Epilogue: "Happy, Sad, Moved, Determined"
August 19, 2002
Wherever I travel, an unexpected emotional moment may arise - an encounter with someone or something that can move me to tears of happiness.
West of Bangkok, in Nakhon Pathom, I was wandering around a very large market place. Everyone stares since I am the only farang (foreigner) around.
Naturally I smile and say hello, usually in Thai, and the shopkeepers smile back.
I stopped at a stall where a woman was selling Thai sweets and desserts. Her customers were milling about deciding on items to take home. I watched for a while and decided to indulge.
The dessert specialty is cold steamed rice combined with assorted dried fruit topped with coconut juice or sweet evaporated milk. DELICIOUS. The women were giggling as I savored my treat. “Aroi” is the Thai word for delicious. I said it a few times. The ladies smiled politely and a few burst out laughing. Their warmth and my own joy was a sweet delicious combination.
Another particularly wonderful moment was in Istanbul. I was relaxing at a caf้e just outside a church/mosque where the most splendid mosaics and frescos are on display. A group of high school boys and girls came by and sat at another table. One of the boys had a black tee shirt with the logo “The Bronx Casket Company.” Well I couldn’t resist.
The boy had no idea where The Bronx is nor did he have any idea what casket means. Can you picture me, the master teacher, trying to explain this to a kid who speaks little or no English? I don’t think he got it.
One of the other boys spoke good English so I entertained them with my stories about America. As I walked away, I had one of those emotional moments, thinking to myself, “This is what travel is all about for me.” The mosques and museums are fine but the people I meet are the best.
The final moment was in the town of Potter’s Bar. Dorothy, Roger and I decided to have dinner at a Thai restaurant called The Royal Elephant. As we entered the restaurant I said hello, in Thai, and the manager responded to me in Thai.
The Royal Elephant is decorated with artifacts I had seen all over Asia. The food is authentic. Just after the rice was served I asked for some chili sauce with hot chilies. Then I realized that I needed some sugar to sprinkle on my Phad Thai noodles. Yes, sugar, the way the Thais do in Thailand. When the manager smiled and confirmed I was correct in my choice of condiments, I almost lost it. I missed Thailand so much. I am almost in tears right now. I know I will return soon.
And of course I will return to England. My cousins are enthusiastic generous hosts. They wouldn’t let me wash a teacup. James and Charlotte are energetic charming children. Charlotte looks just like her great grandmother, Dorothy’s mother, my late Aunt Ida. Lisa says that "two is quite enough indeed,” but I reckon number three may be due in Derby one day.
After sixty days around the world, I am home, safe and sound; happy and sad; resting and planning.
I am fortunate to have the time and the resources to travel. And I do give thanks that I have the energy to climb steep hills in the heat of the day. I am determined to continue for as long as I can.
Summer is almost over and here in Miami the telephone is ringing: “Hi Jan, my name is Leah, and my friend Linda gave me your number and I want you to teach piano to my children and I hope you have room in your schedule.” So it will be back to work. I do miss the kids.
I have to go now and return some calls. Business is business.
Big kiss, big hug,