Personal Letters

Bumrungrad International Hospital: Knee Surgery


January 6, 2012


Years ago, one of my first Travel Letters from Thailand began with something like this: “I am stretched out on a chaise lounge, watching the sun set in the mountains beyond the River Kwai.”

Another letter began, “I am relaxing at a restaurant in Koh Chang, watching the fishing boats slide along the waters of the Gulf of Siam.”

The most recent letter described my sunset stroll around the Pyramids.

So, my friends, are you curious as to where I am lounging this very day?  The answer is, “I am lying flat on my ass in Room 935 in Bumrungrad International Hospital!” <--break->

Alice and Jan Wedding

October 9, 2006

My Dear Family and Devoted Friends,

Do you remember where you were on Sunday afternoon, October 9, 1966?

Perhaps you were preparing for Game 4 of The World Series? Or maybe looking for a betting line on The Giants? Or maybe you were struggling with the Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle?

Or maybe you were in the Baroque Room of The Plaza Hotel, celebrating at the marriage of Alice Rosemarie Dawn, 26, of New York, of blessed memory, and Jan Robert Polatschek, 26, of New Rochelle.

Alice's father, David A. Dawn, and his new wife Helga, made us a splendid wedding forty years ago today.

I still enjoy the memories of that Sunday afternoon.

Announcement 2008: New Website

Bangkok, Thailand
24 March 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Telma and Jeffrey have been my loyal friends for many years.  They were generous and helpful to me, both when I was a "snow-bird" from Boston, and later as a bachelor resident of South Florida.  Whether for business or for my social life, I could count on them for thoughtful advice.

Eight years ago Telma came for a visit to my apartment in Miami.  She noticed that I did not own a television set.  I explained that I didn't think I was missing very much on TV.  I preferred listening to the radio, or spinning my compact discs.  I could choose one of the many unread books on my shelves.  And if I really wanted to be productive, I could play my grand piano that sat imposingly and patiently in the living room.

Telma was surprised once more when she noticed that I did not own a computer.  Again, I questioned the need for such an electronic device.  "Jan," she said, "You will love a computer. There is so much information on the Internet."  I pointed to the large stack of music that was calling to me from the piano.  "You see those books, Telma?  If had two or maybe three lifetimes, I still could not get to the bottom of that pile."  I thought to myself, "The Preludes and Fugues of Bach, the Sonatas of Mozart and the Nocturnes of Chopin contain all the information I will ever need."

Alas, my library expanded as did my CD collection.  The tower of music grew higher.  I wondered if a computer would help me to catalogue the volumes of my addictions.  I was also hearing about something called email.  And Jeff Gordon mentioned that computers store pictures and descriptions of female "singles!"  Hmm.


To Myanmar with Love Book Launching Party

27 April 2009
Bangkok , Thailand

Dear Friends,

Last night, at the Nomad Moroccan Restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 12, ThingsAsian Press gave a party to launch the latest volume in their catalogue, "To Myanmar With Love."  (I contributed four essays.)

Almost one hundred animated guests showed up to chat and to exchange travel stories. The Mediterranean food was excellent, the music authentic, and those of us living in Bangkok vowed to return to the restaurant.

My new friend in Bangkok, Janet Brown, the hostess of the party met me at the entrance and brought me to a table with copies of the newly printed book. Also on display were copies of the previous offering, "To Vietnam with Love" as well as Janet's own book, "Tone Deaf in Bangkok ."

Red Shirts Protest: "It's Over!"

May 21, 2010
Friday Night

Dear Friends,

"They were crying.  They were crying."  So reported a friend of mine as he witnessed Thai people gazing at the burnt-out ruins of a local shopping mall.  "They were crying."

This is very unusual behavior.  Thai people normally do not display any emotion in public.  Laughing or crying, affection or anger are rarely seen.  Despite the volume of traffic and the traffic jams around town, no one ever voices or displays any sign of frustration.

Bangkok: March Visitors


26 March 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

March has been my own mad month - of visits and visitors: Ngoc Vi and Thao My; Moon and Kevin; Mai and Mark; Luisa and Dolly; DeeDee and Richard.

Ngoc Vi came to Thailand on a four-day tour with her daughter Thao My. They live near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

I met Ngoc Vi seven years ago near the cathedral in HCMC (Saigon). After a brief chat, she invited me to her sister's wedding the next day.

Ngoc Vi is a specialist in agricultural productivity. She has worked as a consultant to Vietnamese farmers. This year she left her job and is enrolled as a full-time student. She expects to earn a Master's degree in Business Administration.

Thao My is an energetic, talkative, irrepressible four-year-old girl. Her goal was to ride an elephant here in Thailand. She did just that, all alone, according to her mother, at an elephant park south of Bangkok.