The Changing of Seasons ...

Gone is that fresh crisp chill, and occasional fog, of the early morning hours.  Though still pleasant enough, things are warming up, noticeably.  Gone too are our views of the mountains.  They are hidden behind the perennial pall of smoke and haze that permeates the region at this time of year.  Soon, I think very soon, I will find myself reluctant to head out on the mountain bike or motorcycle. 

There will be days when the urge will not be thwarted by temperature nor brown featureless vistas.  Those days will be fewer, however.  Though this winter was pleasant and punctuated by some memorable events, I am at least a little disappointed with myself.  I somehow feel the list of things I did not do, ended up much longer than the other list.  Well, perhaps next winter.

It is yet to be seen how the change of season will affect this strangely gregarious and more convivial nature, that has overtaken me of late.  Perhaps a phase.  Perhaps a measure of time and how long we have been living up here in the field.  Whatever the cause, I have been on a quest or hunt of sorts.  Visiting and corresponding with people we know, but also reaching out to strangers.

My wife’s Thai sensibilities leave her reluctant to talk to strangers.  You know, the whole family, village, school chums, fellow members, and introductions, thing.  Knowing how she feels, I refrain for the most part when in her presence, which is most of the time.  Yesterday at BigC, she turned her back for a moment and I got naughty.  Left guarding the heavily laden shopping basket I spied yet another farang nearby, faithfully performing the same valuable function.  Temporarily unleashed, I sprung into action and a conversation quickly ensued. 

Fortunately the timing was spot on, with my wife returning only shortly before the other guy’s wife joined us.  Introductions were made and then the wives were allowed to sort themselves out, while we continued our manly repartee.  The girls hit it off instantly and exchange phone numbers before the guys did.  My wife’s sister was with us but remained outside the circle, waiting for us.  She had a hard time understanding how we could have such a friendly and animated conversation with people we didn’t know.

I suppose there are a lot of reasons why foreigners snub each other while walking through the shopping center.  Surely not everyone is busy and pressed for time, however.  For me quite honestly, I think appearance and first impressions have something to do with it.  I know it is superficial of me but ugly, dirty, disheveled, or a dower expression are things I find hard to overlook.  On this occasion the guy looked slightly older but with an athletic appearance and a relaxed confident gait.  The wives were very close in age, maybe three years, and equally attractive. 

One does seem to notice more foreigners around these days, but they are few enough, that certain couples standout.  My wife later acknowledged that she had noticed this girl upstairs in the supermarket.  Finding her attractive and somewhat atypical for a farang wife.  Strangely she had not noticed that she was pregnant, however.  Hopefully we will all get together again, sometime.

Just the day before I was off on a bike ride and found myself enjoying a cappuccino and reading the Sunday paper, at the Doi Chang coffee shop.  On this occasion I struck up a conversation with quite an attractive young French girl.  As she entered looking somewhat lost, I noticed another guy sitting outside, light up when he saw her.  Perhaps she sensed his eagerness, but for whatever reason they did not make a connection.

We, however, ended up having an expansive wide-ranging conversation until I felt it was time for me to leave.  There is just something about an attractive face and personality that makes conversation so very easy.  Perhaps being happily married, and not on the prowl, makes me less threatening.  Then again they could just find me too old and fatherly.  Strange that, having never had the desire to be a father.  Anyway I have always been better with women than with men and it was a pleasant conversation.

After a little errand for my wife, I headed home along the river route and met yet another farang on the side of the road working in his yard.  Later I found my thoughts drifting to my past and how I have interacted with people.  A few things came to mind.  For example, I like low maintenance relationships.  There was a time in Bangkok when I was on TV, and later working at a five star hotel, where basically everyone knew me and I needed to make little or no effort socially.  Squash served a similar function later on.

In the Rai, with our location being somewhat isolated, I have reexamined groups and organizations as a way to meet people and found them lacking, so have struck out on my own.  Slowly I am finding that when I am in town, I either bump into someone I know or am able to meet someone new.  I return home with a feeling of satisfaction.  Something akin to a successful hunt.  My circle of acquaintances is expanding as is my enjoyment of our trips to town.  This is a good thing since I am notoriously bad at planning and making appointments.  I still prefer a spontaneous encounter.

So are you the type who sticks with family and a close, closed circle of friends?  Or are you going through a phase, like me, where you are making that first move and meeting new people?  How do you respond when a stranger says hello?