everything else Selling my body parts to satisfy a debt
Overly active bladder keeping me awake
Addicted to gay iPhone app
Addicted to "little blue pills"
HIV support groups
"Small" equipment
Mental health care shortage in Thailand
(This letter has been translated from Tinglish into English. No, Darika did not dream it up.)

Dear Darika,

I am a young Thai man living in (it does not matter) and I have big trouble. Two years ago my best friend wanted to borrow me 2.5 million baht to buy some land He has no family to give him money. I am not rich but I asked my friend in UK to help. He was my teacher and we have been friends for a long time until he retired and moved back to his home town.

My teacher friend was very generous and loaned me 2.5 million and So my friend bought the land. The people who sold it had lived there for ten years but the deed was a fake and they did not own the land at all. They keep the money and still live nearby. I hired a lawyer and we went to the police to make a criminal complaint. I have paid about 40,000 of my own money for this so far.

Every few weeks the police in (it does not matter) call me and they want 50,000 baht before they send the case to the court. Every time they call I cry for a long time because I feel very terrible. I have no way to pay my teacher back and I do not have 50,000 to give to the police.

>

I heard that you can sell a part of your body like a kidney and you can get a lot of money for it. I want to sell both of my kidneys and everything else. Please help me do this. I do not want anyone to think I cheated my friend.

Sam in (it does not matter)

Dear Sam,

Honestly I thought your letter was just as phony as the deed you mentioned until we had our first long telephone chat.

I can appreciate the torment you are suffering. Only someone who is honest and responsible would be taking this mess as seriously as you are. I commend you for that.

Your solution to this problem is indeed creative, although a bit desperate. I know you are serious and not simply looking for Darika's sympathy. What you are saying, in essence, is that you would end your own life to pay off a loan. That does not seem very practical since you cannot be sure the loan will actually be repaid if you are dead. You suggested in our conversation that I might somehow broker this kind of transaction, which I will not. Do you think your teacher would even want to accept money that came from selling both kidneys, a liver, a heart, two lungs, corneas and everything else?

You have not said whether your teacher friend is pressuring you to pay him back, so it sounds as if he is not. People rarely loan money they cannot afford to lose, and he did not require anything from you to secure the loan. Clearly you feel very guilty about what has happened, but this pressure is coming entirely from yourself and probably not from the teacher.

You have also not mentioned how much responsibility your land-buying friend is taking. Does he feel as terrible as you do about borrowing 2.5 million from you and losing it? It seems to me that he should be the one to pay lawyers and bribe cops. Maybe you would feel better of you shared the pressure you are under with him. Sue him.

Fifty thousand is a lot of money. You could probably pay to have the people who swindled you trampled by elephants and still have money left over. Nevertheless, having your day in court seems imperative. Explain the cop calls to your lawyer and insist that (s)he inform the court that the police are attempting to extort money and are obstructing justice. Maybe one of my readers has a better suggestion.

Sam, you need to face the possibility that this episode might not have a happy ending. Darika hates to see you torture yourself for the rest of your life because of a mistake that you cannot be held responsible for. Please, for your own sake, get some professional counseling so that you can creatively manage pressure and guilt. I will do what I can to find someone who can help you deal with your feelings and put everything into perspective even though such people are difficult to find in this crazy country.

I hope and pray for the best for you. Please call me now and then to assure me that your basic equipment remains intact.

Love, Darika

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Dear Darika,

Now in my early sixties I have a peculiar physical ailment. I drink quite a lot of water during the day and always have. Over the last six months I have been waking five or six times during the night to urinate. This constant interruption of my sleep is causing fatigue and sleepiness during the day. The worst part, however, is that I am afraid to have overnight guests. I have been dating several really nice guys who are used to spending the night cuddling with me, which I quite enjoy. I am so embarrassed by all of this pissing all night that I don't dare invite them. They are all showing signs of being very put off, and think that I am no longer interested in them. What is your advice?

First of all, Darika is not a doctor, although I did play one on TV. So I cannot give you medical advice. I can say, however, that you have "nocturia," which is not uncommon among males your age. There are numerous possible causes including diabetes, alcohol abuse, excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages, congestive heart disease, an infection, prostate problems, and other reasons. The first thing you should do is see a urologist to make sure you do not have a physical problem, then a nephrologist (kidney specialist), who will probably make you pee in a cup and give a blood sample. (Drink plenty of water before you go so that you are able to make the first donation properly if you normally do not "go" often during the day.) Chances are you can be treated with a simple medication and/or lifestyle changes.

As for the other important aspect of your dilemma, simply tell your boys that you are having problems sleeping and that you do not want to allow them to stay the night because they will be disturbed by your restlessness. Do, however, make time to do other things they will enjoy including movies, dinners and a roll in the hay followed by a free taxi ride home.

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Hey Darika,

Have been reading you for a few months now. It seems like there is a contest going on to ask a question that you have not heard before. Haha! Here's mine:

I really love my iPhone. Actually, I only have six apps. What I really love is (a gay social networking app for mobile devices that allows you to find nearby gay men who use the same app, and displays a photo and a brief profile). I am online 24/7. I wake up in the middle of the night and I look through profiles to see who wants to chat. It's the first thing I do in the morning and last thing I do at night and I my eyes and fingers are glued to the phone whenever my boss is not looking. I have only met a couple of guys and they did not work out too well. I need to make some friends. I have only been here for eight months to work and really don't have any.

I am beginning to think that what I am doing is pretty weird, like I am addicted. Is this a problem?

Gentle soul,

Actually, I was stumped by a question only a few weeks ago from a gentleman who lives abroad. He had just returned home after his first trip to Thailand. He is apparently mature, and while in Pattaya met a lad about a third his age. Then he met the young man's friends. Soon thereafter he returned home, leaving behind his self esteem and all of his money. I was shocked. Surely things like this never happen in the Land of Smiles. I am still trying to formulate an appropriate answer that he will not find any more traumatic than the experience he has already endured.

Darika is quite familiar with the application you enjoy so much. (I chose to delete the name from your letter to make our lawyers happy.) I have an iPhone, too. My favorite app is a Mahjongg game I play while I am in taxis. It distracts me from being tempted to indulge in either violent or seductive behavior with the driver, depending on the circumstances. I have won 3,174 games in a row, which proves that I am not yet senile.

I admit that I occasionally use the app you enjoy. It is full of temptations. However, I have come to learn through personal experience that many of the other users are extremely immature, lacking in social skills, liars, thieves, rude, cruel, or merely arrogant pricks. Although it is meant to help find guys nearby, I have been "found" by young gentlemen in Singapore, KL, Luang Prabang and Hanoi who appreciate mature gentlemen who are built for comfort rather than speed. I have been corresponding with them several times a week for as long as a year. It's fun but not a substitute for friends who I come face to face with when I can.

What concerns me most about "social networking" mobile apps and websites is that they have become replacements for personal communication. When is the last time you wrote a letter with pen and paper? I personally know dozens of people who use Facebook as their only form of communication with the rest of the world, and have hundreds of "friends" who are nothing more than photos and statistics, none of whom you can call and ask to water your houseplants if you plan to be away for a week. All of this technology is depriving us of the opportunity to actually meet people and form personal relationships. You have no friends because your telephone has become safe yet artificial replacement for real people. Actually meeting people who you might enjoy requires effort. You actually have to become a part of society, go out, network, smile, shake hands and occasionally give a stranger a word of kindness.

Are you addicted? If there are not already support groups for people who are obsessed with two-dimensional social networking media there eventually will be. Until then, develop your own strategy to use your app in a healthy way. Block everyone who is headless. Block everyone who you would never, under any circumstances, sleep with. Block everyone who is visiting for a few days. Block everyone whose interest is only "chatting" but not dating or relationships. Block everyone in an open relationship. Block Darika. Do this for at least two weeks, then see who is left and initiate conversations that are more than "Hi." Non-sexual compliments work nicely. Block everyone who does not answer you. After another week if you have not had a reasonably intellectual chat with someone who agrees to meet you or have a phone conversation, send your app into the trash. Get a life. People have been meeting each and forming relationships for thousands of years before you got a telephone to protect you from them.

Why not get some apps like CNN or BBC, the smashing Rolls Royce or Louis Vuitton Trunks apps? And maybe even an English/Thai dictionary app to help you to make Thai friends. I have a Bangkok traffic app that is so dazzling that it has helped me get into the pants of at least a dozen taxi drivers. Otherwise, there's Mahjongg. I dare you to beat my record.

Love, Darika

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Darika,

Over the past few months I have developed an unusual substance abuse problem. At least I think it might be a problem. Every morning I take one (of those little blue pills). Usually I am not planning to have sex. I am happy to be single. But maybe I am hoping for it subconsciously. I really love what it does to my (big muscle down there). When the stuff kicks in it suddenly gets warm and tingly. I bought silk boxer shorts because I like how it feels when I walk. Nobody in Big C knows I am getting off just pushing the shopping cart around. Is this too weird or what?

Precious Reader,

It is perfectly healthy to get in touch with your kinky side and enjoy fantasies and fetishes, darling, as long as you do not involve anyone who is unwilling. There is nothing wrong with enjoying "warm and tingly," Darika loves the way her silk teddy makes her feel. However, If you secretly hope to shock people in public places you need to deal with a bigger problem than those pills. Perhaps it would be safer to buy your own shopping cart and push it around home in the company of like-minded friends. If this behavior is not strictly private my only concern is that you might end up (dead). Those pills were probably not meant to be consumed every day unless your doctor says it is OK. Perhaps you should try abstinence or alternate the blue ones like (something that is the same but different). You know what Darika means.

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Darika,

I'm a recently diagnosed HIV positive farang and have been living in Thailand for the last 3 years. I know that there are many HIV positive Thai men living in BKK, but I have no idea where to meet them. Are there any HIV support groups, open to English speaking farangs (yes I am learning Thai but have a way to go before fluency)? Are there any clubs that have an HIV positive night? Are there any websites, with some English, where I can meet positive Thai guys? I don't expect that just because my future partner may have the same HIV status as me that we will somehow be instantly compatible, but after a couple of rejections upon revealing my status, I'm looking for others here in a similar situation. And just for the record, I THOUGHT I was playing safe.

First of all, congratulations for getting tested. Too many people here have their heads in the sand because they are afraid of bad news, so the infection spreads and spreads. Darika's initial reaction to your letter was ‘Why do you want to find a group like this? For dating?' If so, you need to focus on addressing your medical condition first. Your love life will sort itself out naturally. Head for the Silom Community Clinic on the third floor of Bangkok Christian Hospital. They work exclusively with MSM (men who have sex with men). Tell them that you are interested in starting a regular multi-cultural support group. (Yes, my dear, you have to initiate this project yourself if it is what you really, really want. Remember, you can not wait around for someone else to deliver the things you want in life.) Make your own website if you need to"there are plenty of people out there who might help you. And if any of Darika's readers are interested in participating in this kind of a group, or if you do not understand what a support group is, or simply want to buy me the new Bentley convertible I so desperately need please write me at again. I sincerely hope that you will be able to create this kind of group. And to everyone who reads this column who has sex with another human being more than once a year, please get tested and get tested regularly. It's your responsibility. Do you get it?

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Dear Darika,

This will not be a long story. My problem is that my thing is small. I am not happy about this and I deside already to do something. I am young and right now I want to have sex a lot. Everything OK when I am get strong. But not as big as other guys I see at the sauna. When I go there I only watch because I am afraid because maybe somebody will think I am not good enough. Please tell me what I can do about this problem.

Precious Reader,

After reading your letter I pulled out my copy of Gray's Anatomy and looked up "thing" without success. My friend Mitzi was clever enough to point out that you were probably talking about your p-e-n-i-s, which gets an entire chapter in Gray's. Before we proceed, you and I should get over our use of pseudonyms (willie, ding-dong, woody, pecker, rod, big brother, little brother, prick, pecker, Johnson, boner, dipstick, John Thomas, skin flute, and so forth) for this awkward word and just call it a "penis."

Darika is fascinated that from time to time during the last three thousand years people have been obsessed with unrealistic expectations about the proportion of the male sex organ. The Greeks and Romans decorated their homes with images of men sporting horse-sized erections. King Jayavarman II, who built Angkor Wat, carved 2km of stone stream bed with a thousands of XXL stone lingas (penises). Hindus have always considered linga carvings to have special properties of fertility. Even today, many Thai people visit Nai Lert Park (along the klong next to the Raffles Hotel on Wireless Road) to pray to the penis gods for all kinds of sexual favors. Some of the penises there are so big that they have penises of their own. Oh my.

People have been worshiping penises throughout history, and most men worship their own. So abra cadabra, clever entrepreneurs have figured out how to make money by making men think about the size of their wanger. Since Viagra added an extra twenty years to the virility of the baby-boomer generation, obsession with size is a hot topic--especially on the internet. Some actual samples from Darika's email junk folder today include the following subjects: "Hot and new Rock hard manhood, multiple explosions and several times more"." "Make your dick depend on you, not you depend on your dick." "The world is getting bigger; your penis has to get bigger too." "The newest Enhanced male power and unlimited prowess"." "On surgery you can end up with a shorter penis then before. With Penis Enlarge Patch this is impossible." "On taking Penis Enlargement Virility Patch PX your penis will find it hard to fit into tiny holes." Heavens. It's a good thing that Darika's mom has a good spam filter. Regardless of your endowment it is impossible not to feel inadequate after being subjected to so many of these commercial messages.

In answer to your plea for advice, let's begin with what does not work: patches, herbal concoctions, magic creams and pumps. Except for the latter, you have no idea what the ingredients are and you may damage your health. Pumps are fun toys, but you could damage your little brother irreparably if you over-do it. In short, do not believe anything you read in an unsolicited email.

That leaves medical solutions. You can ask a plastic surgeon to inject any one of a number of mushy substances--including fat and plastic jellies--under the skin of your penis to make it more plump. The result will probably be a novelty that will not increase your pleasure and will probably cause you more embarrassment than you believe you are experiencing now. What is the point of irreversibly transforming "dinky" into "grotesque?" Darika has seen such things with her own eyes, and they are not pretty.

One surgical procedure actually works. Between one half and one third of the penis is inside the body. The part outside is attached to the pubic bone with ligaments that do not stretch very far. By severing these ligaments you Free Willy, so to speak. For several months following the surgery you have to give it a pull ever day so that the hidden part inside the body begins to emerge. It might be fun to ask someone to do this for you. Since some discomfort is involved, however, it might not be the erotic experience you had hoped for. I doubt that this procedure is covered under the thirty baht health scheme, so you may have to save up quite a bit of money to pay for it.

At this point, you are probably expecting Darika to tell you to quit complaining, to thank your lucky stars that your body functions properly regardless of your size, find someone who is into small dicks and get on with your life. Instead, I hope you will take heart in the letter below.

Kisses on yours, Darika

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Two Letters, One Answer

The first letter:

Please help me with a problem at work that is getting out of hand (sorry for the pun, as you will soon see). I own a small but popular bar and restaurant. Most of my staff have been with me since we first opened and I love them like my own family. One employee, however, is having some unusual personal problems. When he becomes upset, which happens more and more lately, he disappears into the men's room. I figured he was just chilling out in there. However, after he did not come out after ten minutes a few days ago I went in to check on him. He was washing his hands. At first this did not seem unusual until it was clear that he was washing his hands very vigorously and was not stopping. He did not look well, so I asked another employee to take him home. Now I hear from other staff members that this guy washes his hands at least eight or ten times every night for at least five minutes. This is really bizarre. I don't want to lose him because I like him a lot and my employees and I are a big family. However, he isn't doing my business much good if he spends all night in the loo. I'm afraid some of my customers will find him there and will be alarmed. I do not know where to begin to fix this problem. Do you think it's drugs?

The second letter:

My boyfriend and I have been living together for almost 2 years.  Our relationship is like a rollercoaster ride, sometime up but most of the time down. He used to abuse alcohol before (when he is drunk, he turns violence), but has quit drinking because that's the condition I gave him if he wants to be with me. 

Anyway, that doesn't solve the problem. He always like to create a big drama over small issues. He has problems sleeping, although sometimes he has problems staying awake. His insecurity and mood swing is driving me crazy sometimes. I can't explained to you how tired I am dealing with his behavior. I have advised him to see a psychiatrist to get some help, but he got angry with me saying, "I am not crazy".  I don't mean that.  I just want to help him to build up his confidence, be more optimistic with life, and have more respect towards others. 

Anyway, every successful man has someone always there to give him the support. But with him, sometime, I feel like drowning.I really need an understanding boyfriend, and I hope is him.

What should I do?

Precious Readers,

Honestly, I myself am not sure where to begin. Indeed, the challenge for your loved ones is how to begin to deal with these problems themselves.

First off, Darika is not a psychiatrist, psychologist, sociologist, a psychic visionary or even a zoologist. However, I have spent many, many hours on psychiatrists' couches and do not feel uncomfortable broaching the issue of emotional health (or the feel of genuine leather on bare skin).

I shared your letters with my own shrink when I went for a re-supply of my Happy Pills last week. He confirmed my amateur diagnoses. The hand washer probably suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder ("OCD")and Mr. Mood Swing is most likely clinically depressed, although he may have other issues as well. This does not mean that either one of these men are crazy. It means that they have a medical problem that can probably be treated easily by a doctor with conversation and miracle drugs.

Unfortunately, both guys may not understand that they have a problem at all. If they do, they may not know what to do about it or are reluctant to seek help out of fear that they will be branded as "insane."

Sadly, Thai people are far behind Westerners when it comes accepting psychiatry. This does not mean that it is easy for Westerners to recognize that they are sick and to get help. It means that mental health care is far more stigmatized and far less available in Asia than in the West. When I visit Dr. Happiness every few months it I can not help but notice that most of the other patients are farang.

Both OCD and depression are treatable in early stages. Modern drugs can make life as normal as it probably can be in Thailand. Left untreated, however, these problems can become increasingly unmanageable, leading to a rapid deterioration of your friend's quality of life. So I congratulate both of you for asking for help.

How do you convince someone to take the fist brave step and seek professional help? That's the difficult part. Compassion will work better than threats. Begin with a relaxed conversation with your friend and tell him how worried you are about his behavior. You could even say (lie?) that you have known people with similar problems and you know someone who can help. Be prepared to refer him to someone who can help. Most major hospitals in Thailand have at least one psychiatrist on staff. Or consult the Royal College of Psychiatrists website: www.rcpsycht.org/

Above all, let your friend know that you will be patient and supportive during his treatment. By all means do NOT threaten to leave him if he decides he is not ready to take this step yet. If it helps, there is an excellent Thai-language resource on the internet that your friend can explore privately: www.infomental.com

Good luck and thank you for writing.

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