To the rising star of QUT, Kitty Sutherland (from the show “Cooking and Cleaning with Kitty”),
It’s exam time, which can only mean one thing… I’ve done nothing but procrastinate. For this reason, my letter to you today has a number of irrelevant topics including mistresses in Thailand and German and Dutch honesty.
They say, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” However, it seems this saying has a cheeky twist in Asia…. “Behind every successful man, there are sometimes at least two, three or maybe four women.” The question on everyone’s mind is: why are multiple wives and mating partners normal in Asia?
My interest in this topic started from three experiences. Firstly, I once stayed with a Singaporian who appeared to be the son-of-a-mistress. He knew his father, but had no idea where he lived, what he did for a job, why he lived in another house, and why he only saw his father when they were together with his mother. Then, my Swiss friend went for some drinks with her Thai (girl) friends and their boyfriends (who were all 23-25-years-old). The boys sat there, talking about the naughty things they did with their mistresses the night before. The girlfriends didn’t react. Furthermore, my Thai friend told how her dad has a mistress, and how it’s more or less accepted in Thailand. She also said men quite often go to bath-houses for reasons ‘unbeknown’ to her.
Now, I must admit that apart from the above situations I don’t know how common this is for today’s generation; last week I asked some guys in my class, “Will you have multiple wives when you are older?” and they got a bit angry at me…. (which either means, “YES, but please don’t ask about it in front of the girls we are trying to pick-up,” or “NO”). The mistress is called a ‘mia noi’ (minor wife), and the more wealthy you are, the more minor wives you have. The major wife takes care of the family and children, where as the minor wife takes care of the husband. My ‘research’ stated that husbands don’t talk about personal , work and relationship problems to their major wife. Instead, they off-load all this information to the minor wife. Additionally, it seems this situation is a win-win-win for the husband, major wife and minor wife (plus more –win-win-win’s if there are more minor wives): the husband is not bored and has a person he can confide in. The major wife doesn’t have much pressure to have sex, the husband is more ‘satisfied’ so less likely to get a divorce, and the kids are financially taken care of. Finally, the minor wife is happy because she has a man in her life, but doesn’t need to clean his dirty laundry.
The thing I want to know is if having a mistress is an Asian phenomena, or is it just more accepted and visible here than in western cultures? Just like corruption is… maybe? Additionally, could having minor wives be the solution to rising divorce rates around the globe? From a evolution perspective, does polygamy increase the likelihood of survival and the successful rearing of one’s offspring?
Next on the agenda is the brutal honesty of Dutch and German people. They really practice the philosophy of, “If you are truly friends, you’ll be honest to each other.” I mean, some people call it harassment, polite people call it rude, nice people call it insulting, while the general population will say it’s offensive. They call it honesty and integrity. Having lived in the Netherlands for almost a year (with many German friends), I must admit I feel like I’ve ‘suffered’ through this cultural difference. For example, if you say, “I feel really lazy,” they will reply with, “Well that’s because you do nothing and you are lazy.” If you say, “I feel like my parents drink a lot of wine,” they will reply, “well, you seem like a bit of an alcoholic yourself.” If you get a new haircut that they don’t like, they’ll say, “Sam, that s a disgusting haircut. Can you please get it changed.” Nonetheless, now that Dutch and German’s make-up only about 40% of the exchange student population, I feel they are a healthy balance to, let’s say, the Americans. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, if you tell some of them, “I think my jeans make my butt look big,” they will of course be nice, polite, happy, tell you that you’re awesome, that you are the best thing since sliced bread and that the world would not be the same without you…. and that they love you, would catch a grenade for you, would jump in front of a train for you, would do anything for you and that they want to have your babies…. when really they should have said, “Yes, maybe we should try some other jeans.” (Sometimes though, the cheap flattery is appreciated).
So, I have come to trust my Dutch and German friends more. As someone who is paranoid that people don’t actually want to hang out with me, I find it relieving to know that if the Dutchies and German’s don’t want to see you, they will say so. Conversely, if you ask to hang out with them and they say, “Yes, I really enjoy your company,” you know that it is true! Isn’t that just great!? Furthermore, this honesty is expected to be returned; if your Dutch or German friend is annoying you, they expect you to tell them. Otherwise they will take your silence as acceptance. What I am trying to say is, their honesty takes away the guessing in friendships. You really know where you stand with them and how much you mean to them.
Which brings me to this super phenomenal French guy who I met last week. Do you know how sometimes you meet someone and then for days on end you can’t stop thinking about how amazing they are? How everything they say is so funny and everything they do is so cool and when they speak French you just don’t want them to stop because it kind of gets you excited? And then you are reminded that he already has a partner (so nothing could ever happen) and he is quite happy with life as it is and will be hopping on a plane in a few days to go back home…. it kind of sucks. Nonetheless, due to a series of fortunate events (well, they were fortunate for me anyway), namely the floods in Cambodia and the pouring rain in Thailand, I got to see him more than I expected. That was nice! His smile, his voice, his stories, his French passion, his big throbbing… heart were all so groovy. In fact, I don’t often feel close to people, so it was extremely nifty to feel a connection with him straight away- he is one of those people you feel close before you even say hi.
As they say in Thai: Sam sad now. Sam miss his fliend.
You know I love you,
P.S. Here are some photos of people…
P.P.S. One of the funniest things you can experience is a German and Dutch person disagreeing. It is a long process of two people fighting about something that doesn’t matter. Neither side will give in, and they will both think the other person is very wrong. You will most likely be sitting there, clapping your hands, smiling, and saying, “In the scheme of things, IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER IF WE MEET AT 12:08 or 12:10!!! Can’t we just all be friends?”