Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Nana Night

Nana Night

I decided to meet up for dinner with a friend of mind from Malaysia who is also here on a business trip--let's call him J.--a married Indian man who is a frequent visitor to Bangkok. And like many other regular travellers to the city, he keeps a local Thai girlfriend here.

I was eager for the opportunity to meet J. and his girlfriend for it is always interesting to chat with the other woman in someone's life--there's always that feeling of guilt mingled with excitement of being an accomplice to their infidelity. Of course, there's always that secret brotherhood among men that keeps all lips tightly sealed. In J.'s case, there's no risk of that happening as I am not even acquainted with his wife. We planned to meet at 8pm at the Nana Hotel.

For anyone new to Bangkok, and eager to look for some "action", "Nana" is the first word that they need to learn: Nana Hotel and Nana Entertainment Plaza--located along Soi 4 (alley no 4) along Sukhomvit road--are perhaps the most popular haunts for Mat Salleh expatriates here. There's even a skytrain station called "Nana" located conveniently nearby.

J is married to a career woman back in Malaysia. As a regional consultant, J. himself spends a great deal of his time in Bangkok. And for the last 4 months at least, he has been extremely faithful to one woman--M., who hails from Chiengmai.

When I met them, I immediately understood why J. kept the Chiengmai girl for so long. M is not an exceptionally pretty woman but she possesses an extremely pleasant and endearing personality. She first met J. at a bar somewhere in Nana and they have been inseparable ever since. She stays together with him at his serviced aparment, whenever he's in town.

Still in her early twenties, M. is perfectly aware that J. has a wife back in KL. I asked her in babytalk English if she would like to follow J. back to Malaysia; she smiled and gestured playfully with with a slashing motion of her hand across her neck--indicating that it will a suicidal thing for J. to do.

After dinner I watched them play pool together at a bar nearby. They seemed like such a blissful couple--almost perfectly matched and I couldn't help feeling happy for them. Lost in my reverie, I was only jolted back into reality when I realised that my Singha beer bottle was already empty. Recalling that I had an early meeting the next day; I excused myself to catch a taxi back to my apartment.

As I left, I saw J. and M. walking hand-in-hand together as they adjorned to another less crowded pool bar. And there in the streets, were so many other foreigner-local couples like them, all playfulness and laughter--married men enjoying that momentary respite from the tedium of family life; women, clinging to their men for that opportunity to make some easy money, and perhaps who knows, a chance for a better future.

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