Daeng will appear in a minute all battered, bruised and drunk . In fact it does not even shock me any more, I just put it down as part of every day Thai life. I have lost count of the number of occasions I have witnessed this. The first time I thought he had been beaten to a pulp by a gang or something, but apparently it is his wife that hands out the beatings with an old cooking pot.
What a terrible woman I thought, but like any story it has two sides. Daeng is a Thai male, friend of the family and a lot of fun. In fact almost anything he does is centred around having fun, Daeng takes very little seriously at all. It is well documented that the Thai likes to involve fun in as much of life as they can and why not it’s not a bad philosophy to have, but Dang takes it to the limits and beyond.
The park, Nakhon Sawan
Meet and Greet time
In the early days my wife used to do one of those meet and greet sessions each time we returned to visit Nakhon Sawan in Thailand and it took me a couple of trips to get wise to it. What generally happens is that we go off to visit one relative and I am told it will not take long (and yes I have asked), then it turns in to visiting the rest of the surrounding area. You start by visiting one aunty who then says let’s go round and visit so and so, in the end it’s like musical chairs without the chairs as you sit on the floor at twenty different venues. By the end of the evening I am doing well to hide my very bad mood that has come from wasting an entire day and evening plus close to being in a coma from all the nodding and smiling I have been doing with relatives.
I have never been one for visiting relatives in England and had not intended to make a habit of it here either. It is different when we all go out to eat I really love that about every day Thai life, more space and freedom I guess and a lesser feeling of awkwardness. It’s probably back to that westerner and space issue I suppose and I do like my space and solitude.
Today though however things would be different, we were to round the relatives up and take them with us instead. My wife wanted to go and see her Father who lived about 14 miles outside of the centre of town and as per normal it was the usual ” how to get 13 adults and 5 children in the back of the pick up truck and still have room for all the food and drink that was going with us”. My face must be a picture to the Thais as I look on with mouth open, wondering how many more are going to attempt to get in. However with shoes removed and stacked in an organised fashion at one end of the tail board of the pick up, we were ready to roll.
how many are going?
A drum and a bottle of lao khao white whisky
Among the passengers was Daeng, a mid thirties fun-loving drunken Thai man with a drum and a bottle of Lao Khao (white whisky). I had always given Lao Khao a wide berth after seeing how it had burned holes through the lining of the stomach of my wife’s father, you could use the stuff to strip paint off with. After being offered some of the potion by Daeng I politely refused preferring to stick with the occasional Singha beer.
The trip was just full of singing, drumming and laughter and I had to admit that even I found Daeng quite funny. The man was putting on a virtuoso performance with impressions, jokes, singing, drumming and general larking about.
The arrival at Fathers house saw no change as Daeng drummed and danced around the whole two hours we were there, stopping only occasionally to drink more Lao Khao. Father who is 84 years old with bad knees, kept a constant smile from Daeng’s entertaining and quite often he broke in to full laughter. It was nice to see such pleasure on the old man’s face, it made a welcome change from the usual pain etched expressions.
Life in Nakhon Sawan
What did you call me?
It was not long before Daeng turned his fun and games on to me as he began testing out my Thai name calling skills. This game is not to be entered in to unless you are absolutely sure you are both joking, and even then it can be dodgy. A disagreement with a drunk and angry Thai is not the sort of situation you want to find yourself in and that’s regardless of male or female. However I felt sure I had the skills to keep it light-hearted and fun. Each unpleasant Thai name he called me I came back with a reply to his and the watching audience’s total surprise.How does the Farang know so many names in Thai they asked. With each word we exchanged a ”phuut len” (basically translated as only joking). I think that day we formed a slightly deeper bond or as deep as possibly a Thai and Farang can reach.
One step forward and two steps back
A laugh a minute he certainly was to many, but to his wife and family he was completely useless and took none of his responsibilities seriously. Sacked from jobs for never appearing on time if he appeared at all, drunken days with friends acting the clown and took womanising to another level
On the other hand Laddawan (Daeng’s wife) worked hard at the markets selling vegetables. She would be there by 5.00am selling many varieties of the freshest vegetables, Laddawan knows that her customers rise early to buy vegetables and that she must start early. When the vegetables have been sold it will be time to carry out the family duties, before returning to crop her vegetables for the next day’s trading. Life for Laddawan was hard and the money small as she works so hard to provide for her family.
The hard working Laddawan
For Laddawan it was like taking one step forward and two steps back, the more merit and good reputation she created the more Daeng held her back with his ways. Daeng had promised to change, but never quite got around to it. He made several attempts that looked promising, but demons at work are hard to ward off.
The bruises Daeng suffered were the result of the total hopelessness and humiliation that Laddawan suffered, a woman scorned if you like.
Night market Nakhon Sawan
Daeng will be here in a minute
I was thinking to myself that Daeng will be here in a minute all battered, bruised and drunk, but oddly enough he did not appear. Where was he, Daeng always appeared around now. Word came through via phone from a friend, that Daeng never made it back home last night. On returning to town from my wife’s father, Daeng continued to drink.
Daeng had been knocked off of his scooter on the way home, by a massive haulage truck and died instantly. Laddawan had been informed, but had still gone to sell her vegetables at the market. At first I was shocked that she had taken so little notice of this tragic news, but then again the poor woman probably knew this would happen some day, it was just a matter of when.
He lived a life of clowning around and promising to change, she lived a hard life of non stop work and no gain, perhaps in a way both were now free.
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