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Ladies love to lunch

Where are the ‘good old days’?

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol receives U.N. award for work with women prisoners

 

Ladies love to lunch

Elena Edwards
For the first time in far too long, I managed to drag myself away from my office to attend what used to be one of my favourite social occasions - the Expat Ladies’ Lunch, held every month at varying venues around the city. This excellent excuse for a brief ‘great escape’ and a good gossip was originally the brainchild of Judy Harcourt, who simply decided that she would invite around eight or so women whom she’d met at the Expats’ Club to join her for a special lunch once a month.

The Expat Ladies’ Lunch group enjoy conversation and food at their recent April meeting held at the Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel.

Fortunately for me, I was one of the original eight invited, and, having not been in Chiang Mai for more than a few months, sidled into the chosen restaurant on the day feeling somewhat unsure of myself! I needn’t have worried, as I was welcomed like a long-lost family member by the ladies I didn’t know, as well as by those I did! After the introductions, we ate a lot, gossiped a lot, confirmed our friendship and agreed to do it all again on a monthly basis. Many of us still do!
In Chiang Mai, people come - and, of course, people go, whether as snowbirds intending to return, as business people posted elsewhere, as family members now needed in their home countries, and for many other reasons - some, sadly at present, connected with the world economic crisis.
The Ladies’ Lunch group has changed, along with the city itself, with not so many of the original members left - even Judy and her husband, Dale, now spend several months each year in their new apartment in Nafplion, a beautiful and historical old town halfway down the eastern sea coast of the Peloponnesian peninsular in Greece. This original member of the lunch group knows the town and surrounding area very well, and is desperately jealous!
I’m more than happy to report, though, that in spite of the changes to the group itself, the newer members are as extraordinary and wonderful as those they have replaced, and the conversation over lunch is as stimulating and amusing as it always was. Of course, the group is now larger - in the early days we managed at almost every restaurant to fit around one table - nowadays it’s at least two, much larger tables, but it’s obvious that the ethos of the original get-together is still alive and laughing.
April’s meeting was held at the Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel, on the Superhighway just before the junction with Huey Kaew Road …easy parking and a very well designed and equipped dining area. This hotel is known for its lunchtime ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Good, imaginative food at 142 baht, with a very tempting array of desserts, including Rose’s and my favourite, caramel custard. Perfect for a ladies’ lunch! The welcome from friends, the hugs, the talk, the laughter, all made for a very enjoyable break.
The Expat Ladies’ Lunch group always welcomes (and I do mean welcomes!) new members. Details of its regular monthly meetings will always be announced in this paper on page 7. Come and join us, you’ll be glad you did!

 

Where are the ‘good old days’?

Jean McCall
In the good old days, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of bacon and processed meat, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes or cervical cancer. Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle. Takeaway food was limited to fish and chips, no pizza shops, McDonalds, KFC, Subway or Burger King.
Even though all the shops closed at 5.30 p.m., and didn’t open on Sundays, somehow we didn’t starve to death, even without a refrigerator! We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We could collect old drink bottles, cash them in at the corner shop and buy toffees, gobstoppers, liquorice sticks, lemon sherbets and some bangers to blow up frogs with.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drinks with sugar in them but we weren’t overweight because... WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, anywhere, as long as we were back when the street lights came on. No-one was able to reach us all day, ‘cause they didn’t know where we were. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of old prams and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. We built tree houses and dens and played in river beds with matchbox cars, marbles and conkers. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo, X-boxes, no video games at all, no televisions, no videos, no DVD rentals, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms. ... WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents. Only girls had pierced ears! We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever. You could only buy Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns at Easter time. Boys (and maybe some girls who were brave enough to ask) were given air guns and catapults for their 10th birthdays.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them! Mum didn’t have to go to work to help dad make ends meet!
Rugby and cricket had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!! Getting into the team was based on merit! Our teachers used to hit us with canes and gym shoes IF we deserved it - these days even our parents aren’t allowed to give us a clip round the ear - and bullies always ruled the playground at school.
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of, as they actually sided WITH the law! And if we were really wicked, WE ended up in court, not them! Our parents didn’t invent stupid names for their kids like ‘Kiora’ and ‘Blade’ and ‘Ridge’ and ‘Vanilla.’ We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
Until our governments decided to regulate us all for out own good …these days, ‘elf and safety rules, and it’s definitely NOT OK!


HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol receives U.N. award for work with women prisoners

Elena Edwards
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recently recognised the work on women’s issues of Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol, commending her for three projects.
The first involves pregnant women and mothers serving jail terms, and has resulted in these groups and their babies receiving more relevant and humane treatment from the authorities. The second project combats violence against women, and the third is committed to the improvement of the quality of life of female prisoners generally.
The Princess, a public prosecutor who has tirelessly campaigned for the improvement of the lives of female prisoners, gave an address to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice at the time of her presentation with UNODC’s award of recognition. In her speech, she stated that all women prisoners have special needs, that many are suffering from mental illnesses, drug or alcohol dependence and HIV/Aids, and that many have histories of sexual and physical abuse.
Describing her work, she mentioned her ‘Inspire’ project, which deals with pregnant mothers and their children, as well as aiding the reintegration into society of inmates and probationers, saying that, “Women are the forgotten population in prison settings.” The Princess has previously been recognised by the United Nations for her work; she is, at present, the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Thailand.
There are established United Nations rules regarding the treatment of female prisoners. The 11th U.N. Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, held in Bangkok in 2005 and attended by over 2,000 delegates, recommended that the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice give consideration to reviewing the adequacy of standards and norms in relation to prison management and prisoners. To promote the interests of victims and the rehabilitation of offenders, it recognized the importance of further developing restorative justice policies, including alternatives to prosecution.
Salvatore Pennacchio, the Pope’s representative, said that one aspect of concern for the prevention of crime and the overseeing of criminal justice was the effective implementation of the United Nations established rules concerning the just treatment of prisoners and minors. Due consideration should be given to the proposals for the elaboration of a Charter of the Fundamental Rights of Prisoners. Particular attention in such a document should be devoted to a treatment of prisoners that fully respected their human dignity and to their meaningful reinsertion into society.
Women represent 17.4% of prisoners in Thai jails; a large proportion of that number are from minority groups, and up to two-thirds of prisoners are incarcerated for drug-related offences. Overcrowding is common, and facilities for women, medical and otherwise, are somewhat sub-standard.
Last month, however, the Thai government, at a briefing for members of the diplomatic corps, stated that (in direct reference to Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol’s projects) Thailand would make every effort to ensure that improvements in the condition of women in prison is widely undertaken, and that the kingdom has been developing its current justice system to improve the status of women prisoners and their children.
The statement continued with the words, “To implement the vision of Her Royal Highness, Thailand will begin by presenting draft rules and a draft resolution to the 18th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to be held in Vienna in April this year. It is hoped that this proposal will help trigger a rethink in the formulation and revision of prison and correctional management.”