Vol. VI No. 22 - Tuesday
July 24, - July 30, 2007



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MAILBAG
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Edna visits an Akha hilltribe

A very thorough search at Tescos

 

Edna visits an Akha hilltribe

Dear Editor,
My little letter box has been overwhelmed by messages from your very intelligent readers imploring me to conclude the tale of my trip to the Akha tribe in the hills above Mae Taeng, where I went in search of a chastity belt for my teenage daughter Tabatha.
So there we were in the parish pickup truck ascending a rough and slippery dirt track, the rotund Sister Mary Garson at the wheel bouncing up and down merrily on an inflated inner tube, my equally well rounded Downes syndrome daughter at the window and me, ‘slender Glenda’ as my late lamented hubbie used to call me, sitting in between like a slither of salami betwixt two monstrous meat balls.
On reaching the hill tribe village, after a grueling five hour journey, Sister Mary went off to greet the village headman. Tabatha immediately befriended a gaggle of little children and went off to play on a rope swing with them. Poor little mites, raggedy t-shirts that could do with a good scrub with over-sized football shorts and not a pair of shoes between them. But they seemed happy enough. My Tabby has a great gift for making friends. It’s one of her many qualities. She has no inhibitions, which reminds me why we’re here.
I went off in search of Sister Mary passing a few scrubby huts on stilts with chickens running about underneath and the odd sow feeding an assortment of runts. There was an old woman in a trilby hat crouched down in a doorway smoking a pipe. I took a whiff of it and it made me come over all squiffy. I can’t imagine what the old girl had pushed into her pipe, but it clearly tickled her fancy whatever it was. Then I noticed a couple of teenage girls who were busy applying lipstick and asked them to direct me to the headman. I was glad to see they had learnt how to cover up their breasts in the interim. The Reverend Donald can be thanked for that. They took me to the headman who was holding up a variety of chastity belts for Sister Mary to inspect. For some peculiar reason she sniffed each one. They looked very similar to the hats the Akha women wear. Black, a very sensible color for the purpose because I wont be taking it off to wash more than once a week, embroidered with pink, yellow and green cotton and replete with little silver balls, old coins and rather dubious looking seeds. Sister Mary was shaking her head because none of them would fit Tabatha. She’ll have to have one made to measure, she said. So off I went to fetch her to the fitting room.
She was still on the rope swing and pushing the other children away when I found her. Most of them were now crying. The old woman with the pipe has been called in to do the measuring and the fumes from her burnt out old bowl infiltrated every dry crevice in the hut, but fortunately it had a calming effect on Tabatha who was on the verge of one of her tantrums. Sister Mary took a keen interest in the finer measurements of the fitting, which was fortunate as I was virtually keeling over as a result of the strangely intoxicating odor being emitted by the old woman.
I don’t recall much after that. I know we had to sleep over on a very hard floor and that I was interfered with by a pig’s snout in the middle of the night. I also vaguely remember eating something filthy off a banana leaf. But as for the rest it’s all a blur. Suffice to say we have returned safe and sound to Chiang Mai and the Akha women, ever enterprising, are selling the embroidered chastity belts in the Night Bazaar. 600 baht if you bargain. And so everyone is happy, except for the sly squid salesman who has been thwarted in his lascivious designs on my daughter’s nuptial dowry.
Blessings to you all,
Edna Gosling (Mrs)

 

A very thorough search at Tescos

Dear Editor:
I am a 60 year old professor who has taught at medical schools in Thailand for over 10 years. Last Sunday, my wife, who is also a retired university instructor, and I made a small purchase at Lotus Tesco Kamthieng consisting of a can of tennis balls, an extension cord, a plastic watering can and a container of wet towelettes to clean the computer screen. We paid for our purchases, dropped the receipt in the bag and exited the store.
Imagine our surprise when we were physically stopped by the security person who had watched us pay for our purchases. This person searched our bag for several minutes without asking for the receipt. When the receipt was offered, the person continued to search the small bag, taking each item out at least two times and comparing it in detail to the receipt. As no time were we offered “excuse me” or “thank you” or even a cursory explanation. We finally left, after attracting many stares and becoming quite embarrassed. We have no idea why we were searched as nobody else was searched either before or afterwards. It was such an unpleasant experience that we complained (yes, we speak Thai) to the Customer Service representative who responded by doing absolutely nothing but giggling.
We have shopped at Lotus since it opened in Chiang Mai, but no more. We have no problem producing receipts or allowing the usual check of purchases, but a check, recheck and third check of such a small purchase was ridiculous. We won’t subject ourselves to that again.
Sincerely,
SA Padua, PhD



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