Something New ..

The day began like many others. The soothing melodic voice of a Thai singer that always precedes the morning announcements over the horrid village loudspeaker. Hidden deep in the audio broadcast is some ominous, undetected message that only the village dogs respond to. They launch into a chorus of wolflike howls more suited for the wilds of Alaska or Yellowstone. The outside dogs are loud enough, but when the pup who sleeps inside joins in, the acoustical characteristics of our high ceiling produce an ear-shattering din.

What was to be unique about this day, was that for the first time in our lives we were going to have a maid. I know, there is probably a modern politically correct title like, senior executive household chores engineer, or some such thing. Then again, that just wouldn’t be me, now would it. Ends up she is a childhood friend who went to school with my wife.

The first prospect backed out, saying her son didn’t want her to work, but who knows what the real reason was. This one asked to talk it over with her husband first and then came back with a request for a higher salary. We liked her approach and understood her rational but, in the spirit of the game, knocked her price down by a little for the first 3 months as a trial period. Of course it is not a motivator to give people what they expect so if we like her we will give her a raise in advance of the third month.

She could make more money going off to the city to work longer hours but this way she gets to stay near her two children in the village. If things work out we will treat her like family so she most likely will be better off here, in the long run. People don’t always look that far down the road, however. They tend to look at numbers and not overall costs or perks.

An entertaining plus, for us, has been her updates on village gossip about us. People seem to be making a big deal of the notion that nobody comes to visit us. I guess that is meant to imply that we are friendless. They claim even my wife’s mother doesn’t come over. Well, not more than a couple times a day, anyway. A hundred meters is seen as way too far to walk and they seem to be afraid of our dogs. The dogs are a bit noisy but that is after all, their job. Without the draw of alcohol and gossip, which we don’t offer, there is little reason for the hoards to come a knocking on our door.

Other than their fear of our dogs, people questioned why our maid was not afraid of me, and was willing to work for us. Never thought of myself as the scary type but if it keeps people from annoying me then, whatever works. Over the years my wife has become quite good at explaining me to others, but often I prefer that she doesn’t. Don’t want people thinking I’m an easy touch or too approachable. Anyway this girl doesn’t seem to find me menacing or off putting in the least. Her presence around the house, so far, has not been an imposition for me either.

Last night she was a great help with our little wrap up party for the workers. Did I neglect to mention the we just finish surfacing the road and driveway? Well, they just finished poring the concrete last night and even helped us install our little spirit house which I hauled from Chiang Rai in the afternoon. Don’t know what we would have done without the additional six people to help us set it up.

It is a real beauty, though I’m sure that is not meant to be a major consideration in the selection and placement of a spirit house. My wife made a good faith effort to invite the spirits to move into their new accommodations. Don’t know that everything was done “correctly” but I would be suspicious of any spirit who didn’t want to inhabit such a lovely structure. For me it was all about the aesthetics and of course making my wife happy.

She expressed her concern at the shop, that the spirit house was perhaps a bit too expensive when I drew her attention to it. I explained that it was the only thing about our house that was the least bit Thai so felt it should be a nice one. To which her coy retort was, “It’s not the only thing Thai dear.” She is so cute like that. Always able to put me in my place and make me smile doing it.

So that should be the last of our big messy projects for a while. When the rains come we won’t get bogged down in the mud and it should provide a nice area for skateboarding, badminton or various other activities. When we are not around the spirits should look after things for us and if all else fails the dogs will do their job. For those who are not willing to run the gauntlet of honor to prove their worthiness, well, I guess we will just have to do without their company.