Coffee, Conversation, Questions ...

After a morning ride on the Ninja, I used to find my way to the Doi Chaang coffee shop more often than not, until Starbucks opened at the new mall last month.  With the late opening times of the mall, Starbucks is not suited to the early risers but I seldom get into town before ten or eleven in the morning anyway these days.  Doi Chaang in the early morning had a core group of local farangs who one could visit with, but it tended to always be the same folks.  Depending on your mood, or your likes and dislikes, that could be either a good thing or perhaps a little annoying at times.

I have been meeting a broader range of people at the mall, not better, just different.  There are those I have known for sometime and bump into at the mall, though not necessarily in a coffee shop.  There are of course the coffee drinkers, like me, and many of them have been new acquaintances, both tourists and new arrivals to the area.  Where I was usually the one to make first contact before, recently the tables have been turned, and I find myself on the receiving end of other’s advances.  I assure you I am not complaining here.

I recently stumbled into an empty Starbucks, nestled my helmet into the comfortable armchair next to me and draped my jacket over that, before slumping unceremoniously into a chair myself.  Out came the phone to make my daily call to my father in Hawaii.  After that, and while in the process of texting a friend, someone said something to me, which at this point I can no longer recall the details of.  Familiar with this kind of approach, I bade him join me in one of the vacant armchairs across from me.

The text complete, I indicated there was one more item on my agenda before I would be free.  After calling my wife to let her know where I was, as is my custom, it was time to start a conversation with this interesting interloper.  He was polite enough to apologize for imposing upon my space and hospitality.  I in turn, assured him that it was only fitting payback, that someone should do to me, what I had done to so many others.  That seemed to set the tone for a frank and lighthearted discourse which at times trended toward the deep and philosophical.

Early on I realized I had neglected to order, so imposed upon one of the staff to bring my regular drink, so as not to break the flow of conversation.  In Starbuck-speak, that would be a ‘for here, grande, extra hot, cappuccino’, served in one of their nice mugs, not a paper cup.   Generally Starbucks is a self-service establishment but Thai service staff can be quite accommodating.  While I am not inclined to reveal the details of what we discussed, let us just say I had a very enjoyable time, and the length of that time, passed almost unnoticed.

I have a bad habit of glancing about during conversation, which caused me to spot one of my wife’s more attractive friends here in the Rai.  She went out of her way to come in and say hello briefly, in that very friendly way Thais have.  Big smiles, abundant pleasantries, bracketed by a delicate ‘wai’, or Thai greeting, at the beginning and end.  That reminds me, I bumped into two other old-timers and one of their wives, on the way in from the car park.  I suppose I could have lingered there, instead of rushing off to have my coffee, but I have had that conversation recently and would have missed the chance meeting with someone new.

Some of you are perhaps wondering what was so special about this day or this mystery person, and why I chose to write about this encounter, instead of this morning’s visit by the village headman, discussing something about the local temple.  The point is, it was not that special.  It was not a special day or event.  I never got his name.  We will surely never cross paths again.  It was just one of life’s more pleasant interludes, spontaneous, unscripted, fleeting, and yet memorable.  It was just the crisscross, happenstance nature of people and lives crossing paths on a particular day.  Not unlike a sunset that you will never see again but was still worth seeing.

Often we get caught up in the illusory pursuit of productivity and a purposeful existence.  Fortunately I am at a place in my life where I can live freeform and unstructured, free to enjoy simple unexpected encounters.  Then if the mood strikes me I am free to write about said nonevents.  Though it is implied that you are also free to not read what I write, it is hoped that you will and that you will get something from it.

Near the end of our conversation my blog did come up and I was asked who reads me.  I had to think about that one for just a moment.  I have asked on numerous occasions, why people read my blog but I don’t believe I have ever asked specifically, who is reading.  I have always assumed it is not the tourist but someone who has a relationship with or a connection to Thailand and is perhaps living elsewhere, using me as their Thailand fix, as it were.  Over time I have noticed a very strong readership within Thailand itself which has me in a quandary.  One would think, people who live here would have their own views on Thailand and would have less need or interest in reading about others who live here.  Perhaps my own bias is creeping into that opinion but it would be interesting to know.

So what do you say?  Who reads me?  Do you live in Thailand?  Are you new to the game or have you lived here for some time?  Did you once live in Thailand but now live elsewhere?  Are you married or in a relationship with a Thai?  Are you considering a relationship with either a Thai person or Thailand itself but have yet to make the move?  Have you visited or are you planning to visit?  Enquiring minds want to know.