Contrasts

Bia is one of the nicest women I know at the Beer Garden bar. Always has a smile for me. If I’m in the need of some company, she’ll sit and chat. If I’m wanting my space, she’ll graciously back off. Most of the time I buy her a drink and later pass a one thousand baht tip (@ $30). A few times a year, such as at Christmas, I’ll present her with an envelope containing much more. It’s something I do for women I am especially fond of.

Now I’m not one who, having provided money to a Thai lady, expects anything in return beyond maybe a thank you. My generosity does not come with strings attached. So when Bia bought me a pair of nice wine glasses at Christmas, I was taken aback. It was hard to imagine her going to such trouble.

Largely because of this, Bia was one of the three women at Beer Garden (along with the two barmaids) whom I bestowed special money upon to help tide them over while the bar is closed.

Another Beer Garden lady I often buy drinks for, Gae, has proven much harder to figure out. According to my barmaid friend Sumontha, both her and Bia are good women. However, after transferring Christmas money into Gae’s bank account, I never heard anything back. When I finally ran across her at the bar in January, she barely acknowledged receiving my gift. The antithesis of Bia’s reaction. And a recent SMS I sent, to see how she is getting along in these troubled times, was not answered.

I give up.

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