My younger friend (!) turns 49 this week so has been ribbed mercilessly by me about how close to a half century she is. The irony isn’t lost on me that I’ve already passed that magnificent marker of when life does truly begin.
We seem to have got into a bit of a tradition of celebrating our birthdays with a Bangkok staycation; this year was no exception. After supposedly just meeting for coffee, I surprised her with a home-from-home night at the Sheraton Grande. The treats included eating ourselves silly at Mrs Balbir’s Indian restaurant, enjoying a cake sent up to the hotel room (they seem to recognize the annual event!), amusingly decorated with a Happy ‘Belated’ Birthday decoration (it’s actually three days before the event!), the metaphorical opening of small gifts (I didn’t use wrapping paper this year in a quest to care for the planet – though I’m not sure if wrapping paper matters anymore or if it is all about plastic reduction), a pedicure, a jaunt to Rivercity Bangkok to see the ‘From Monet to Kandinsky’ exhibition’, which was brilliant if you are local and haven’t seen it, and finally a trip to listen to ‘Pictures at An Exhibition’ by the Thai Philharmonic orchestra, which was also fantastic. (More culture in a day than I usually experience in six months!)
I should, just perhaps add, in case you are thinking that all I do in Bangkok is live the life of riley, the treats were all to be squeezed into 24 hours before I dutifully return to the homestead (well Thana City condo) to support Betsy in her final few days of exam revision (should I mention that all this support actually consisted of was making cups of Robinson’s orange and serving up more helpings of Hob Nobs than is healthy for anyone!)
Anyway, I am pretty secure in the knowledge that ‘younger’ friend, Rachel has had a lovely time, at least she told me she did - MANY times! We do all enjoy treats at any age – I guess it shows that you are cared for. What is interesting to contemplate is the age you reach when giving treats suddenly provides as much if more pleasure than receiving them, and what the motivation behind that is. Thinking back to my ‘small kindnesses’ post in April, I guess I’m back to that idea that we all, at least most of us, are ultimately selfish beings and when apparently ‘giving’ we are actually ‘taking’, thus any generosity of action is inherently self-gratification as much as anything else. Perhaps, as adults, we just hide our selfishness better than young kids. They are still being honest and true to themselves when they only dole out party bags at ‘mum’s request, when it is the tearing open of their own birthday presents that they are in fact desperate to do!
I am now rolling my own eyes at myself at how I’ve managed to turn treating a friend into a treatise on being selfish. Is the masquerading of selfish actions as generous ones one of the life skills we give our children? What am I like? Don’t answer. Anyway, back to revision… Though, having said that Betsy seems a bit exhausted with all her ESS and Spanish learning so it’s maybe time to suggest to the family that we pop to ‘Terminal Bike Cafe’ a little eatery around the corner for some coffee and cake. See how generous and thoughtful I am ...!