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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
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.
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
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
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
That’s it for this week, guys, have a good one!
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