Welcome to JP Melville's review, experience, and statement on foreign aid and the international development industry. A conservative faith in family. A love affair riding the riotous tensions between money, personal freedom, the majestic travesty of our specie's ecological footprint, and economic politics. Selected writing of both prose and poetry, anecdotal travel log to rhetorical essay, dating back from the 1980's to the present. Enjoy!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Collected Notes #6 - More on Sex

Love and Social Order and Money and Power and Colour of Skin

What was this Thai thing about women and men, boys and girls, marriage and sweethearts?   Everywhere a foreign fellow turns he is asked if he is single or not.  Why not a Thai woman for a companion?  Men, women, mothers, once I even thought the chickens conspired on the interminable interrogation.  At every turn in the conversation, on the corner of any street, hardly a day went by that my marital status was not flushed out.  Single?  Do you really want to keep it that way?
I turned in circles wondering, Does anybody love anybody here?”
There was the woman in the market who had five daughters.  She grabbed hold of my arm for five minutes at a time, her vice-like grip guaranteeing an attentive ear.  I learned to avoid her stall by at least an earshot.
There was BeBe, the gas canteen attendant, who bought me yoghurts and offered  music tapes for listening.  Her brother lived in Maryland, U.S.A.  She had adopted Mormonism.  I turned to refuelling on the other side of town.
There was Nit, the daughter of a farmer.  Nit is in the rice paddy.  Nit is over at the neighbours.  Nit, though invisible to me, seemed never far away.  If I stayed in the village, Nit prepared the bed and mosquito net.  My only escape was moving work to another location.
But there, in a distant province, the niece of the village headman appeared.  I met her once.  No more than thirty seconds worth.  Her aunt told me that her niece held a sincere interest in me.  When I asked people in the village about farming issues I was advised of the niece's family's accomplishments.  My research took me elsewhere.
In Thailand I had some status, by virtue of being a foreigner.  And being white.   What nice babies you would make, I was told so many times.  Lovely children so cute with lighter skin and bridges on the noses.  And presumed wealthy not only because I had a salary from the government, which was light years beyond the imagination of so many, but also because I came from a dreamland called Canada where the toilets flushed and everyone had a car.
John stayed and married and drank himself to death.  Steve whored around and eventually wrote a manual for sex travellers – white men to Thailand.  Bill had Thai girlfriends for years thereafter, married, but stayed rootlessly wandering the planet as a development expert.

In the end, my only escape was returning home to Canada.  But I could never again return to my naiveté.  Love as a romantic mechanism for coupling?  Not love, but social order, money and power and colour of skin.
So I left.  I came home to my less than middle class meaninglessness.  No job.  Student debt.  My father well into his second divorce.  Peers whom I had left behind settled into young careers.
Feeling all the fluff in my male ego stuff, puffed out of my sails forever.

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