"Come to our house for New Years! We're having a little party for some friends."
I tried to picture it, but I left room for surprises, I've been around this block before. "We" is a nice young couple, both Ajan's, professors of some junior stripe. He was kind enough to pick me up, and insisted on driving me home too, home I could have taken a cab. We got there and it was one of the most lavish, palatial gated communities in Thailand, no lie, up the block there was a giant party thrown by a big time general, army, at the home of his wife number three (at the same time, of course), which was so elaborate that at midnight they had their own fireworks and it was like Dodger Stadium, there must have been fifty helmeted police there, and all of the help were dressed as cowboys and the guests got hats and bandannas too.
My party was less elaborate, but my host turned out to be a big shot too. It was the Ajan wife's family; her father was the president of our university for almost fifteen years, now semi-retired and on the board of directors. I made him love me before I found out he was so big time, that worked out pretty good.
Lots of university big-wigs were there, we all got pretty lit. The food was great, including rack-of-lamb chops, New Zealand, and Australian red wine, not cheap. There was an endless stream of people dropping by to give the boss a giant gift basket for New Years, on their knees no less, this is grown, rich people.
Quite a lot of talk about politics, even direct questions to me. I protested that I was just a guest in Thailand and answered elliptically. Politics here is besides the point, the culture is really in the driver's seat, politics just gets the garbage picked up. As it should be.
All in all, a very good use of my time.