Sunday, March 09, 2014

The Burma Study Center is Busy!

Today, Sunday March 9, 2014 is Global Day of Prayer for Burma.  Yesterday, I picked up a beautiful 24 page booklet which was prepared largely by the Free Burma Rangers.  I don’t normally mention publications I find at the Burma Study Center, but this one is exceptional.  It contains much information, presented in factual yet hopeful light.  Your electronic copy is waiting for you at www.prayforburma.org

Of course, one of the main purposes for the Burma Study Center is to serve as a library of information related to Burma and the many people who are affected by the continuing political / military situation inside the country and along the borders.  The facility is available for research by academics, journalists and really anyone genuinely interested in learning.  They have several books available for checkout and many others which can be read on site.  A collection of lending DVD’s is also available.  Language classes taught at the center offer migrant an opportunity to improve their life skills.  The center is always buzzing with activities.

The Burma Study Center coordinates and sponsors many interesting and timely events.  Today there is a daylong event at Chiang Mai University.  Happily the event was well publicized in the Chiang Mai area. 
Although the posting is too late for most, I’ll include it:

Sunday, March 9: "The 'New Myanmar?: Reforms, Ethnic Groups, and Ceasefires" A full-day of lectures, presentations, and discussions exploring Burma's transition. Presentations will include an overview of changes in Burma since 2010 by Garrett Kostin (Burma Study Center), "Rohingya in Transit: Human Trafficking and Statelessness" by Ekraj Sabu (Asian Muslim Action Network), "Dignity Amidst the Rubbish" by photojournalist Jeffrey Warner, "Burma's Transition: Prospects for Peace and National Reconciliation" by Alex James (Burma Partnership), a screening of "Guns, Briefcases, and Inequality: The Neglected War in Kachin State", two photography exhibitions, and more. All presentations will be in English. Free and open to the public. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at CMU's Faculty of Humanities, 8th Floor. 
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Thursday, March 13: "Understanding Thailand's Political Stalemate: Causes, Prospects, and Meanings" a lecture by Dr. Paul Chambers, followed by discussion/Q&A, organized by Burma Study Center and Chiang Mai University. Intended for an international audience, Dr. Chambers will present on the background, primary stakeholders, different factions, and fundamental issues surrounding the current political crisis in Thailand, including a discussion of the implications prolonged instability in Thailand could have for Burma and Thai-Burma relations. Free and open to the public (presentation in English). 2–4 p.m. at CMU's Faculty of Social Sciences, Lecture Hall 4107. More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/866162156732787/


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Thursday, March 20: "Aung San Suu Kyi: The Face of Burma's Resistance" Join Aung Zaw, founder of The Irrawaddy news organization and winner of numerous international journalism awards, for a presentation of his new book The Face of Resistance: Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma's Fight for Freedom, including an evaluation of the democracy icon's legacy, credibility, and potential. The author will also discuss issues currently affecting Burma during this unprecedented time in its history, including prospects for next year's national elections. Free and open to the public (presentation in English). 2–4 p.m. at CMU's Faculty of Social Sciences, Lecture Hall 4107.

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Thursday, March 27: "Dignity Amidst the Rubbish" book launch, presentation, and discussion with author Jeffrey Warner. Dignity Amidst the Rubbish is a new book of powerful images and text depicting the daily lives of members of a migrant community from Burma living and working on a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Join the author for a discussion of his work, including a presentation by members of Compasio Relief & Development about what is currently being done to assist the refugees. Books will be available for purchase with all proceeds supporting projects for migrants and refugees from Burma living in Thailand. Free and open to the public. 2–4 p.m.at CMU's Faculty of Social Sciences, Lecture Hall 4107.

Friday, March 28: "Dignity Amidst the Rubbish" book launch, presentation, and discussion with author Jeffrey Warner. Dignity Amidst the Rubbish is a new book of powerful images and text depicting the daily lives of members of a migrant community from Burma living and working on a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Join the author for a discussion of his work, including a presentation by members of Compasio Relief & Development about what is currently being done to assist the refugees. Books will be available for purchase with all proceeds supporting projects for migrants and refugees from Burma living in Thailand. Free and open to the public. 7 p.m. at Documentary Arts Asia, 12/7 Wualai Road, Soi 3.

Friday, April 4: "Dignity Amidst the Rubbish" book launch, presentation, and discussion with author Jeffrey Warner. Dignity Amidst the Rubbish is a new book of powerful images and text depicting the daily lives of members of a migrant community from Burma living and working on a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Join the author for a discussion of his work, including a presentation by members of Compasio Relief & Development about what is currently being done to assist the refugees. Books will be available for purchase with all proceeds supporting projects for migrants and refugees from Burma living in Thailand. Free and open to the public. 6:30 p.m. at Borderline Gallery, Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand.

Saturday, April 5: "Dignity Amidst the Rubbish" book launch, presentation, and discussion with author Jeffrey Warner. Dignity Amidst the Rubbish is a new book of powerful images and text depicting the daily lives of members of a migrant community from Burma living and working on a rubbish dump in Mae Sot, Thailand. Join the author for a discussion of his work, including a presentation by members of Compasio Relief & Development about what is currently being done to assist the refugees. Books will be available for purchase with all proceeds supporting projects for migrants and refugees from Burma living in Thailand. Free and open to the public. 6:30 p.m. at Wadee Restaurant , Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand.


Yes there are several  book launch events for “Dignity Amidst the Rubbish”.  I have seen the mock-ups and look forward to having my own copy soon.  If you can’t make one of the events copies will soon be available for purchase at the Burma Study Center, Chiang Mai.

Abundant Blessings,

Jerry


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Umbilical Hernia Repair - Chapter 1 - The Happy Beginning

This story started 10 years ago, give or take.  I was in Tampa Florida and managed to tear my stomach wall at the Umbilical area creating a very small hernia.  Over the years I ignored it, was told my doctors it wasn't important and that I could repair it, or not.  On a couple of different occasions I managed to strain myself in such a way as to increase the rip.  The last time I did managed to increase the tear was just three weeks before the surgery had been scheduled.  The last tear hurt and quite frightened me, but the surgery was already scheduled so I didn't panic.  Looking back, I really should have had this repaired before I moved to Thailand.  I had opportunities and access to military hospitals in both El Paso and San Diego.  It's so easy to look back and see what we should have done, isn't it?

On 21 June 2013, I received a complete physical at Rajavej Chiang Mai Hospital.  Everything was fine except that my platelet count was very low at 31,000.  When I went to review the results with the doctor I was left with the impression that it wasn't a critical thing; that in all likely hood it had been caused by some infection, or perhaps a case of dengue fever I had some time before.  He prescribed a regiment of anti-biotic and had me come back a couple weeks later.  On the 2nd test the platelet count was a bit better but still low.  The doctor was not at all concerned about the results.  Foolishly I took his lead and promptly forgot about the matter.  Today, I don't blame him, I blame myself for being apathetic about something as important as my health!  Please, gentle reader, be smart, understand the results of you medical tests, stay out of denial and don't be afraid to ask questions.  The real issues here are your health, quality of life and life itself your life!

A month ago, give or take a few days, I made an appointment for a consult to get my hernia repaired.  My surgeon is a Doctor Ekachai Paiboonworachat.  He's great!  His name fails miserably in my spell checker so from here till the end of this article let's just call him Doctor P.

Yesterday, I checked into Chiang Mai Ram Hospital in Chiang Mai, to have the umbilical hernia repaired, finally!   I'll talk about the comparative levels of care in the final chapter.  For now let me say that I went to Chiang Mai Ram primarily because they have an attractive relationship with my insurance provider,  Tri-Care for life.  The level of care I received, the professionalism, the compassion, and even the ambience is far above all the other Chiang Mai options.  More on all of this in the final chapter.  Maybe I'll call it "Lessons I learned  - Hope they are useful"

Pre-op included blood work, and Electrocardiogram and a chest x-ray.  Every thing was fine except for one thing.  Doctor P. came to my room a half hour before we were scheduled in the operating room and told me the surgery was being cancelled because my platelet count was a mere 38,000.   He went on to explain that normal would be between 150,000 and 400,000.  Platelet levels as low as mine put a surgical patient at risk because of the bloods inability to coagulate.  In other words incisions would be very slow to heal creating several dangers.  The good doctor took his time and explained all of this to me and then told me he was turning me over to the Hematologist , Doctor Tamatorn Thamprasit.  Again, for simplicity, I'll refer to him as Doctor T.

Sure enough, Doctor T. came by an hour later, introduced himself, asked a battery of questions, answered the ones I could think to ask and prescribed extensive blood work.  Soon after, a couple of nurses came by and drew a large vial of blood.  A couple of hours later Doctor T. returned to let me know that my liver, kidney and all such were fine, and that I have no infectious disease.  However, my platelet count had dropped from 38,000 to 31,000.  There is no obvious reason why the platelets are being killed off like soldiers serving under an incompetent general.  Maybe the problem is the bone marrow is not producing platelets in normal abundance.  Doctor T. told me to stay overnight and in the morning he would take some bone marrow and perhaps do a biopsy. 

Early this morning both Doctor P. and Doctor T. came to see me.  As they were asking about my situation and my spirits, I was really impressed with there true compassion.  These gentlemen are really great people;  I truly like them both.   Doctor P. made sure I understood there would be no elective surgery until the platelet mystery was solved and the solution a success.  Doctor T. promised he would come back and do the bone marrow aspiration in another hour. 

An hour later he returned and tried the aspiration at the base of my spine.   That didn't go well, not sure why.  I can tell you the local hurt like hell.  Doctor T. quickly changed his mind and did the procedure at the sternum.  That's wasn't too bad at all; more painful that typing on my Nexus 7, but not much. Those interested in details about these procedures are invited to google "Bone Marrow Aspiration" .  I will tell you that as I write this, perhaps 11 hours after the procedure, I've had no pain from this procedure since the moment it was over.

Doctor T. came back a couple hours later and reported he had found nothing abnormal in my bone marrow.  He did say he was sending off for a couple of lab tests, but he suspected they would be negative as well.   So there is almost certainly  nothing wrong in my bone marrow that is preventing the production of platelets and there is nothing obvious that's killing the little suckers.   I suggested that it might be a result of the dengue fever I had a couple of years ago.  Not at all likely was his response.   It would be easy to slip into denial or even apathy but Doctors Ekachai Paiboonworachat and Taratorn Thomprasit will have none of that nonsense!   Chapter 1 draws to a close as a happy beginning.  I have an appointment with Doctor T. on the 10th of March to discuss the results of the lab tests and to discuss solutions.  The 2nd chapter will be posted after that appointment.   Until the, gentle reader, if you have a medical issue, get it taken care of now.

Abundant Blessings, 

Jerry 



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lanna Care Net to the Rescue!


Some time ago I became aware of a small organization called Lanna Care Net.  Their basic mission is to help old foreigners who are in trouble in Chiang Mai province.  The vast majority of their clients have a serious medical condition, some at the end of life, and most are without sufficient resources to cover the costs.  I applaud their structure, organization and efforts.  They have an extremely low budget, just simple operating and transportation costs really.  The officers take no compensation.   What they do have is extremely good credibility within the Thai and ex-pat communities.

Lanna Care Net (LCN) is appropriately named.  One of the definitions of Lanna is Northern Thailand.  Care is what they facilitate.  Net is short for network, and that's what they really do the most and the best.   The organization has no paid positions, no company cars, or big offices. The composition is that of compassionate people networking to help those in need.  Their mission is really two fold:  First they provide assistance to aging foreigners who are in trouble, usually people with insufficient financial resources to deal with serious medical conditions.  They lighten the burden of the hosting Thai community by helping their clients understand what is possible within the Thai health care system.  

LCN finds resources, both local and ex-pat, and facilitates their clients interaction.  Notable is another volunteer organization called Cancer Connect, the consulates from various foreign governments especially Great Britain and the United States, Alcoholics Anonymous, various churches and of course most of the health care facilities in the province.
They regularly coordinate with air-lines to facilitate transport of patients as well.

To describe what LCN is about let's look at it three ways, NO, YES, EXAMPLE:

NO:
  • LCN does NOT provide financial assistance.  However, in many instances they can and will assist a client in obtaining emergency financial assistance.
  • LCN does NOT provide health care.  They do advise clients on appropriate nursing and medical care.

YES:
  • Facilitates care through liaison and cooperation
  • Advises clients on their options
  • Trains volunteers
  • Advises and educates the community on how to avoid problems associated with aging.

EXAMPLE:  There are many, this one I know because the man is a dear friend of mine.   Jim has a degenerative condition in his spine, I'm not sure of the exact diagnosis, but I do know that he has had back surgeries in the past.  For several years ago he has been comfortable and physically fit.  He even made the 490 mile Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage  last summer.  Several days ago he found himself with excruciating back pain.  With the help of some friends he was admitted to the Chiang Rai hospital where he languished for a week.  Chiang Rai hospital acknowledged that they did not have the expertise to help him and suggested he go to Chiang Mai University hospital.  The best specialist would be there every Tuesday he was told.  He was also told that the two hospitals were networked.

The next Tuesday morning Jim came down to Chiang Mai by ambulance, arriving about 8:00 a.m.   The hospital had no idea that who he was, or why he had been sent to them.  They had zero communication from Chiang Rai.  Another friend stayed with Jim most of the day while the hospital tried to figure out what to do with him.  I even went and relieved Steve for part of the time.   Finally, after an ordeal that might be good background for a fictional work, he was admitted to the hospital around 5:00 pm.

I called LCN on Wednesday to give them a heads up.  They had already been notified by the hospital that he was there and were on the way to assess his situation.  Thanks to the credibility LCN brought to the case, Jim was able to get an MRI and other needed treatment without having to pre-pay.  On Friday the results of the MRI were known and the orthopedic spinal specialist  saw Jim and presented him with his options, which frankly are very few.  Jim has choices to make.  In the meantime LCN was researching  various options.  

What came to light was the fact that Chiang Mai University Hospital was ill equipped to handle Jim's case.  Not surprising when you learn that his medical condition was so complicated that the Mao Clinic had him as a study case.  His back problems started with a viral infection in his spine. That was over 30 years ago.  His February 2014 MRI pointed multiple problems with his spine.  After a week it was decided the best course of action was to return him to Chiang Rai hospital for physical therapy and work on sending him back to the United States.

Jim is a guy with a big heart and a great attitude.  His friends and family were very supportive.  They marshalled by his bedside to give support where they found themselves often laughing at Jim's humorous stories.  When he was in the orthopedic ward at CMU hospital, he established a goad of making all the other patients smile.  He succeeded!  He even made them laugh, but the "enema story" is best kept for another writing.  The bottom line is that as he laid in a hospital in terrible pain, not speaking the language and being attended by people who had great difficulty understanding the specifics of his condition, he was concerned for the other patients.  I'd go see him and maybe the pain he was suffering was apparent, but the moment he'd see me, especially if I had a camera, he would light up.    He has the best attitude of anyone I've ever seen in a hospital setting.  The great attitude was not enough to keep his problems at bay.  He needed health insurance and a degree of financial solvency.
Jim being visited by Maliwan.
They made each other smile! 
Some friends raised money to defray his medical costs, coordinate transportation and provide conveniences.  In the middle of  fray I noticed the volunteers from LCN working quickly and efficiently to provide suggestions for the best options.  They accomplished several things that simply could not have been done without them:

LCN negotiated with CMU to allow Jim medical testing, including an MRI without pre-payment.  Then on discharge from CMU hospital LCN negotiated a 20% discount.

LCN was instrumental in allowing Jim and has family and friends to understand the medications prescribed, and in convincing the Thai doctors to prescribe appropriate dosages.  They also made sure that Jim knew what meds he had and when he should be taking them.

A wheelchair was provided for his use while he was still in country.

LCN coordinated with the airline, friends and family to make sure that Jim's trip back to the United States was as comfortable as possible. 

Jim at CNX - Wheels up minus 3 hours

The nurse gave me this.  Maybe the bear can help me know it's meaning! 
Frankly, it doubtful that Jim would have been able to get back to the United States to receive the treatment he needs if it hadn't been for the good work of the LCN volunteers.  When I gave LCN a heads up that I would be writing this they asked not to mention their names, just provide the phone number and website.  In keeping with this request, I'll simply say thank you three angles, two in Chiang Mai and one in Chiang Rai.  You have been instrumental in improving the quality of life an reducing the suffering of my dear friend Jim.

Lanna Care Net makes it blatantly clear that they DO NOT want you to be their client.  They don't want anyone to be their client.  The truth is that there are many people here who need or will need their help.  They make suggestions that as an ex-pat getting older in this country, I am taking to heart.  LCN will be happy to advise you on any of these points which include:

  1. Execute an Advanced Health Care Directive.    Do you want someone to guess what you might have wanted if you were not able to communicate?   The Thai doctors will honor these directives and welcome the guidance.
  2. Establish a relationship with a primary care physician.  There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is having some one who knows you who can prescribe pain medications as needed.  -- Jim had not done this! 
  1. Purchase health insurance ( or at least personal injury accident insurance) and put some cash away for emergencies.  Many ex-pats are here because they simply can't afford to live in their home country.  Many live month to month here.  WE need to have health insurance and we need to put away some money for emergencies.  Unless you have health insurance, most hospitals will not begin to treat you without an initial deposit of at least one-half the anticipated amount of your entire bill!  -- Jim was uninsured, without Lanna Care Net's help negotiating with CMU hospital it would have been much worse! 


Lanna Care Net can be contacted at +66 85-709-8801 (085 709 8801) and at www.lannacarenet.org

This was sent by email from Jim's sister 20 February at 5:05 am Bangkok time.

Jimmy arrived on time and safely.  The transition went smoothly.  However, our experience at the hospital emergency room could have been better.  The attending Dr. was reluctant to perform tests or admit him to a room.  He suggested that we go to a facility that had neurosurgeons on staff.  Finally xrays, and bloodwork was done and they have a MRI scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  They did end up putting him in a room for the night.  Jimmy is exhausted and broke down once.  Things seemed to pick up after I made a call to Hospital Social Services.  I just spoke with her and we are getting together tomorrow to discuss Jim's condition and options for us.  I feel so badly for him!  I am doing research on neuro-specialists in a 100 mile radius.  The xrays revealed extreme degenerative disc disease, but he already knew that.  Hopefully the MRI tells us more and will warrant a longer stay so he can be transferred to a facility where intensive physical therapy can begin to work for him.  Will keep you all posted.  Love.  Joy

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festivals are now

Loi Krathong was amazing!  This is the annual Thai festival where people make or buy krathong and float them in the river.  It symbolizes letting go of the past and welcoming the future.  Today I may get to the river and get some photo's of Krathong on the water.


Young Girl (her father behind her) selling Krathong 50 baht, fair price
The festival also coincides with Yi Peng, the Lanna or Northern Thai festival of sending lanterns into the sky. Hopefully we'll get some shots of laterns being launched this evening.   Those not familiar who want to read a bit are invited to the Wikipedia definition.

Yesterday I went to Tae Pae gate to see the displays from different countries for Yi Peng.   Then on to Suan Baak Had (the park near my home).   Enjoy the photo’s

Thailand Display at Tae Pae Gate

Singapore Display at Tae Pae Gate

Asean Display at Tae Pae Gate

Oh My!  We have a dragon in the lake at the park! 

Maliwan purchased two kratong made from some sort of bread.  We prepared them by inserting a lock of our hair, a coin, a candle and incense.   The incense is meant to connect with the spirits, the candle to light the way, the coin represents tamboon and the lock of hair is for identification.   We took the kratongs to the lake in the park, very near my favorite dragon.  The idea is to respect (pray to) the water asking for forgiveness of our discretion and asking for guidance for the coming year.      I just love this culture.



Jerry

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autism in Northern Thailand

Gentle Reader,

Last minute article addition:   I only have 4 tickets left for the Bollywood Masala Charity Event.  Please contact me to reserve yours today!  I will be turning in my tickets and money on Monday.  If you need more than 4 contact Frank directly.  (See bottom of this article for details).

Autism is a reality in Chiang Mai as it is throughout the world. One expert report says that there are at least 200,000 autistic children in the Kingdom.    Here children severely effected with this malady might end up at the Northern Thailand School for children with disabilities.  They have some 30 students, many autistic, some with down syndrome and, if I understand correctly one or two, who suffer from severe Attention Defecate Disorder.  The school is a foundation under Royal patronage.
 
The Northern Thailand Center for Education of Disable Children
The school sponsors a small NGO called Chiang Mai Skill center which is located less than a kilometer away from the school.  The founder is Lukas Wyss who provides the autistic children with the opportunity to interact with horses and provide riding therapy and Hippotherapy.  I know very little about this type of work, but what I do know is that the children enjoy it immensely! 
On the buggy and ready to go
At the appointed time Lukas takes a horse drawn carriage from his barn to pick up children at the school.   The children at the school wait anxiously for the horse and carriage.  As soon as it's visible on the road there is a furfur of excitement (Imagine a bunch of kids looking down the road and seeing Santa Clause coming up the lane - that kind of excitement is what I'm talking about)!  The children then enjoy a carriage ride back to the skill center.
 
Horse and buggy plus happy children
At the skill center they use time grooming the horse and then go to a field especially prepared with soft sand where they take turns riding the horse. Each child is given therapy matching his or her needs. 
 
Ride a horse and work on manual dexterity, good plan! 
After the rides are done, the children return to the barn where they enjoy more time with the horses and a refreshing snack.  Finally they take the buggy ride back to the school.

The center has several urgent needs including water and toilets.  You can help!  Attend the Bollywood Masala Event, donate or volunteer.   Please take a look at http://www.skillcenter-chiangmai.com/ for more information.

Are you going to be in Chiang Mai on Friday October 4th?  Would you enjoy an evening of Indian Entertainment and Indian Food while supporting a most worthy cause; autistic children?   Read on.

My friend Frank from Fashion King of Chiang Mai is organizing the evening.  Frank is a guy who always supports others in their charity work. Now is the time to support him and his wife Vinata in their efforts to support the autistic children at the   CM Skill Center.

The Empress hotel will host and they always do a great job.  The cost is only 1,000 baht per ticket.  Of course, larger sponsorships are requested.  See Frank for details or call him at 081-928-4575  or 081-733-5914.  You may also contact me directly at 089-556-4293; I also have tickets to sell

For only 1,000 baht you have the opportunity to help these children and enjoy an
Indian Bazaar atmosphere will be enhanced by live Indian music and dance
performed by professionals from Bangkok.  You will also enjoy a delicious Indian Buffet.  A complimentary drink will be provided on arrival. Door prizes, a silent auction and many stalls Will add to the excitement of the evening. 
Program



6.30 – 7.15 pm. Registration
7.30 pm. Buffet opens

Followed by Music & dance
(Entertainment)

Tickets are available at Fashion King or directly from me.

Abundant Blessings,

Jerry

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bollywood Event to Help Autistic Children

Gentle Reader,

Are you going to be in Chiang Mai on Friday October 4, 2013?  Would you enjoy an evening of Indian Entertainment and Indian Food while supporting a most worthy cause; autistic children?   Read on.

My friend Frank from Fashion King of Chiang Mai is organizing the evening.  Frank is a guy who always supports others in their charity work. Now is the time to support him and his wife Vinata in their efforts to support the autistic children at the   CM Skill Centre and Thanua Withaya School.

The Empress hotel will host and they always do a great job.  The cost is only 1,000 baht per ticket.  Of course, larger sponsorship is requested and needed.  See Frank for details or call him at 081-928-4575  or 081-733-5914.

For only 1,000 baht you have the opportunity to help these children and enjoy an Indian Bazaar atmosphere will be enhanced by live Indian music and dance performed by professionals from Bangkok.  You will also enjoy a delicious Indian Buffet.  A drink or glass of wine will be provided on arrival. Door prizes, a silent auction and many stalls Will add to the excitement of the evening.  

6.30 – 7.15 pm. Registration
7.30 pm. Buffet opens

Followed by Music & dance
(Entertainment)

Tickets are available at Fashion King or directly from me (I'll have a book available by Saturday the 14th of September.

Abundant Blessings,



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I married the same woman twice!

I’ve heard of people marrying the same person twice but that usually entails a divorce in the middle.  I’ve done it with no divorce in the middle.   Some may argue that it’s just one marriage accomplished in two different stages, by my explanation is more fun.
 
On the 23d of November we were married in Maliwan’s village in Nan Rong.   Then we got busy with life.  There were new volunteer opportunities and writing projects for me and a new job and at the same time going back to college for Maliwan.   We’ve been busy!   I just realized that though I posted pictures on face book, I never wrote a blog article.   Let’s back up a bit.

Some time ago we decided to marry.   We picked a time frame some 14 months in the future.  We discussed this with her family and in typical Thai fashion left the choice of an exact date up to her mother, who of course consulted monks and fortune tellers to find the most auspicious date.  23 November 2012 was chosen.



Photo is not good, the food and fellowship was! 

Maliwan and friends
I made it perfectly clear that I was not going to be a part of any drunken fiasco very common at Thai weddings, especially village weddings.  She needed to have some sort of a party or perhaps lose face.  I refused to pay for any alcohol.  The compromise was simple.  I increased the dowry and she paid for the party.  Trust me when I tell you she spent less that 10% of what they were expecting me to pay.   Everyone came away a winner except maybe a couple of neighbors who had planned on a free binge.  You've seen it before.  20 people show up for the ceremony and 100 find their way to the reception.


Relatives

Wedding Day, Maliwan's Father in foreground


The ceremony was simple, the people genuinely happy for Maliwan and me.   The next day we headed back to the North and resumed our busy lives.  Time has flown since.

Finally today, the 10th of July we managed to finish.  It wasn’t difficult at all, just tedious.   First she had to secure a copy of her divorce certificate and her family registry.  In the meantime I needed to get a notarized document from the American consulate which attested to my status and then get a legal translation of that paper.  Armed with these documents, my passport and her ID card we arrived at he office about 9:30 this morning.

Just because there is no ceremony is reason not to get ready!
There was no ceremony. That was done the 23d of November, but as far as I could tell was totally irrelevant to the proceedings today. The nice lady at the counter gave Maliwan a couple forms to fill out, all in Thai of course.  Four trips down stairs to make copies of things later we had accomplished two things.  First her family paper has been registered here in Chiang Mai and then our marriage was registered.  Maliwan commented that the people were much nicer than the ones she dealt with registering her first marriage. No, I couldn't resist the opportunity to make a comment about when it's right it's easier. 
Here we are with the certificate! 
They gave us a lovely folder with two copies of the marriage certificate.  Why two?  I asked.  Apparently this is just the way it’s done, one for her and one for me.  At first it made no sense. After thinking about it I’m guessing the reason is because of the fact that married people often live apart for economic reasons. Living in two different parts of the country having your own copy of various documents makes total sense. ( I remember my old driver friend from Bangkok, who I’m sure I met more than 40 years ago, telling me he will be happy when the Federal hotel closes at the end of the year.  He will go and live with his wife in Lampang  See the article “All things are impermanent” below). 

.