Five years after retiring to the village where my wife was born and grew up, the “honeymoon” is definitely over. I’m not talking about my wife’s and mine, which amazingly continues! I’m talking about my relationship with villagers and family.
Main village intersection, looking from within Nung's store, where I buy beer and get my hair cut. My motorcycle in front. Our village house is two houses beyond the white one.
When I first arrived, I was warmly welcomed by everyone, even my known adversaries. Over time, though, people’s enthusiasm for me and me for them has waned. I guess it’s natural.
But, there have been some incidents that have undoubtedly sped the process along.
Interestingly, most of the incidents have involved land in one way or another. About a third have involved family or family and land.
One that did not involve land was the time when I still had my samlor (tuk-tuk). I was on my weekly run to stock up on beer in the next village over (Ban Pak Wet). Leaving the store, I did a U-turn not far from the store’s front. A motorcycle rider and girl friend from our village saw my late into the turn and dumped her bike. She and her friend were shook-up, but OK and so was the motorcycle except for some scratches. Well, of course, she thought it was my fault despite the fact that she has only one eye and was going too fast and the store banner blocked part of the road. To her credit, though, after a while she put it behind her and didn’t even ask me to pay for scratch repair. At a recent village party, she even wanted me to dance with her and was happy when I did. But, you know the major damage was the talk that went around about me and my driving (which is absolutely better than most everyone).
Other “stories that go on” -- while they may have involved relatives -- I do not classify as “family incidents.” Some examples:
· At our village house, our neighbor and relative next door arranging her gray water line from the bathroom so it seeps onto our property. I caused a stink about that. It still continues to flow.
· Same neighbor likes to gamble and I have complained about her gambling friends parking on our property so they wouldn’t look like they were over gambling at her place. One day the police in plain clothes come by and ask where the owners of the motorcycles are. I point next door and the gamblers are busted. I didn’t gain any friends with that, but I wasn’t about to lie to the police.
· First year I was here, I heard a big party going on and went to investigate. One of the larger families in the village was having a New Year’s party. I was invited in and stayed for a little while. Later, I found out that the family collected money from all family members to attend and some did not take kindly to my “crashing” the party.
· Running kids out of our backyard.
· Running guys hunting lizards out of our back yard.
· Having to put up fences to keep human traffic from flowing thru our back yard.
· Building a bamboo fence from the bamboo our neighbor (Gam Nan, the head of the village) lets fall onto our property.
· Chasing away people stealing our mangoes in the front yard.
· Yelling at (which you don’t do in SE Asia) cow herders who don’t control their animals well enough to keep them from getting on your property -- cows love mangoes!
· Falling asleep one night -- after too many beers -- on the front patio. Scandalous, I tell you!
There are more, but these are the ones that come quickly to mind and just give you an idea of the kinds of things that “go on” in a Thai village. Interestingly, many of these problems were solved by Thip and I just moving out to the farm. I’m still around looking after the house and property in the village, but neither one of us is around long enough to have “stuff go on.”