Thai Twist: A Cultural Romance
Genre: International Contemporary Romance
An elephant statue, a long-lost relative, and a handsome native add up to a romp through Thailand
For high school graduate Gina Campanello, winning a trip for two to Thailand seems more like a chore than a prize. The only available travel companion is her sister, the country is a long plane ride from Tucson, and besides, she’d rather stay in town and flirt with college boys. But when a neighbor asks Gina to deliver a package, she has a mission. While Rachel visits every available temple, Gina checks out leads. She has so many setbacks that by the time she learns that the man she’s looking for lives in Chiang Mai, she’s en route to Phuket!
The Most Precious Cat by D.R. Ransdell
The other day a lady got mad at me for taking a picture of her cat. What? Yes, you heard me right. I was at a public park, the lady lived next to it, and she had presumably let her cat out for a while to take some fresh air. I happened to be taking a walk in the park. As usual, I had a small camera with me. I saw the cat (not the lady), and crouched down to take its picture without thinking about it. The cat was a cute striped model who had snuggled into the grass and was apparently stalking something dangerous such as a ladybug.
“What are you doing?” the lady yelled.
This was a rather stupid question as it was quite obvious I had just taken a picture of a cat.
“That’s my cat!”
I wanted to say, hello, tell your cat to stay off public property, but I couldn’t do it. In fact I was fascinated with the woman’s anger. She was so possessive of her cat? She thought I was going to sell his picture to a glossy magazine and make millions of dollars?
The whole concept was fascinating. My actions had been a natural extension of 1) loving cats 2) seeing a cat for the first time 3) being delighted to see a new cat 4) wanting to take him home with me in my mind 5) honoring any feline. I should have explained this to the “cat owner.” (Who’s to say she was really a cat owner at all? She could have been some derelict who lied to me in the first place.) I should have explained that I was paying her cat the highest possible honor. After all, for every picture I take, I then have to go over it to see if it’s in focus, decide whether to keep it, if I decide to keep it I have to decide how to categorize it, etc., etc., etc.
Actually I was a little stunned that someone had yelled at me in a public place for doing something that wasn’t dangerous. Part of me wanted to fight back and defend myself, but then again, who knows what the woman had in her outdated pocket bag! It was a white plastic box that she had probably picked up at K-Mart at least a decade earlier.
Besides, in my own way, meaning as an author, I was already starting to have fun. A woman yells at another woman for taking a picture of her cat, who is prowling on public grounds. What kind of deranged character would that be? Someone who had been jilted? Someone who had been dumped by her husband of thirty years because he had run off with a bimbo? Someone who had just found out that her brother was going to inherit all the family money and she was going to inherit a camper that only reminded her of terrible summer “vacations” with the whole family?
“I should erase the picture?” I said.
“You better!” she yelled.
I pretended to. But of course I didn’t. (In all honestly, I’d taken two pictures, neither one very good.) I needed the reminder that not everyone can enjoy a beautiful day or a walk in the park or the simple pleasure of seeing a beautiful cat hidden in the grass. That’s where I have to be thankful that I’m an author. Anybody else would have gotten mad at the woman and gone off to complain about her. Instead I’ve filed her away. After all, it’s about time for me to start a new murder mystery, so I need all the deranged characters I can get!
Excerpt from THAI TWIST:
Our driver lurched to avoid the tuk-tuk, sending me careening into my sister. The Thai golf cart scooted over, allowing our taxi to jet forward into the night.
“See?” I asked my sister as I removed my elbow from her ear. “This is a mistake. If we jump out now, we only have to walk a few miles to get back to Bangkok International.”
Rachel smiled without making eye contact. As we flew down the six-lane motorway, she orientated herself by watching road signs. “Gina, back home you complain that all the drivers are too slow.”
“In Tucson half the drivers are snow birds. They value life,” I said.
“Here the townspeople are Buddhist. They value life too.”
“Not the drivers.” I peered at the ID card taped to the glove compartment, but the name had so many syllables that I couldn’t read them as we bounced along.
I wiped sweat off the back of my neck. At ten at night, the air was so hot I could drink the humidity. I could hardly wait to feel the heat of the scorching day that was sure to follow.
“Stupid contest!” I continued. “I only entered because I was bored.”
Rachel braced herself against the front passenger seat in anticipation of the driver’s next abrupt lane change. “See how well it worked, Gina? You’re not bored now!”
No, I was too busy wondering if our speedmobile had any brakes.
I cursed myself for entering the contest in the first place. I’d won the Midwest Envy Contest by guessing January 13th as the night of Tucson’s final winter frost. I assumed the prize would be something useful such as an MP3 player, but foreign travel? For days I went around telling everyone I’d won a trip to Taiwan. “Thailand,” my mom corrected me. “Whatever,” I snapped. I had free plane tickets and accommodations for Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, but none of my friends wanted to go with me. None! They either had summer jobs or wanted to spend time with their boyfriends. I’d only invited my sister to accompany me because I thought she would be too busy with her performances and violin students to accept.
“You go Loyalty Hotel?” shouted the driver, taking his eyes completely off the road while he turned around to address us. His eyes were slightly cross-eyed.
“Royalty,” Rachel shouted back.
“As what I say, Loyalty!” He gripped the wheel with both hands as he slid through a yellow light.
“Did you hear that?” Rachel whispered. “He can’t pronounce the R.”
“You likey capital city,” shouted the driver. “Thely thely nice.”
“You see?” Rachel continued sotto voce. “Vs are hard too. It’s so interesting linguistically.”
I did not want a language lesson. Thai was a nightmare, a tonal language with reverse word order, particles at the ends of words, and curly-cues instead of Latin script. Who needed that much trouble? Besides, nobody learned Thai for a three-week trip. Except for my sister.
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D.R. Ransdell writes from Tucson, Arizona, where she enjoys good swimming weather most of the year. She has a mystery series featuring Andy Veracruz and a contemporary international romance series featuring Gina Campanello. During the school season she teaches composition to international students at the University of Arizona. She also moonlights in a mariachi band, which gives her plenty of ideas for murder victims. When vacation starts, she hits the road, leaving behind several mischievous cats. One of her favorite travel destinations is Greece, where she can devote afternoons to splendid beaches and evenings to bouzouki music. Please visit her at http://www.dr-ransdell.com.