Aging and Appreciations
Am I thankful about getting older? I’d love to say yes, but that would be a lie. However, I do have appreciations to people who made getting older a lot less painful.
Having a birthday on a Friday is fantastic thing. My colleagues and students were sweet. Kru Goy got me a traditional Lanna (northern Thai) style shirt in my favorite color. She and the students made me a card with a lotus flower on it for my Thai name Bua (lotus).
On the evening of my birthday I made plans to go into town for yoga and out for sushi with two friends. It had been a sweltering day so I was not totally shocked when my car overheated and wouldn’t start again.
Naturally, it was not in the the best spot during rush hour traffic and 95 degree weather, so I got out of my car and asked someone to help me push my car to the side of the road.
I could have done 2 things in this situation:
1 – This sucks! Oh this f-ing piece of s–t car! I’m missing yoga! My plans are ruined and it’s my birthday, anger and pity party for one…on and on like that.
2 – Well, looks like my car overheated, let’s focus on a solution.. “Khap khun khaa” (Thanks) for the push to the side of the road, “Rawn maak!” (it’s very hot while motioning to the car). Pop the hood, trust that the Thai person, named Noy, would help me, while trying to communicate in my rudimentary Thai and smile.
I chose option 2 and this is what happened: Noy got some water and started putting it in the engine and asked his daughter to go get some more and sent her in search of coolant maybe? She came back and said some things to me in Thai that I didn’t understand. They were clearly trying to help me, but there was a language barrier. Let’s be honest though, do I know all about car parts in English?
Suddenly, I realized I knew a bilingual mechanic whose number was in my phone! As I was talking to him, Noy had called one of his friends who knew English so she could explain to me what was going on. So we switched phones to communicate with our respective cell phone interpreters, as you do.
Next thing I knew a mechanic showed up (maybe this is the what or who the daughter went in search of?) He spoke a little English and explained what was wrong basically saying, “Hot. Need water. Broken.” Noy and daughter left me with Aoun the mechanic and I thanked them profusely.
In the meantime, my friend Kate who I was supposed to meet for yoga and dinner, lives in the opposite direction, but offered to pick me up. How kind! Then I talked to Yuzu, my other friend I’d be meeting, who would be passing by here on her motorbike and she offered to pick me up, which made more sense.
Back at the car in our fundamental Thai and English, Aoun communicated to me I’d blown a gasket. OK. I should keep refilling the water. OK. I should not drive my car too far. OK. The charge for this roadside assistance $0. I will take my car to him later.
I drove my car the short distance home and Yuzu drove me to town that night. She, Kate, and I had a delightful evening of sushi then 2 1/2 hour spa – foot massage, Thai massage, herbal compress massage, and facial. Relaxing, refreshing and so inexpensive!
The next evening my friend Azriel and I got tea at a very European style cafe in the Old City. On the way there he stopped at one of the many street food stands and said, “I love these Thai donut things, but they’re so unhealthy.” I responded that I really don’t like donuts, but I do have a sweet tooth for chocolate cake. After we sat down at our booth, I saw him talking to the waitress and thought he was telling her it was my birthday. Then he came back and said, “Do you want to share a cookie?” Ok, why not. About 30 minutes later, I turned bright red while being serenaded the birthday song by the entire wait staff and was given this:
Everyday I am humbled by the kindness and generosity of Thai people, and this weekend my expat friends too. I think its true that ‘when you smile, the world smiles back’. It might not be possible to be a ray of sunshine every moment, but if I find something negative, I try to also find something positive. Somehow that seems to work. This advice was given to me by a priest in high school, and a monk has shared similar information with me here. You know what, those guys just might be on to something.
I am now half the King’s age, and we were both born on a Monday, could that be auspicious? A big thank you to all the people here who made my birthday special, and all those faraway who sent their wishes. You are the best!