OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Head of Tourist Police to speak at Chiang Mai Friends’ meeting

Carter Work Project in Chiang Mai gears up for action

Youth Choir Summer Camp students learn fast for their concert

London-based trust provides expert help in Chiang Mai

Soroptimists celebrate with “Pyjamas and Pedicures”

Lands of Contrast

The Captain In Love

Head of Tourist Police to speak at Chiang Mai Friends’ meeting

Elena Edwards
The next monthly meeting of the Chiang Mai Friends group should prove interesting, as the scheduled guest speaker is Pol. Lt.-Col. Yuthasit Boonkhalam, chief of Chiang Mai’s Tourist Police. Most of us will have heard that farangs are able to volunteer to serve with this sector of the local police. Few of us may actually know a farang who has taken up the challenge. In these troubled times, this may be a good opportunity to help the community. Current volunteers working with the Tourist Police will also be on hand to share their personal experiences first hand.
The meeting will be held this month on April 29 at the Just Khao Soy Restaurant, located at 108/2 Charoenphratet Rd, and will begin, as usual, with a ‘meet and greet’ networking session and an early supper at 5.30 p.m. The meeting itself will begin at 7 p.m., and will include a report on the recent and very enjoyable Friendship Tree Planting Day at Ban Papai, followed by a discussion about the progress of the Green and Clean-up projects. CMF members’ input, ideas and involvement is essential to ensure the projects’ continued success. The meeting will end with the informal open forum. All are invited to ask questions and share their views and experiences.
The fee for both supper and the meeting is 250 baht. For the meeting only it’s 80 baht. Chiang Mai Friends group meetings are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people both from the Thai and the expat communities, to share experiences, to further integration and understanding, and to get involved in the ‘greening’ of our beautiful city and its surrounding areas.

 

Carter Work Project in Chiang Mai gears up for action

CMM reporters
Eric G. John, U.S. Ambassador to Thailand, recently hosted a dinner at his official Bangkok residence to introduce Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to a group of corporate VIPs. Pledges for the blitz build in November from Habitat’s affiliates in the U.S. and national offices in other countries have exceeded $1.5 million. Registration for volunteers in the US, Australia and New Zealand, with large numbers of people needed for the main site in Chiang Mai as well as for the other sites in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Yunnan, China. In Cambodia, preparations are being made for a week-long test build at the end of this month, which will see volunteers working alongside home partners and skilled workers. Together they will be laying soil bricks, economical and environmentally friendly, installing doors and windows and building a roof of corrugated iron. The completed building will be used as a community centre.
Habitat for Humanity is inviting essays for a Carter Work Project contest. In 500 words or less, simply give a definition of “home” and describe the reason for volunteering with or donating to Habitat. Email the essay to [email protected] or mail to Habitat World essay contest, 270 Peachtree St, NW, Suite 1300, Atlanta, Georgia, 30303, USA, by April 30. The winner gets to join hundreds of volunteers in November at the main Chiang Mai site, along with former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife. Aspiring writers may also be interested in how love blossomed for some volunteers during past projects. For example, Victor Fasolino met his wife, Lora, in Hungary in 1996 while volunteering on a Carter Work Project. The two got married one year later atop a house they helped build during another project in Pikesville in Kentucky. Other volunteers had cleaned and scraped a ladder so the bride wouldn’t get her wedding gown dirty climbing onto the roof. The Fasolinos will continue their love affair with the builds in this year’s project.


Youth Choir Summer Camp students learn fast for their concert

Elena Edward
On May 9, beginning at 7 p.m., Payap University’s College of Music will present the Payap Youth Choirs Summer Camp concert, the result of a collaboration of music students, aged between 8 and 22 years, from various Chiang Mai schools, including Dara Academy, the Prince Royal’s school, Yupparaj and Sacred Heart College, together with Payap students.
The 20 young singers have been working on material for the concert during the summer break, and will present a varied programme of works, including folk songs, Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, Thai songs and Disney’s It’s a small world. One special song was composed specifically for the summer camp concert by Sarun Wongnoi, former Payap student, now a member of the ‘A Capella 7’ and a producer for RS Recording in Bangkok.
Khun Ayu, who has been leading the camp, told the Chiang Mai Mail that the students had only 5 weeks to prepare their repertoire, and that she was amazed at how quickly they had learned the pieces, some of with are extremely complicated.
The concert will be held at Payap’s Saisuree Music Hall on the Mae Kao campus; tickets will cost 150 baht, students 100 baht. For more information, please call 081-804-3920.


London-based trust provides expert help in Chiang Mai

Elena Edwards
Organisations operating in diverse fields in developing countries have traditionally experienced difficulties attracting the right kind of expert assistance, particularly in technology and manufacturing. A London-based charity, the British Consultancy Charitable Trust (BCCT) was set up in 2006 to address exactly this problem, and now have an extensive database of more than 2,000 professionals with proven expertise in their specialist fields, who volunteer their services to carry out assignments overseas, transferring knowledge and expertise to developing economies. The trust is funded almost entirely by donations; its London office is staffed mainly by volunteers, with dedicated regional managers worldwide providing the key to the efficient delivery of successful assignments in those countries under their respective management.
BCCT aims to assist those in need of training, education and mentoring in the field of enterprise and development in the developing world through the provision of volunteer advisers on a short term assignment basis. BCCT volunteers encourage sustainable enterprise, with the trust offering a full range of services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Assignments may be funded either by the client, supporting corporates or charities, or a combination of all three. Services are offered to countries with low levels of industrial capacity, economic productivity and scarcity of vital technological services; the trust has worked with assignments in over 22 countries to date, and is also active in the field of social development, welcoming applications from almost all non-highly developed countries, especially those with emerging economies or economies in transition.
Assignments last from two to six weeks, but occasionally may last up to four months. All airfares (economy), UK travel costs, board and lodging in country, visa and insurance expenses are met, plus £30 per week to cover incidentals. The trust does not pay for anyone to accompany a volunteer, but most clients are welcoming and will provide sufficient accommodation for two people.
Here in Chiang Mai, the representative of the British Consultancy Charitable Trust is Ian Bushell. Anyone who would like further information should contact him by email at [email protected]


Soroptimists celebrate with “Pyjamas and Pedicures”

Donna Dauenhauer
Soroptimist International Chiangmai (SICM) will be celebrating the 2nd anniversary of its chartering on May 26, with members again ‘taking action in style’ on their special day with a unique ladies’ event entitled ‘Pyjamas and Pedicures.’
From 6-9 p.m., girlfriends, sisters, daughters and moms are invited to dress in their cutest pyjamas or lounge wear (there will be prizes!) and ease on down to Spa Na-Tandee at 16/9-10 Nimmanhaemin Rd. Soi 17 for an evening of music, pedicures, and delicious and healthy canapés catered by Café Pandau. Soroptimist members Natnicha Kusumote of Spa Na_Tandee, and Noriko Yabata of Café Pandau, promise to provide the right combination of pampering and delectable cuisine, each with a contemporary twist.
Included in the donation price of 600 baht, the 40 lucky ladies will enjoy one classic pedicure, 2 complimentary beverages (organic wine, special cocktail, or soft drink) and a hot/cold canapé buffet. For dessert, there will be homemade cupcakes. You may book either by emailing Donna Dauenhauer at [email protected] before May 19 or by buying your early-bird tickets from Soroptimist members directly. Advance reservations (adults only) will be accepted by email only. As the venue can only accommodate 40, we encourage you to book early. Gratuities for the stylists will be left to your discretion.
The proceeds from the event will benefit the Soroptimist Single Mothers Project which, at present, supports 5 single mothers, 4 of whom live in Maewang village and were featured in the video shown during last year’s fashion show. The 5th is a hill tribe single mother with 3 children, one of which is chronically ill. The family’s health care expenses are provided by the project, and the children’s education is sponsored by SICM’s Scholarship Program. SICM is presently reviewing the case of another single mother who needs support for day care for her child to enable her to work with less stress.
We at SICM would like to thank all supporters – past, present and future – and look forward to seeing lots of lovely ladies in pyjamas on May 26. With your kind support, we at SICM will strive to reach our goals by inspiring action and creating opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a local and global network of members and international or local partnerships.
For more information about Soroptimist activities globally, please visit www.siswp.org.


Lands of Contrast

Farang Lady
Right away, I’m walking on the wrong side. I’m like a salmon swimming upstream as the ladies in the produce market walk past me, pulling their little wheeled shopping carts. I have to remind myself constantly. “Walk on the right side, walk on the right side.” Funny how you adapt to a country, without knowing it. The customs of Thailand have become part of our life for 4 years. Now we are spending the summer somewhere that is the opposite of the Land of Smiles. Greece! The other day, my husband turned a corner driving the car, and started down the wrong side of the street! This is over the top amazing, because he doesn’t even drive in Thailand!
Thailand’s ways have become part of our behaviour. First, I go around smiling at people all the time. People glance at me as if they should know me – why else would I smile – then realize they don’t know me… I weakly say, “Kali Mera” to cover myself. They answer back nicely, but deep inside, they are saying, “What a fruitcake,” however that’s said in Greek!
Stores are closed in the afternoon here on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Everything is closed on Sunday! But then, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights, they open again from 6 to 9. But between 3 and 6 on those days they are closed. If that isn’t confusing enough, some of the stores stay open, later, and others don’t open when they should in the evening. So you have to stop and think, “Oh, the stores will close in 20 minutes, but will they open again tonight?” You MUST have it written down…somewhere, and then remember where you put the list…
My husband is still handing money to people with both hands, I’m sure they think he has hand coordination problems, and can’t hold on to the change. They look at him with a “Bless his heart” look on their faces.
Sometimes there is only one person in a store, sitting at the register waiting to take money. They don’t follow me around. At first, entering a general household store, I wandered around for about 20 minutes, being fascinated by a dazzling array of products. I got a chill up my spine. No one approached me; they actually let me walk around by myself. The freedom was overwhelming, with a quiet sense of responsibility. I felt like a grownup! Then, I felt like an orphan. I was proud that they trusted me. Then I felt lonely. I realized I had actually looked at the whole store by myself! In 30 minutes I had gone from proud to suicidal. Didn’t they care about me at all?
While Thai people are perhaps the most polite in the world, the Greeks are very direct. What they think they say…and if you ask a really silly question, they let you know how silly it was, right away. Since I have a history of asking silly questions, I hear, “Of course!” quite often. Accompanied by both their arms out to the sides, palms up.
The telephone man arrived, and said, “Where is the connection?” I weakly gestured toward the opposite wall. He didn’t see me gesture. He said, “This isn’t my apartment, how do I know?” He was so right.
Two workmen were putting in a sink, and I, in my Thai hostess way, said, “Would you like a glass of cold water?” One of them looked at me like I was nuts and said, “We never drink water, only coffee.” I said, in a Betty Crocker voice, without thinking, “You should drink water, it’s good for you.” He said, narrowing his eyes, “Neverrrrr mind.”
As we all know, Thai ladies are quite modest in their attire. Greece loves cleavage. I thought I would buy some winter blouses when I arrived. Their idea of a winter blouse is long sleeves, heavy T-shirt material, and a neckline that would embarrass Madonna. It’s tonsillitis time here if you don’t wear a scarf around your neck. In direct contrast to Thailand, older ladies do not cover up here and act matronly. There are no criteria to let you know that you have passed the “prime time” in your life. Cleavage, sequined blouses, big hair, boots and tights, all know no age or weight barrier. Sometimes I sense that my husband didn’t hear what I just said. Then I notice that a lady just walked by, and my best guess is, she wasn’t wearing a turtleneck. When discussing the cleavage with an American friend of ours, he said, “I must confess I rather enjoy it!” My husband agreed!
Our plumber, a young man who bounds up three flights of stairs in 9 seconds (I counted) was completely baffled by our request for a spray by the toilet. He didn’t understand why we didn’t use the shower to spray the floor. Until I used the word bidet, he was in the dark. He still thinks we are crazy, but installed it, shaking his head. He talks, and works so fast that after he leaves, you wonder if he was really here, or did you dream it?
The other day, it took him longer to come up the stairs, and we asked him if he needed a cup of coffee. He says, “I don’t drink coffee. I have three espressos in the morning to wake up and 4 whiskeys in the evening to go to sleep.” Well! There you are!
The most overwhelming culture adjustment for me is the fact that people wear shoes IN the house. Of all the customs in Thailand, that is the most civilized, and sensible. We imported a shoe rack from Chiang Mai, and walk around in slippers. However, visitors, and workers don’t do it, and I just figure I have to grit my teeth, and keep my mouth shut. There they are, standing in my house, with shoes on! Unconscionable!
The biggest problem here, is finding a bottle of body lotion. Coming from Thailand, where an entire aisle is devoted to hundreds of bottles of lotion…it’s a shock. Here we are, in the land where rain is not seen for months, in the summer. Here, where Africa blows across the sea in August, and finds its way to your coffee table! Here, in the land where hills turn yellow by the end of June, you can’t find lotion. Why aren’t these women dried up like old oak leaves? Then we thought, maybe it’s the olive oil! In the store, that is the only aisle that rivals the lotion aisle in Thailand. If you stay here long enough, perhaps the oil comes out of your pores, so no lotion is needed? Every Greek recipe starts with the words, “Put one cup of olive oil in the pan.”
A friend warned us that if we go into Athens, we must watch out for the dangerous sidewalks, as there are occasional holes and cracks. We looked at each other and winked. That, we are ready for!


The Captain In Love

An ode to the Mail’s very own Hillary

O Hillary, my Hillary,
My minx, my sphinx,
My Hillary!
My manly heart is blown apart
By Cupid’s light artillery!
You make the blood pound through my veins,
Aorta to capillary! 

Have no fear; we’ll be discreet.
I’ll dine you quietly, my sweet.
A secret special place I know
In a soi of joy just off Loi Kroh
And here, my dear, I vow you’ll see
Old England’s best  gastronomy.
Yes, darling, you shall smack your lips
At Cheerful Charlie’s Fish & Chips
Where chips are chips – not limp French fries
But hand cut and of decent size,
With bread and butter, mushy peas –
Everything, my dear, to please.
And afterwards, alas, no Lindt,
For poor old Archie Crabtree’s skint,
I’ll slip you what I feel is posher:
A single gold-wrapped Ferrero Rocher.

O Hillary, O Hillary,
My moon, my star, my objet d’art,
My caviar, my Hillary,
Your matchless charms have locked my arms
Forever in love’s pillory
And I’d rather spend a night with you
Than in Sang Som distillery!