Margaux is the kind of woman who when presented with bottles of wine and no corkscrew promptly goes next door to meet her new neighbors--and then invites them to join her party. It was sheer delight for her to discover that her neighbor's face was adorned with thanaka paste--Margaux had just returned from a trip to Myanmar and her neighbor was from that country. It was true friendship at first sight.
Everyone at the party was enchanted by Margaux's exquisite young neighbor, who is smart and funny in at least three languages: her own, Thai, and English. Less enchanting for me was her male comrade, who was easily double her age, and he appeared to be equally disenchanted with me. There's a definite antipathy between many foreign men of a certain age and their femals counterparts, and Paul and I looked at each other with more than a little wariness.
As the evening wore on, that wariness wore off. It became obvious that despite the age difference, Margaux's neighbors were genuinely happy together, with eight years of cohabitation to attest to that. And when we discovered that we each had a deep love for our chosen country and respect for its people, as well as a voracious appetite for volumes of history, Paul and I began to become fledgling friends.
It's always a humbling experience to realize your own prejudices and borderline bigotry, and an exhilirating moment of growth when someone gives you the opportunity to rise above all that--plus a card for a computer genius at the intimidating mass of high tech stalls at Panthip Plaza. Thanks, Paul!