Chiang Mai FeMail
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A “Golden” life - a Golden Wedding Anniversary

“Pink is the colour of life”

News in Briefs

 

Welcome to this week’s FeMail! It’s good to be able to report a joyful story amidst all the doom and gloom these days, hopefully it’ll make us stop and think about the really positive aspects of our own lives! A core aspect of the Buddhist way of life is that one should live one day at a time, one minute at a time, which rather negates the worrying about the future that most of us indulge in with considerable effect on our stress levels.
A certain kind of “expectation” is built in to Western lifestyles; during a conversation at dinner last night I was told that “many expats living here on early retirement are considering, for financial reasons, returning to work for a few more years in their home countries as they can no longer afford the same lifestyle in Chiang Mai as they had in the West.” Hmmmm. My friend went on to describe that lifestyle - eating out three or four times a week at a good restaurant, holidays “abroad”, etc, etc - why did I feel that, somewhere, a point was being sadly missed? In the UK, the media is crammed with stories about how the huge number of immigrants flooding into that small island are failing to integrate into Western society and prefer to stay in their own communities without even trying to learn English. Every story details how destructive this is to a cohesive society. Sounds familiar?? How many Thais do you know who eat out in “good” (expensive) restaurants three or four times a week? How many of us farangs are able to communicate effectively in Thai? Take the point? And please excuse me if I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for those expats on the point of returning home “for financial reasons”!

A “Golden” life - a Golden Wedding Anniversary

Congratulations to Rose and Mike Dean

Tess Itura
Life is a journey - we all travel the same long road. It winds, bends, takes us through familiar and unfamiliar country, past beauty and ugliness, and ultimately ends. The downside of this amazing experience, however, is that the road has no signs and no directions! From the moment that we take out first steps to the moment we reach the end, we never, ever, know where it is taking us.

Mike and Rose at last month’s Hillside Rooftop charity event.

Rose and Mike’s road took them, together, half way across the world several times, and brought them eventually to Thailand and to Chiang Mai, where, on February 9, they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with their many friends. In these days of instant marriage and even more instant divorce, theirs is a story which must be told - the story of a journey taken, not only in miles, but in their hearts.
Born in South Africa during the time of Apartheid, Rose, as a child, first met Mike on a local beach. Only 10 years old, she told her mother, “I’m going to marry him!” 5 years later the two teenagers began dating - 6 years after that, on February 9, 1958, they were married in an Orthodox Synagogue in Port Elizabeth, and the great journey began.
In 1974, living in Durban and already unhappy about the devastating effects of Apartheid, Rose and Mike were appalled to learn of the then newly elected South African Government’s plans to entrench the system still further. Emigration became the only possibility. Friends in Perth, Australia, sent details of life in the city, and instructions to “Pack your bags and come”. Which is exactly what they did, bringing Rose’s Mum with them as well! Helped by the strong presence in Perth of the peaceful and non-judgemental Baha’i faith, in which the couple had become interested whilst still in South Africa, settling in to their new life was a joyful experience. 6 months later they formally committed themselves to Baha’i, and it remains the primary influence in their lives to this day.
Mike, previously employed in accounting and finance, took the Baha’i spirit of helping others to heart, and became a paramedic with the ambulance service, a position which he held for 19 years, as well as taking on the responsibility of becoming a Justice of the Peace from 1980 until his retirement. The 4 foot 11 inch tall powerhouse that was Rose proceeded to run various successful single owner businesses whilst looking after Mike, bringing up her son and achieving considerable success as a watercolourist! After Mike’s retirement in 1997, the road of life became a real, very long, but never lonely one, as the decision was taken to “Go on the Wallaby” - for Poms, Yanks and other non-Oz readers, this charming expression refers to getting in your camper van and going everywhere on the continent of Australia at least once! That camper van, nicknamed “Gotta Go”, and its later replacement “Way to Go”, was Rose and Mike’s home for the next six life-changing years of travelling and freedom. Freedom led them to travel abroad as well during that wonderful time, and resulted in 2-3 months a year spent in - you guessed it! - Chiang Mai. In the early months of 2007, they came again to the city and finally made the decision to stay for at least several years. Rose tells that reinforcement of that decision arrived quickly; having been concerned about the time it might take to sell their home and dispose of their effects, an offer for both the house and its contents was received and accepted within three days of their arrival back in Oz!
July 2007 found them back in Chiang Mai in a pretty little rented condo in the Nakornping block, perfect for their needs for the next several years, until, at the Expats’ Club Christmas lunch, the road turned again. A song by an entertainer at the event included the words “here I will live, and here I will die”. Rose and Mike, looking at each other with love and realisation in their eyes, decided, together, at that moment to live in the city they love for the rest of their lives.
Their road is not ended yet, nor will it, we hope, for many years, but the milestone of their 50th wedding anniversary is cause for much celebration, not just for Rose and Mike but for all of us who know them. They are truly beautiful people, whose kindness, caring and understanding underlines their every action. We are proud to know them. Perhaps the last word should go to Michael, “Marriage is like a fine sandpaper; it continually wears a way the rough edges until it achieves a smooth finish!”

 

“Pink is the colour of life”

Poverty-stricken women in Uttar Pradesh have banded themselves together to fight against rape, violence and corruption, wearing pink saris as a kind of “uniform”, because, to them, “pink is the colour of life”. Almost all of the members live in mud-brick huts with no running water, no electricity and no sanitation, and exist on less than 50 pence per day. The group, formed two years ago and now hundreds strong, consists of members who live in one of the poorest parts of the province and belong to the lowest caste in Indian society. The leader of the group, Sampat Pal Devi, points out that no-one ever helped women who had been subjected to violence or rape, and that officialdom in the area is prejudiced against poor and low caste women. She states that “we are not against men; we are for everyone’s human rights, and against people who do not believe in that cause.” The group, known locally as the “Gulabi Gang”, uses violent methods where persuasion does not work, even on members of the local police. In cases of domestic violence, they are quite prepared to give the offender a taste of his own medicine. This has resulted in Sampat becoming a local celebrity, as the group’s unorthodox methods have managed to stop women being raped, enabled girls to go to school and minimised corruption in the area. The group is now attracting as members a considerable number of men, who also feel that change is now mandatory. Sampat also mentions that they are now educating women to know their rights and to stand up for them in the traditional society in which they live. They stress that they are “a Gang for Justice”, and it seems that at last they are slowly earning the grudging respect of local officials.


News in Briefs

Amidst news of more people - an average or 7 each day - leaving the UK for sunnier (or cheaper) climes, a recent advert, placed in the UK media by the Australian city of Adelaide, certainly catches the eye! Slogans like “B****r it, I’m off to Oz”, S**w working in Staines”, S**ff London Traffic”, - we’ll leave you to fill in the asterisks as this is a family paper - make the message clear. Brits are better off out of it! Maybe the Thai Tourist Board could dream up something similar…”Land of Smiles” is slightly yesterday, particularly when Malaysia’s TV ad has recently come up with “Where the smiles are still genuine”! Ouch!
The Chiang Mai Computer Club which meets every Tuesday lunchtime at Tuskers’ Bar and Restaurant has recently started its own online Discussion Group Forum which, for those of us permanently linked to our laptops etc, is very good news as it should make far more interesting reading that a certain other Expats’ forum, now almost totally given over to ads! Whatever happened to the discussions, guys? Check the new one out at http://chiangmai-geeks.phpbb3now.com/ - well done, Bill!
Readers may be aware that, again in the UK, you are far more likely to die from an infection picked up in hospital than from the complaint that landed you there in the first place. A recent study by medical experts has revealed a substance which is both preventative and curative in mild cases - pro-biotic yoghurt!! Hands up all those ladies who, having occasionally suffered from a certain somewhat embarrassing and itchy infection, could have told these guys about yoghurt years ago! And how much did those “experts” get paid for that study???
Another report tells us that, on a percentage basis, more tourists get murdered in Thailand than anywhere else in Asia, but we’ve never noticed any warnings on this subject in the relevant Government websites or literature. Maybe said Governments are hoping they won’t have to pay out so many pensions…
Another online tip-off may prove very useful in the next several months - it’s the regional air quality page of Thailand’s Pollution Control Department - yes, they do have one! It gives a day-to day reading of pollution levels in any Thai area, it’s actually written in good English (praise the Lord!), and it doesn’t usually take 30 minutes to load a page. However, the URL for the exact Chiang Mai page is about 9 miles long, so we suggest that you go to the home page at www.pcd.go.th and take it from there!
That’s it for this week, guys, have a good one!