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Looking for Mr. Rin

Title: Looking for Mr. Rin

A Family's Roots in Northeast Thailand

Lawrence Whiting

 

Looking for Mr Rin begins as a memoir of the author ís developing relationship with his father-in-law and with his family which has its roots in Phana, a small town in Isan, where the cultures of Thailand and Laos mix. The author offers us the privilege of getting to know some of the people and places he came to know and love in Thailand and how he, his wife Pensri and their two children began to establish a life there and later in Laos before eventually moving to England.

This book traces a familyís journey from its Lao origins and traditions into modern Thailand: from the 19th century, through years of hunger (when frogs were a staple diet), the Japanese armyís presence, a communist insurgency and the Vietnam War, until the arrival of computers.

Looking for Mr Rin combines self-deprecating humour, cultural insight, historical detail, and colourful characters. It shows the way ritual and custom smooth daily struggles, the seemingly innate resourcefulness of poor farmers, and how an unquenchable desire to learn can lift families out of poverty.

This book is an invitation into an Isan family and its home.

What reviewers say about Looking for Mr Rin :

Wonderful cultural background account of northeast Thailand.  - Frank G. Anderson, Korat Post

For those expatriates who are married to an Isan lady, this book will undoubtedly mirror their own experiences of marrying into a Thai family (make no mistake, they do not marry into the husbandís family to the same extent), and also perhaps go towards explaining the seemingly complex cultural mores that the Lao-Thai possess. It held my attention all the way through, and I found it to be insightful as well as entertaining. A good read.  -  Lang Reid, Chiang Mai Mail and Pattaya Post

Looking for Mr. Rin is an unveiling discovery of both Isan and its people by one of its adopted expatriates and his Thai family. The frequent anecdotes, situational cultural mores and detailed diary-type narrative throughout make for a long but rewarding read. Excellent narrative and reference.  - Brian Knight, Amazon.co.uk

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Sample Text

From Chapter 2

I donít have much recollection of my first meeting with Pensriís father, but I remember very clearly meeting her mother. It wasnít really a very happy meeting. On my side I had very little idea what to expect, and knew that my Thai was so limited that I wouldnít be able to communicate with her to any great extent. On the other hand, Pensri had already told me quite a lot  about her, and she obviously took a great deal of pride in describing a strong, hard-working woman who cared a great deal for her daughters and for the small children she taught in the reception class at the primary school in Phana. Pensri had also warned me that her mother was extremely suspicious of me and did not approve of her daughter having anything to do with me. There was very little I had going for me in her eyes, except perhaps that like her, like most of her sisters and like Pensriís father I was a teacher. What she had against me was nothing personal, since we hadnít yet met, but I was a farang, a foreigner from the West, and there was no way she could make an accurate judgement about my suitability as a husband and son-in-law. Still, she had come down to Bangkok with the intention of trying to persuade Pensri to stop seeing me and as that had failed, then checking me out.

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Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements                                                                                      

  • Maps   Thailand, Isan

  • Preface

  • Glossary

  • Bibliography                                                                                      

Part 1:  Son-in-law of Isan

  •             Chapter 1        Return to Phana, December 1997                              

  •             Chapter 2        First Impressions, 1969                                              

  •             Chapter 3        First Visit to Phana, 1970                                       

  •             Chapter 4        New Life                                                        

  •             Chapter 5        Moving On                                                     

  •             Chapter 6        Foreign Affairs                                                       

  •             Chapter 7        Back to Thailand, 1982                                           

  •             Chapter 8        Return to Phana, 1982                                                         

  •             Chapter 9        England and Thailand, 1984 Ė 1990                       

  •             Chapter 10      Returning to Phana, the 1990s                                             

  •             Chapter 11      Phana, August 1995                                               

  •             Chapter 12      Phana, August and October 1997                  

Part 2:  Isan Father-in-law

  •             Chapter 13      Mr Rin: the time and the place                             

  •             Chapter 14      Rinís Beginnings                                                    

  •             Chapter 15      Teacher Training                                                    

  •             Chapter 16      Rin Starts to Teach                                                

  •             Chapter 17      Head Teacher                                                        

  •             Chapter 18      Family Affairs                                                

  •             Chapter 19      Hard Times 2491 Ė 2500 (1948 Ė 1957)                

  •             Chapter 20      Major Developments                                      

  •             Chapter 21      Phana, 2003                                                           

 

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Note about the author:

Lawrence is a retired teacher who has taught English in England, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Laos. He lived and worked in Bangkok from 1967 to 1974. He married Pensri in Bangkok in 1969 and their son Dominic was born there in 1970. Their daughter Darunee was also born in Bangkok, in 1973. In 1974 the family moved to Vientiane, Laos, and then to England in 1976.

Lawrence first visited Phana (Pensriís home village) in 1970 and frequently thereafter. They have had a home in Phana since 1992 and now that they are both retired they spend about six months a year in Thailand and the other six months in England.

 

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