Fantastic. Perhaps that’s where the marriage proposal came from. I suppose, bringing joy to people is part of development work right?
An end note: Several weeks later, we returned to the same area (unbeknownst to me) and ended up having lunch at one of the ladies’ houses from that initiation day.
After I had slipped my shoes off, she grabbed my wrist and led me to the kitchen, pointing excitedly to a frame above the kitchen table. As my eyes adjusted to the glare, I realized that it was the picture of me taken with her that day, displayed proudly above the dinner table.
I never took that smile off my face for the rest of those weeks. It may have been just a bad moment for me, but I realized that for the residents of greater Nong Bua Lamphu, it would likely be their lifelong image of all things Western.
Maybe it wasn’t so bad being a walking cabaret sideshow — it was certainly better than being considered to be like one of the promiscuous, family hating characters of Hollywood that the rest of the world has come to know so well. It’s a powerful discovery, when you find that one person can make a difference. And that it’s you.