Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Researching a Thai Biography

There's some interleaving in my blog posts at the moment: as well as sorting out notes from the Parliament, I'm currently gathering some information here in Thailand for a personal project: a biography of my mother, the late Fuengsin Trafford (the following photo of her is one of my favourites):

In my 10 day stopover on my way back from Melbourne to the UK, I've been showing old photographs like the one above to relatives and friends, seeking to learn more about her early life - her childhood, her university studies (and many outings) at Chulalongkorn and afterwards her time at the Thonburi Technical Institute, Bangmod (now King Mongkut University of Technology, Thonburi). I've been using a voice recorder and subsequently transferring the audio to my Eee PC: everything that has appeared online in the past couple of weeks or so has emanated from or been processed on this netbook, truly a travelling companion! (And I've been fortunate enough to have good Wifi access with reasonable broadband connections.

Today, one of my kalyanamittas, Khun Jo, took me to the National Library in Bangkok. My grandparents' home was formerly in Rajadamnoen, in the city centre, which became a target for British and American bombers in the Second World War. Many families moved across the Chao Phraya to Thonburi, though my grandparents may have moved a few years before as they were the first to arrive at what was then an orchard without any dwellings. I was looking for some background information and photographs from that time and in the short time we had we were able to find a book that specifically mentioned this movement from one side of the river to the other.

I feel there's a long way to go, not least to understand the geography - I recall two of my mother's friends taking her to a certain restaurant around a big roundabout; only today did I learn that this was in Rajadamnoen. Evidently there's much more for me to explore!

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