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Ben Oostdam's letter of May 23, 1955
from Bangkok to his fiancee and parents in Holland
(translated from Dutch), page 3


She had only been in Bangkok three days in her entire life,and apparently had seen some Vespa's on that occasion. Isn't it fantastic that she remembered that brandname?

Mom translated that she was very glad to see a "pharang" (foreigner) again, because as a small girl she had seen many Dutchmen (presumably slave-laborers) who had been very friendly to her. He told me that her Thai speech was excellent and that she apparently had enjoyed a good education. Also, that she must have some Chinese blood, which does wonders.
We learned a lot from our talk. I also had to show her my photographs of Holland and tell her about it. Mom did an expert job of translating whenever necessary - which was most of the time, because I have not yet made much headway in learning Thai - for which I apologize herewith and promise to remedy the situation soon.

And in the mean time it kept on pouring rain,and small streams of water leaked through the zinc roof onto the loam floor transforming it into a mudswamp. Whenever I waded through it, large lumps of mud stuck to my boots with a determination worthy a better cause. Our hostess, whose name was Nulek, went barefoot outside to collect some fruit for us and came back completely soaked -but "mai pen rai"(nevermind) : it only served to make her look even more attractive.She did dry herself and her clothes close to the small woodfire.
Another passerby took refuge in the house, as well as a chicken which had good cause to regret this premature action: within five minutes it was put in a pot on the fire, feathers and all, and a half an hour or so later it was served to us duly cleaned , dissected and fried with rice!
We did not succeed in getting her to join us for dinner for she just preferred to serve us. And what a swell job she did: everything exactly at the right time when we wanted it!
Fortunately I was by now pretty good at eating with chopsticks, which appeared to make a good impression. She was astonished, too, never having seen a whiteman like me eating. I felt flattered and in my turn made all kinds of Biblical phrases of compliments and gratitude, which translator Mom enhanced into even more Oriental flavor.
Then her husband came home, completely soaked, of course. More or less against our expectations, he also was extremely hospitable and kind. When we started to leave at 2130 - at which time the rains subdued slightly - he objected and offered us to stay the night. After many formal protests, we were only too happy to accept and thus avoid having to go out into the dark and muddy night...
This man had been a monk for two years and had learned all kinds of virtues during that period. I truly feel the urge so now and then to don a saffran robe and roam the country. Who knows...


BLO fecit 20000520 --- continue to: next page (4) or go to:
p.1 -- p.2 -- p.5 -- p.6 -- p.7 -- p.8 -- p.9 -- p.10 -- p.11 -- p.12


return to: Contents of Autobiography - - - or go to Index of Ben Oostdam's websites