As I have written to tell you recently, I am currently living in Chiang Rai, Thailand. So far things are going really well and I am very much enjoying my life here. I love being in a new country and finding so many things to be unique and different than what I have experienced before. Every day there is something new to learn. A new word, a new phrase, a new custom that I had never been introduced to before. I am still very much feeling like an explorer in a new uncharted territory, and I find myself feeling alive and a bit excited most every day.
As I said in my last newsletter to you, I am transitioning, and as part of that transition Tony and I have put our podcasts to rest for the time being. We each learned a lot over the last year or so and we are both thankful to have had the opportunity to serve you.
The next part of my transition is cutting back these newsletters from twice a month to once a month. I am doing this so that I have the time to take part in the many work activities that are presenting themselves to me here.
Although you will not hear from me as frequently as before I hope you will stay tuned for more from me. I am not going away! Coaching members of the Seishindo community is still one of my passions in life and I am still very much available as a coach, so don’t hesitate to ask if you need some help from me. Also our Stress Management program is still very much alive and well, so do have a look and a listen.
The woman with a broken arm
After living as a “gaijin” (outside person) for 30 years in Japan I have become a “farang” living in Thailand. The term farang originally was meant to be anyone of European descent and I am not yet sure if the meaning now extends to any person who is not a Thai native.
Many of you have read my book “Pure Heart Simple Mind- Wisdom stories of a life in Japan” and the stories I share with you now will be similar in content and style. Today’s story is titled- “The woman with a broken arm”.
There is a store in my neighborhood that I am very intrigued by. It is quite a rundown shop with the front awning looking like it will collapse any day now. Indeed the awning is so bent over that I have to bend over to make my way inside. There aren’t any doors or windows in the store, and the woman owner has some metal fencing she puts up at night around the perimeter when she closes up. She sleeps on a small wooden frame bed that interestingly enough is placed pretty much in the middle of the store. She can be quite abrupt at times and I am guessing that a potential thief would not want to encounter her if they ever tried to break in.
When I recently mentioned the shop and the owner to my landlord, she said, “Back when most everything was legal you could get most everything there. Opium, hashish, and who knows what else, along with daily necessities. Actually I have never been in the store because I don’t get a good feeling whenever I pass by. One thing I do know though is that this woman is known to be tough and I guess she has to be to deal with her clientele.”
Nowadays opium and hashish are no longer on the menu but the woman does sell a good deal of home brewed alcohol. A number of scruffy looking guys hang around off to the side every day starting at about 4PM, sipping the alcohol in oversized shot glasses. I did let one of the clientele talk me into a small sip one day and my throat burned while my eyesight seemed to improve for about thirty seconds or so. I haven’t been drawn to have any more though, so I guess I will just have to settle for wearing eyeglasses instead!
Shortly after moving to my house the shop owner broke her left forearm. I have no idea how this happened, but I am pretty certain that she likes to have at least one or two drinks daily, so she might have lost her balance one night.
I walked into her shop one day to buy a few bottles of club soda which I often drink with a bit of ice when eating dinner, and the lady was out cold on her bed. It was around 2 in the afternoon and quite hot, and I couldn’t help but think that napping at this time of day was not a good idea as the inside of her shop is rather hot and stuffy. I had to call out several times to rouse her and she very definitely was not in a good mood when she woke up.
Speaking little to no Thai at the time, I still managed to lightly touch her upper left arm and then the area around her cast as I talked to her in a gentle voice, using by best English. She had no idea what I was saying but she did seem to soften some. After not more than a minute of giving her some healing energy I paid my bill and took off.
I went in again two days later, and she was awake and in a better mood than the last time. So I started touching her arm again and this time I lightly pulled on her fingers which were fairly swollen. Once again, my mini-treatment didn’t last for more than about a minute, and then I paid my bill and off I went.
The next time I went in there were a few customers standing around drinking and I thought it might not be appropriate to touch her and thus I just paid my bill. When she handed me my change she squeezed my hand and smiled at me and I felt wonderful in receiving her friendship and acknowledgement.
I never did a full treatment on her but I did actually get to the stage that I would work on her for about five minutes at a time, and she would wind up putting a small food treat in my bag as she said “Thank you” in Thai.
Now she has had her cast off for about a month and we are slowing becoming friends. What I have taken to doing is opening up a Thai language app on my phone before going into her shop and pulling up a phrase or two that I can say to her. She really gets a kick out of this and she has taken to introducing me to her customers telling them that “this farang is my friend.” She really enjoys our interaction, and most of the time she remembers the phrases that I spoke the last time and prompts me to repeat the phrases again. My ability to speak Thai is still totally primitive but she always tells whoever is around that I am learning so quickly!
These kinds of interactions with “everyday people” really add to the quality of my life and help me to feel “connected”. I am still very much a “gaijin” here, a “farang” but at the same time, step by step I feel that I am finding my way into the culture.
Please come and visit some time!