It occurs to me that if I do not make some notes about my various acquaintances here at the condo I will certainly forget them, almost all of them. “The condo” is a nice place near my university here in Bangkapi, a neighborhood in east Bangkok with lots of Thai Muslims, more than a few Africans here for one reason or another, and a good sprinkling of white foreigners but not so many that you would notice at the mall. It’s fairly cosmopolitan without being at all touristy.
Michael is Australian, probably Indian via Australia. He has some kind of heavy-equipment franchise for multiple countries, and he travels quite a bit. He’s a big guy who looks very, very strong, and he’s got a big voice to match. About fifty years old. He is very friendly to everybody, but with undertones of the sadness that is often found in expats. A sadness, if I may wax personal for a moment, that is mitigated by the adventure of living abroad and reduced by the absence of the triggers that are present in the home country. Michael doesn’t seem to be a womanizer, but his personal life is on the down-low so I couldn’t be sure. I hope he’s happy.
Peter is gone already. His lifestyle here includes moving every six months. He was a very friendly guy, not afraid to sit and talk on occasion, but there is only one reason to move every six months. He said that it was so that he could experience different neighborhoods, but you can do that from a home base. I had the feeling that after six months he had too many acquaintances that he felt obliged to stop and talk to. So, time to move. No social pressure to talk to anybody in a new place, not for a few months anyway.
Peter is English, but he carries two passports, U.K. and Ireland. This could be another way to dodge social responsibilities. Mid-fifties, trim and not unattractive, but overly shy is my guess. Never saw him with a woman either. Some of these guys keep their cards close to their vests.
Dieter is a retired Wermacht armored warfare training officer. He’s a huge, Faustian man with a dangerous handshake, I have to be careful to quickly grab him by the fingertips or else my hand hurts for two days. Dieter has a wonderful Thai wife in her early fifties; he’s early seventies himself. Ten years post heart attack, he’s been in Thailand for six years now. He has no desire to go back. Germany is a very demanding social situation, and the pace of life is frantic. Many of us come to Thailand for the “sabai-jai,” which is very close to the German word “gemuetlich,” something close to “easy-going.”
Dieter’s condo, which he owns, is full of actual German furniture, expensive stuff that he bought on a trip home and shipped to Bangkok. I like Dieter a lot. He even lets me “dutz” him, we talk frequently in a combination of German, English and Thai words, and we use the familiar form of address. I hope that he’s happy.
An American, for a change, so close to fifty that he could hit it with a thrown baseball. Rod is a translator by trade, he works the intersection of French, Dutch and English. He could do the work anywhere he had a decent Internet connection. He likes the low overhead here, among other things. Let’s just say that Rod’s not a womanizer and leave it at that. Rod’s a great guy, and I’ll probably know him even after we all move.
Miscellaneous Rich, Young Iranians
It’s such a shame that our two countries can’t seem to get along, because I really like the Iranians that I have met. Plenty of Iranians in L.A., and I knew and worked with quite a few. We’ve got a few here at the condo, and they are a good bunch too. Gracious, intelligent and well dressed, I wish them all well, wherever situated. I’m not surprised that certain rich, young Iranians would prefer to live in Thailand. I prefer it myself, to my own country, which is still slightly easier to handle than Iran.
Another American with the potential to be a long-term friend. Chris is about fifty-three, he’s built like a pale, handsomer Hulk. He does triathlons, and thinks nothing of setting off for ten-mile-plus bike rides around Bangkok on the surface streets. Chris has a Thai wife who seems hard working and not a gold-digger at all. She has a nail parlor and Chris teaches English. I hope that they’re happy.
Baku is a graduate student of engineering at a Catholic university nearby. He’s a great kid and I really like him. He’s Kuwaiti. He took it very well when I asked him if he was from Azerberjian (sp), after all the capitol of Azerberjian is Baku. I was happy to meet Baku’s dad when he visited, and to tell him what a fine son he had. Shameless, I know, but I do what I can to encourage international brotherhood. Baku seems to have a pretty full social life, certainly fuller than would be possible back in the Middle-East.
Not technically a resident of the condo, but a regular visitor. One of the most interesting guys I know, Eddie is a retired California high school math teacher. Eighty years old and black, Eddie divides his time between Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand, his property in Hawaii, and visits to see his children in the States. Eddie doesn’t talk about women, but my guess is that his dance card is still pretty full.
Gerry’s in the tour business, so he’s on the road a lot. He’s a very lively companion when he’s around though, and it’s always good to see him at the coffee meetings. He’s the most international person that I know. He’s of mixed English and South East Asian heritage, and grew up in at least Malaysia and Great Britten. Five siblings in his family, and these days they live in four countries on as many continents. He’s an easy-going and very friendly guy, and I’m sure that he gets along very well anywhere in the world. He has a nice Thai wife and I hope that they are both very happy.
David is a grad student around here somewhere. He’s from Tanzania, the part where most people are Christian. (I forget which is which, the island or the mainland.) David is a very bright, personable young man, anybody would like him immediately. He’s a tall, trim handsome guy, that blacker-than-black that is much more common in Africa than it is in America. He’d like to stay in Thailand after he graduates, which I think is only sensible. I hope that all of his dreams come true.
The Japanese Family Man
I feel bad that I don’t remember this fellows name, we’ve spoken so many times. He’s in his early thirties I’d say, married to a Cambodian woman, they have two children. They are one of the handsomest families in the world, without a doubt. All four of them, if you met them, you’d say, wow, that’s a handsome man; a beautiful woman; extravagantly attractive child. All very nice too. Loving couple; well adjusted children. The older boy speaks Cambodian with his mom, understands Japanese but choses to respond in Thai or English. He floats effortlessly between these languages. So they are wildly international, this family. I’m happy to know them.
Miscellaneous Antisocial Runaways
Oh, I’m not being cruel, Thailand is full of them. Guys who couldn’t get laid in their home countries if they found themselves in a whore-house with a stack of hundred dollar bills; guys with appetites that they could not quench back home; guys that just can’t get along with anybody; guys with personalities so disagreeable that the only thing they can do is move to a place where they don’t speak the language and where teaching English is a readily obtainable job. We’ve got those, from a long list of countries. Some of them can’t look anybody in the eye; some chose not to. Some are scrounges; some deeply disturbed; some merely shit-for-brained. We’re lucky, I suppose, only one seems like he could be actually dangerous.
The Football Players
We now have a group of African football (soccer) players living here in rentals. A big energy drink company with its headquarters in the area hired a team wholesale and installed them here. They are a good bunch. I see them in Thai Premier League games on TV sometimes, I root for them. Many of them have home-country wives or girlfriends in tow. I wish them all well.
That’s all that I’m remembering right now. It’s a start. Maybe it’s not even interesting, to anybody but me that is. Might come in handy someday though, after the forgetting has gotten well under way.