sales booth offering skin care & other cosmetic products. It’s named LA PRAIRIE. It even displays a nice picture or drawing of the once famous clinic at the origin of the name, situated above Lake Geneva, near Montreux.
A month ago, passing by on my way to the food outlet I saw a man talking to the salesgirls. A familiar face. I stopped and looked at him more closely. He turned to me and smiled. He too had recognized me. Dr Hans, of course, how could I forget. We decided that the impromptu meeting called for a drink and a chat. Thus, we found ourselves two floors up in the local Greyhound Café. It was early afternoon. I asked for an Expresso. Hans requested Coffee & Sacher Torte. That’s called Americano or Latte with a brownie these days here, I corrected. Past the inevitable how are you, you look great, how’s life treating you, whatever happened to your wife, Na? Many more questions followed. You must be long retired now, Hans? I knew he was around my age. Not a young man any longer. Yes, he answered, and after a prolonged silence, well, let us say to about 95% anyway. Tell me about the other 5% then. And what were you doing chatting up girls at a ladies beauty-crème outlet? I will tell you, Hans answered, but let us go back for a moment and reminisce those great days and weeks a generation ago when we first met.
The mid-1990’s. I call it the halcyon days of Phuket tourism. Not that Dr Hans was a tourist. He came to live in Phuket. Down from Bangkok, his prior home for a few months. He had travelled in an old, second-hand VW-bus purchased specially to travel to the island. Packed with furniture, various boxes, kitchen, and other equipment. I helped him unpack in his new house close to my own rental abode at the time. There was a girl with him. He mentioned her casually almost as if she was just a part of the furniture in the van. I didn’t want to make the long drive all on my own, he added.
A week or two later his son arrived from Germany for a short holiday. It turned out to be even shorter than expected when after a few days they both turned up at my house I shared with my then girlfriend Ruang asking for a night’s shelter. His girlfriend in a drunken state had chased them both out of the house apparently armed with a big kitchen knife. I remember my dog was so frightened by the sudden intrusion of 2 big men he peed on the floor.
After he had gotten rid of that girl and his son returned to Germany, Hans went looking for a new partner. He found one in a somewhat unconventional way. In a beer-bar in Karon. Na was new to the bar-scene. She had travelled down to Phuket with her mother who placed her or more likely sold her to the bar. The mother returned home to the remaining children, presumably somewhere in the northeast and Na’s job now was to provide for her and the family’s future, their father heaving turned into a no-show, Na explained. Soon after Hans bought her out for a night. Na had already experienced several bar-fines by then. There was little joy in the coupling that night. But Hans liked her and wanted to keep her. Na was submissive, obedient and didn’t drink beer. Hans agreed to a sum, a monthly money transfer to her mother and Na settled in his house to stay. Not long after Hans moved to another house with a large outside terrace. For a time, we met there on Sunday afternoons for a kind of coffee-cake-gossip afternoon. That’s where he got the Dr Hans moniker, to us mostly German & English speaking farang. He had a family name too, but nobody could spell or pronounce it. So, we all called him Dr Hans and he was fine with that.
He really was a physician and was sometimes consulted for minor problems in our community. Though he had taken early retirement, he returned once or twice a year to his homeland for stints with the Bundeswehr (German army) where he held a sort of time-limited consulting job but never elaborated on it.
Time passed and several years later Hans & Na decided to get married and return to Germany. He sold his VW-bus to a friend. Over the years it had become his personal trademark and for months I was sure to have seen Hans in town when in fact it was the new owner of the bus. In a letter Hans told me later things were looking up. Na was learning German intensively and went back to school.
But back to the present and the part time job. Well, Hans continued, I supply wealthy or otherwise well-equipped Thais with what is best called a regenerative or rejuvenation potion. He followed up with a hearty laugh adding, a sort of fountain of youth. I already promoted the stuff in Bangkok when I stayed for 3 years in Thailand in the 90’s but did not tell the farang community in Phuket.
You will have to elaborate a bit on this. Sure, Hans went on. As a young man I made the acquaintance of a Professor that was to become famous. Dr Paul Niehans. A pioneering authority in rejuvenation and vitality science. When early success stories became well known he opened a clinic in Clarens, near Montreux in 1963. I was a student then in medical school when I first met Dr Niehans. Soon he became more famous and then successful. Over the years he treated clients of worldwide renown at his La PRAIRIE clinic. Charles De-Gaulle, Emperor Hirohito, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, members of the British Royal Family and Sir Winston Churchill to name just a few. Harvesting fresh embryo cells from New-Zealand black sheep and injecting them in a non-invasive therapy (intramuscular) into patients’ buttocks. I stopped Hans’s lengthy explanations here as I knew most of it already. Also, it would probably only be of little interest to Stickman readers.
So, I continued, you go to the la Prairie outlet in Chidlom to stock up on the rejuvenation potion, right? And then deliver it to Thai customers? And no doubt collect your own dose for you still maintain a youthful appearance and are in good shape. Another hearty laugh followed. Hell no, Hans replied. When I need to perform these days, I rely on proven medication, mostly in the form of little blue pills. Besides, perhaps you don’t know the rest of the story. Dr Niehans’s fresh cells therapy was later found to be of no objective benefit in treatment. Worse, decried to be no more than a quackery treatment by a medical charlatan.
But Niehans was not to be prevented to continue administering his miracle cures for many years even disgraced as he was. He died in the 1970’s. The brand name however has survived and doing well by my reckoning selling all sorts of beauty concoctions at Central. And no doubt many other places around the world, mostly in Europe and far Eastern countries according to Hans. The miracle crème or rejuvenation potion has also survived, but Hans is discrete on that matter. That is understandable. I have a supplier and know where to stock-up but cannot reveal any more, he concluded.
As for the girls at la Prairie outlet at Central, they are just that. Pretty young girls and the reason I stop there is to have a friendly chat that’s all, said Hans.
My turn to ask a few questions. But to start off I gave him this to chew on: You’re a medical doctor, Hans. At the outset of your career you took an oath to uphold the honor of the profession, yet you sell stuff that you know is probably useless. And no doubt for a good price.
Hans kept his calm and smiled. He knew my accusation was in jest. Would you slaughter the goose that lays golden eggs? No, I admitted quite honestly. Besides, Hans continued, if people really believe in something there is no way to dishearten them for all you may try. Also, all the information I’ve given you here or that you already have knowledge of is freely available for anyone to see on the internet. And I’m sure many of my clients have done just that and still continue to buy the rejuvenation potion. Who am I to tell them not to?
Enough of this, Hans said, let us talk about something else. Earlier on you asked me about Na, my Phuket girlfriend I married later. Well, we had many good years together. I insisted she learn proper German and educate herself. She did. And that was the reason we broke up in the end. She started to meet with people, got herself a job. And along came many temptations. She was a young and pretty girl. Looking back, I realize it was destined to failure from the outset. Even then, I was too old for her.
Since the breakup with Na I’ve travelled the world. Come to Thailand yearly, Malaysia and Vietnam occasionally. Here, in Bangkok, one year I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental enjoying a few days to relax and meet people. This year I’m stuck for a longer period because of Corona. I wanted to go to Dusit-Thani but it was closed or being demolished. The Marriott was not to my taste, I stayed for a few days only, too many Japanese, so now I stay at Landmark at a special Coronavirus tariff and with several excellent food outlets. Soon I hope to travel back to Germany hoping the restrictions will be lifted when I am due for next year’s visit.
The author of this submission can be contacted at : [email protected]