Darika answers your questions about friends, co-workers and other annoying people....

My boyfriend and I are close friends with another couple. We have many similar interests. One of them is a foodie, and so am I, so we have a great time exploring interesting restaurants together. My problem is that the other farang's table manners are shocking. He is a well-educated, extremely well-traveled professional with a lot of classy friends besides me. However, he chews with his mouth open and decorates the front of his shirt with his dinner. My dog eats more quietly than he does. This has become so unnerving to me that I can barely stand dine with them again. What should I say?

Obviously you and your partner have chosen this couple as close friends for many different reasons. You do not sound like an anal retentive bitch to me, so you are either blowing your friend's table manners out of proportion or something else is bothering you that you can't admit to yourself. Psychiatry might help. Or hypnosis. Or you could wear a bib and goggles to your next dinner. Or you could figure out that we are all a package deal, and that we all have to put up with a potpourri of things we adore and things we despise in each other in order to have friends. Maybe your protruding nose hair or the queeny way you hold your fork makes him so uncomfortable a table that he inhales his food. Who knows? In any event, blame his mother for his table manners and not him. He is too old to change. And darling, you and I will never dine together.


My best friend is a girl who works in my office. We have a lot of fun together and she does not mind that I am gay. She has an older brother who has been studying in Germany but recently returned to Thailand. She has mentioned several times that she believes her brother is gay but they do not seem to be able to talk about this subject together. She has offered me 5,000 baht if I can "prove" that he is gay, which means for me to seduce him. He is very handsome and I could use 5,000 baht. However something about this makes me feel dangerous. What do you think?>

Darling, you would have to be completely out of your mind to accept such an offer. Of course there is a remote possibility that you would end up with both a handsome boyfriend and a pocket full of money. However, it is more likely that you will embarrass yourself, that your friend will lose the respect of her brother, and that you will lose your best friend. Is all that worth 5000 baht? If not, you should ask for 10,000 and find yourself a new best friend to replace the one who asks you to do such an idiotic thing.


Pa Darika,

Please tell me how to solve a problem I am having with a co-worker in my department. We do a lot of business on the Internet so we are online almost all the time. While I am working he is chatting. I assume he is spending a lot of time looking for guys to have sex with. Almost every afternoon he makes a phone call and tells someone what color shirt he is wearing. Then he disappears for about an hour and a half. Sometimes this happens twice in one day! He complains that he is overworked, but the rest of us end up doing more than our share of the work. Often I need to talk with him when he is away from the office, but his mobile is always shut off. It would be very awkward for me to discuss this with my boss. However, I think he needs to understand that his co-workers know what he is doing and that his laziness is making our entire department look bad. Please tell me how we can make this stop without embarrassing anyone.

Darika understands your desire to handle this problem without anyone becoming embarrassed. Obviously his behavior has been noticed by all of your co-workers and you have discussed the problem amongst yourselves. Rather than confront your colleague, let me give you a suggestion: Around the time your friend normally leaves for his afternoon of recreation, you and your co-workers should each call a friend, tell him what color shirt you are wearing that day, then all leave the office at the same time. Leave this page from AskDarika.com on your screen if you think he will notice it. I am absolutely positive he will get the point. But before you do this, please, please tell me where he is finding all of these boys online. Darika has plenty of free time in the afternoons.


Dear Darika,

I have a friend who is beginning to make me crazy. He comes to my room almost every night, even when I have other things to do. If I want to go out to meet my other friends, he always goes along. I begin to feel like he is my little dog, always following me around. I am looking for a boyfriend, but it is really impossible when I can not be alone with someone. What should I do?

You could change your name and move to another city or you could hire someone to beat him up. But those two solutions are pretty extreme. Do you understand why your friend is so fascinated with you? Is he lonely? Is he learning about life from you as he would learn from a big brother? Maybe he is in love with you or simply enjoys being with you more than being with anyone else. Regardless of his reasons, you should feel flattered by his interest in you, so do not be so quick to throw him away. If your friend is truly loyal, he will repay you when you really need it.

Have you introduced him to your other friends? If he finds other people to enjoy, he may not spend so much time with you. On nights when you do not want to include him in your plans, simply say that someone has asked you on a date and that it might become romantic, then suggest that he go to see a movie or enjoy an evening at a sauna. Sooner or later he will either tell you he loves you or he will move on to someone who he finds more fascinating than you. If he does move on, Darika thinks maybe you will miss him terribly.


Dear Darika,

I am a foreigner working in a major Asian city for two years. I enjoy being here, even though there are some things about local behavior that I find odd, such as coming to a full stop and looking bewildered at the top of an escalator, and men tweezing their facial hair.

Soon after I moved here I bought a condo in an upper middle class building. It is very spacious compared to our options at home. However, my neighbors do some things that I find quite irritating. Even though there is a sign by the lift that says "Do not leave your shoes outside your door" five different languages, many of my neighbours ignore it. Some units have two occupants yet there are eight or ten pair of shoes littering the hallway. I realise thatmost Asians do not wear shoes indoors. I like to be barefoot at home, yet I keep my shoes neatly inside my door.

Many of my neighbours also leave bags of rubbish outside, as if they expect someone else to pick them up and discard them in the bins provided by the building management. What is disturbing is that my next door neighbours have two small dogs that never, ever go out, so I can only imagine what has been deposited in the bags next to their door. Honestly, I cringe at the thought.

Do you have any suggestions about how I might persuade these people to be more orderly?

Gentle Reader,

Your tragedy brings me great pain. Nonetheless, I doubt that you can do anything at all to change the behavior of your neighbors. While suicide is always an option, it is usually messy and I would hate to think that you inadvertently contributed to the disorder where you live.

Try this: steal one of each shoe you find in the hallway, go to the floor below or to the floor above and, assuming there are miscreants on either one of those floors as well, remove one of each shoe you find and replace it with a shoe you have taken from your own floor. You could actually do this on several floors and, in the end, deposit the shoes from the last floor you visited in front of the doors on your own floor. That should send a clear message that there are respectable people in your building who read signs and comply with the rules of the condominium management.

As for the trash, I do not think it would make any difference if one of your neighbors finds a stranger’s trash outside their door any more than they would take notice of their own. The shoe switch will probably be enough to remind the low-lifes where you live of their wanton disregard for propriety.

Oh, and if your building has a lot of security cameras you should probaby disregard my advice.