Visiting Nanta Rattanagoses in Thailand, 1995

I first met Nanta Rattanagoses and several other girls my age at the School for the Blind in 1962, when I was 17 years old and lived in Bangkok, Thailand. My Canadian friend Beth Shields visited there as part of her girl scout activities and convinced me to go with her every week. After I came back to America, Nanta and I were pen-pals for several years, then we lost touch.

In 1995, in preparation for a trip to Thailand for the wedding of my brother Bernie, I asked people on the internet for help to find the friends I had known at the school for the blind. To my amazement, I was able to contact one of them -- Nanta -- and we arranged to meet when I came to Bangkok.

We met in our hotel -- it was the first time we had met in 33 years. With us were her son, my husband Fred and son Stephan, and my brother David (my mother was in Thailand but rested that day). I learned that she had been selling lottery tickets (as many blind people did in Thailand) and her husband was a dispatcher for the police department. She also had a daughter, who was not able to come.

Nanta and Dona are sitting in chairs in the lobby, with Nanta's back to the camera and Dona facing the camera and smiling.  Nanta's teenage son sits next to Dona, watching them.  Nanta is wearing a white blouse with lace and embroidery and a blue skirt, her hair is pulled back and held in place with a small fan. Nanta and Dona are facing each other in the lobby chairs.  Dona is smiling, and Nanta is leaning forward and smiling while reaching out to touch Dona's arm.

After catching up, we decided to take a water ferry to go sightseeing at a wat (temple) down the river. I imagined a beautiful, serene ride along the river, enjoying the view and chatting calmly with my friend Nanta and her son. What a surprise to find out that the water taxis were fast boats that would zip along the river at breakneck speeds, propelled with loud car engines attached to a pole at the back of the boat, making the water churn behind them! The docks where passengers got on and off bounced up and down on the turbulent river. The boats would careen to a halt at the dock, and both the dock and the boat would bounce up and down and passengers had to leap onto the boat and grab hold of a pole or stand, and after only a moment or two, ZIP! Off the boat went again!

I worried how Nanta would get onto the boat, but her son helped us plan a strategy. So when the boat pulled up, Nanta had her son on one side and me (terrified!) on the other, and she reached out with her foot to get onto the boat before it took off again. WHEW! She made it, and as we scrambled to get hold of something so we wouldn't tip over with all the thrashing and bouncing, ZIP! The boat took off. It was only then that we realized, to my horror, that Stephan, our 13-year-old son, had been left behind! Fred yelled to him to wait, and got off at the next stop and walked back to get him and join us while we went ahead to the wat.

Photo shows a crowd of people facing us on the boat.  Nanta's son is in front of the crowd, facing us, Nanta is in front of him with her back to the camera, and Dona is leaning toward her saying something, and touching Nanta's arm.  At the back of the crowd is a high bar, and someone has reached up to hold it for support. Photo shows the same crowd on the boat, but Nanta is now turned around and facing the camera, starting to smile and say something, and Dona has turned around and is leaning toward the front of Nanta, saying something.

We are looking across the river to a bell-shaped temple ('wat) -- sitting on a railing at this side of the river are two men looking toward the river -- the one on the left is tall and has light hair (David). We are standing on the pier and watching people jump off the boat -- near is us a caucasian woman smiling and behind her is a bearded man looking down and stepping off the boat.

My brother David chats with a Thai while we wait for Fred and Stephan to catch up with us. When their boat arrived, I took a photo of the passengers getting off -- Fred is just stepping off the boat.

Once we'd all made it safely to the Wat, we enjoyed strolling among the beautiful, ornate buildings. Stephan and Nanta's son played martial arts.
Nanta and Dona are walking on the patio of the temple, with some ornate buildings in front of them.  Behind them David is signaling to someone out of the picture. Two teenage boys -- Nanta's son and Stephan, a boy with curly light hair -- stand on a wall and are grabbing each other's hands and pushing eachother, grinning.

David contemplates a goddess while Dona and Nanta stroll in the background.
David sits on his knees in front of a small statue of a goddess serenely sitting on her knees.  In the background are the sillouettes of Dona and Nanta.

After this meeting, we lost touch again, but then her friend found me on the internet. We made arrangements for Nanta and her daughter to come see America - for photos of that trip, click here.
To see photos of Nanta's trip to America with her daughter, click here.
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