Koh Samui

Book

Koh Samui is a tourist island in Thailand, a nation in South Asia with a population of about eighty million. There are four main beaches on the island: Chaweng, Lamai, Bophut and Maenam. I generally stay on Lamai, close the Big Rock. Tourists from all over the world travel there in droves every year.

Thailand is a monarchy. The Thai people are attached to their King. Unlike a few of the nearby countries, Thailand has never been a under foreign influence, although it was attacked by the Japanese during World War II.

I first heard about Samui from a Canadian friend, Neil Thompson. We met in the Campus Co-op in Toronto, co-operative housing at the University of Toronto, where we stayed. He traveled through South Asia, including Thailand, in 1984.

After he heard that I was going to Malaysia, he advised me to visit Koh Samui. I did that during my first school break, in June 1987, with a Harry a friend from City College. Harry was a biology teacher there.

Samui changed and is developed to a greater extent than it used to be. A couple of neighboring island were added for tourism from that time, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.

What transpired on Samui in the year 1989 to 1990? I set out to write a book, and gained knowledge regarding business, friendship, and existence. What follows is an account of what happened.

After teaching in Malaysia for two years, in a matriculation program, I felt I wanted to write. So, in May 1989 I went off to write my book. Samui had everything I wanted, except decent bread. I thought I would make my own.

This was not just any kind of bread; it was sourdough rye bread, nutritious bread containing all essential and non-essential amino acids. No sooner did I think of baking bread, I had the thought of making a few extra loaves and selling them for to a few friends. This would help defray my expenses. So that’s how it started.

Koh Samui

Here things begin to get complicated

Walk on the wild side

Dear reader. Now we are approaching the Koh Samui part of the tale. Things – as well as the writer – really unravel here. Fasten your seat-belt. Get ready for a different kind of narrative. I am thinking of the movie, Fast and Furious. I am talking about adventure. A thriller.

This is regarding a part when, as people say, I went for a “walk on the wild side.” I think there is a tune by Lou Reed with those words in it. I nearly didn’t make it back. Samui is a bit like Hotel California to a few people. “You can check in anytime, but you can never leave.”

I met a man from the US once on my way to Bangkok in Chumphon, a city of about 30,000 people about 500 km south of Bangkok. When I told him about my activities in Samui, he said:

“Ah, I heard that’s the place where people disappear.” This was not a comforting thought.

This is different from what I narrated before. Different from growing up under socialism in the East or adjusting to capitalism in the West. This is Asia. A different world, environment, and culture.

The past in this part of the world lingers everywhere. In the temples, in the customs, in the people. I think it’s called tradition. It was like stepping into a distant past and an uncertain future – at the same time.

Thailand, they say, is a land of smiles. Indeed. The name means “land of the free.” Liberals should feel right at home there. But beware. Someone wrote a book called “The Killing Smile.” Another person wrote “The Beach.”

From what I understand, these books bring out a side of Thailand that one hardly notices when one goes there as a tourist. I can certainly attest to the fact that my experience as an aspiring entrepreneur was radically different from my experience as a tourist.

As a tourist, you put your money on the line. As an entrepreneur, you must raise the stakes. You put your life on the line, too. That does not mean that tourists may relax. Many a tourist also did not make it back.

Samui is wild. As a tourist, I straightaway appreciated it. There was an experience of freedom. Few rules. But this does not mean no rules. People for example generally do not wear helmets when riding motorbikes.

I think it was the motorcycle rides that did it. Harry and I rented a bike each and went for a ride on the ring road. The air was fresh, the breeze was invigorating, the sky was blue and the palm trees alongside the roadside were a dark green, happily reflecting the sunlight on their leaves, as if returning a greeting from the sun. It was a fine feeling. I call it the “Koh Samui feeling.”

I think other people experience it too, and that is why the island has become so popular. Of course, it is not what it used to be, but it still retains a considerable degree of its original charm.

It was the pristine beauty of the island that attracted me to the point that I even wanted to live there. I think you have to experience it to believe it. You can see Samui on YouTube, and there are many photos and blogs on the Internet about it. You can even travel there, if you can afford it. But be careful.

For Samui has a darker side. First, the ring road was described to me as a dangerous road by a professional athlete from Montreal, Canada, whom we met on the ferry. A bookseller agreed. The death-rate is high, especially as people do not wear helmets, and typically drive back to their resorts drunk, especially late at night. Someone told me that a person on average dies on Samui every day. I myself had two motorcycle accidents there. Luckily, neither was too serious.

Malaysia 1987 to 1989

Kuala Lumpur

I arrived late at night. The flight was altogether 22 hours long, including a four-hour stopover at Hong Kong. I took a taxi to the Shah Village Motel, in Petaling Jaya. It was hot and humid. I watched the palm trees from the taxi on the way.

“So, this is the tropics,” I said to myself. I used to read about the tropics in various adventure stories. Now I was here in person.

I checked into the Motel. It was beside a football field, in the heart of PJ. They were expecting me. I went upstairs to and unwound. The next day I went to the College. There I met Stan MacFarlane, the Director. He appeared to be a gentleman, conservative and cheerful. Retired but definitely not tired.

I later found that in Canada he used to be the principal of a private school in Peterborough, that was rated as the number one private institution in Canada, from six hundred schools, by the conservative think tank, the Fraser Institute. It did not surprise me. Stan had high standards. He expected – and rightly so – the same from his staff.

The school was in a shop lot. I went to class the day after arrival. I taught economics, which was my minor in the university. I already had experience teaching it from Canada. The students were polite. They had “Asian values,” I guess. During the break, I went to get a newspaper. To my surprise, there were no newspapers.

“This is strange,” I thought to myself. “No newspapers?” There was a problem and the papers were not delivered that day.

“Oh well,” I thought to myself. I went back.

I found out later that there was a plan to hire non-Mandarin speakers as administrators in Chinese schools. Apparently, this did not go down well with a few people. Chinese people in particular were unhappy, as they wanted to preserve the ethnic character of the education of their children. This required, among other things, Mandarin-speaking administrators. Of course, at that time I did not know any of this. I only learned about this later.

City College

City College was a private school, located in PJ. It was started by an Australian fellow. A Malaysian businessman bought it afterwards for four million Malaysian ringgits. The school offered a Canadian Matriculation program, recognized by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada.

The program had two hundred students when I joined. When I left four years on, the enrolment was up to six hundred. It was profitable. In 1988 it was purchased by another party for twenty-two million Malaysian ringgits, payable in shares.

Students were well behaved. There were no disciplinary problems, like I used to have in Canada. I guess it was those “Asian values.” They respected their teachers. It reminded me of a song by Merle Haggard, “Okie from Muskogee.” It’s a song about being traditional. The lyrics mentioned that “the kids still respect the college dean” in Oklahoma.

I could relate to this way of thinking. It wasn’t right for students to address teachers by their first names. I was discovering tradition. There was a sense of rank in Asia. None of this western egalitarianism. I think Allan Bloom would have approved.

Accommodation

I took a room, with an air conditioner, near the Sri Aman School, in Section 14 Petaling Jaya. I rented a place nearby. The landlady was Chinese. There was an air conditioner in the room. I paid RM 250 per month.

I would take a taxi to work every day. I would flag it down at the roundabout near the house. The fare was just about three ringgits one way. The taxis that were used in those days were little diesel vehicles, made in Germany. On the way back, I would also use a taxi.

The old landlady would make me a flask of hot water every morning. There was another tenant living there, a Chinese fellow by the name of Vincent. He worked nearby. He told me that the foreign workers in factories were earning two hundred and twenty ringgits a month. That seemed to be a modest income.

“How can anyone survive on so little money?” I thought to myself.

There were not many unions in Asia. There was a different understanding of human rights. It is a different culture.

I want to go back

I noticed that I sweated a lot. One morning on the way to school, I realized that by the time I reached the outside gate, which was less than ten meters from the house, I had already worked up a sweat.

“I don’t think I can take this heat,” I said to myself. I resolved to tell Stan that I wanted to go back to Canada. I was preparing a little speech to him in my mind.

“Stan,” went the speech, “I’m very sorry, but I don’t think I can take this tropical heat. I think I need to go back to Canada.” I was rephrasing the speech in different ways, trying to minimize the shock for him. After a while, on the way to the College, a thought popped into mi mind:

“Oh, come on, don’t give up so easily. Try a little harder…” a little voice as it were said to me.

“OK, I’ll try harder,” I replied to the voice.

Then I realized that among the reasons I was sweating so much was that I had not adjusted my diet to the tropical climate. I continued to eat pretty much the same food as I consumed in Canada. I took milk, cheese, butter and similar foods, all of which produced a lot of heat. After I changed my diet, I did not sweat as much anymore. I finished the semester.

Dan

The accounting teacher was a person from Canada by the name of Dan. Before coming to Malaysia, Dan taught for nine years in the Bahamas. He had all kinds of tales to tell. The most appalling were bar fights. It was worse than what you generally see in movies. Very violent.

Dan was a ladies’ man. He always had a girlfriend. He would take out his girlfriend on the weekends to KL. He was renting a bungalow in section 14, PJ. He would then rent out rooms to various tenants, mostly expats. I think he made enough on the rentals that he himself did not have to pay any rent.

Chocolate bar

I bought a bar of chocolate and ate it. That evening I developed stomach cramps. I started to feel hot and cold alternatively. The cramps were increasing in both intensity and frequency. I knew something was not right. I kept putting the blanket on myself when the cold spell came. A few minutes later, when I started to feel hot again, I removed the blanket.

This went on until the early morning hour. At a point I thought that I might not make it. At about 4:30 am I realized that the cramps were getting less frequent and less painful, I realized that I would make it after all. Now it was just a matter of waiting it out.

Dan told me later that worms of a specific got into the chocolate during processing. The worms in the chocolate would be dead when the product was finished. But it was not the worms that made you sick.

This particular type of worms, according to a scientist reporting on the matter, produced a particular substance in their bodies, which would protect them against being eaten. Birds would not eat these worms because of this substance. The substance is strychnine. It looks I had strychnine poisoning without realizing it. After that I was extra cautious about buying or eating chocolates.

Koh Samui

The first summer, in June 1987, Harry the biology teacher was going for a holiday in Koh Samui. I asked him if I could tag along.

“Sure, no problem,” he said.

So, we went by train together. The train trudged out of KL. It was an extended ride, a night train. When we woke up in the morning we were at the border. It took about forty minutes to get through the border. Afterwards it was an additional four hours or so to Surat thani. There we took a boat to the island. It was my introduction to Koh Samui.

Koh Samui is a big island with a ring road approximately fifty kilometres long. There were many resorts on the island. We stayed at the Weekender, run by a retired military officer. Harry drank Thai whisky at night, and had trouble getting up the following day. He had a bad headache. I did not drink the night before, so I was fine.

Finally, he came out. We rented a motorbike each and went on a ride. It was great. Few people on Samui wear helmets. We didn’t either. One got an exhilarating feeling from the fresh air, a feeling of freedom, blue skies above and the lush greenery all around. I call it the Koh Samui feeling. I think many people experience it, and that’s why they keep going back. But Samui also has a darker side.

Students

I saw that the students would memorize the notes I wrote for them, and later regurgitate almost verbatim what I wrote. I thought I would try a different approach. I gave no notes and told them to write point form notes of what I said.

I guess this did not work very well, because Stan got an irate message from the proprietor, saying the students were unhappy because I did not give notes. Stan, however, defended me. In any case, I went back to giving them notes, but I put them in point form. I would eventually develop a method where I would write the question in full sentence form but would give the answer to it in point form below. I would also use peer tutoring as a teaching method.

Peer tutoring

This was not something I learned in teacher’s college. Rather it happened from a kind of desperation. I noticed that after explaining a certain topic, a few students would understand it, but most of them did not. I explained it again, in a somewhat different way, and the same thing would happen. A few more students would understand it, but the majority still did not get the point.

One of the students in front who looked as if he had understood it from the beginning started to look a little bored. So, after my third explanation, I turned to him and said,

“Here, why don’t you explain it to them,” and I passed him the whiteboard marker.

The student did an excellent job. After he finished, I asked him to pick another student to go through the material. This went on a few times more until after about five or six different explanations by four or five different people it finally seemed that practically everyone understood the lesson.

It looked a bit like a marathon session where each runner would pass the Olympic torch (pen) to the next person. It was very dynamic. It was also entertaining, because the students made a few jokes along the way. They paid extra attention when a friend of theirs did the explaining, rather than the teacher. I merely observed the entire proceedings from the back. The class became lively. It was a spectacle. Who says learning is no fun?

I used this method ever since afterwards in my work as a teacher. An inspector from Ontario who witnessed it complimented me and gave me a rating of “good. Later, Stan also gave me an excellent reference.

Shah Alam

After a while I wanted a little more privacy. I rented an apartment – a flat – in section six, in Shah Alam. I bought a motorcycle for the purpose of transportation. The flat was fully furnished and air conditioned. The owner was some Indian fellow. The Chines lady was not happy to see me go. So, I would commute every day from Shah Alam to the College.

I remember one time a friend from Canada came to see me in Shah Alam. One night I heard loud banging on my door, with someone shouting my name. I opened the door and it was my friend. He was of Korean background. He told me that in South Korea, at least at that time, you could not buy a house with a bank loan. Either you had the money, or you had to go without a house.

He stayed in Malaysia for a day or two. We had an evening meal in Damansara Utama. Then he flew on to Canada. He was on his way back to from a trip to South Korea and made a stopover in Malaysia. It was good to see him.

Shah Alam Club

After I finished my first year at the College, I was thinking whether to stay or not. I kind of felt isolated in Shah Alam. I did not know anyone there, except a Chinese lady who was selling flowers at the PKNS complex in Shah Alam. I asked her if she could help me get a membership in the Shah Alam Club. The Club had good facilities, several restaurants, a library and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. I made my decision whether to remain in Malaysia contingent on being accepted into the Club.

I was accepted. The lady’s husband recommended me to become a member. This way, I was able to go for a swim in the mornings before heading to PJ to teach. I purchased a second-hand motorbike for the purpose of transportation back and forth.

Motorbike accident

One weekend evening a friend of mine called me from KL.

“Hey Leslie, what are you doing?” Steve said.

“Ah, just relaxing at home. Watching TV,” I said.

“Why don’t you join us in KL?” he said. I thought about it for a moment. Then I said:

“OK, I’m on the way.” I hopped on the bike and started riding to KL. It was eight pm. As I was riding along the Batu Tiga Road, the skyline of KL emerged in the distance.

“What a beautiful sight,” I thought to myself.

Before I even finished this thought, I felt that the bike began to descend into the ground.

“How can this be?” I thought to myself.

I felt a major jolt. The bike ran into a barrier. I flew off the bike into the air. I realized that I had hit a pothole. In fact, I knew which pothole it was, as I have seen it before and always managed to avoid it. This time, in the dark, I just forgot about it.

I flew in the air, expecting the inevitable. It wasn’t long in coming. I hit the road and bounced on it several times until I slowly came to a stop. I was shocked. My first reaction was to deny what was happening.

“This is not happening to me,” I said to myself.

As I said this, I felt as it were a dark shadow emerging from behind and gradually covering whatever was visible. In about two or three seconds, the darkness would hide everything.

I realized that I was about to fall unconscious. Being in the center of the road, it was not a good idea to fall unconscious. I also realized – in a matter of split seconds – that it was the unwillingness to face reality that was about to make me fall unconscious. I knew that to remain conscious, I had to accept reality.

“No,” I contradicted myself, “This is happening to me.” As I said that, the dark edge that was just forty degrees from the ground, stopped, and began to recede. I knew at that moment I would remain conscious.

I gathered myself together, bleeding, and dragged the bike to the side of the road. A security guard from a place nearby helped me with the bike. I left it with him for a few days. I said I would come back for it later, and that in the meantime he could use it.

He called me a taxi. I went to a “clinic” where I received first aid. This particular lady, however, placed the bandages directly on the wounds with the sand still in them. I could not believe my eyes but said nothing. In a few hours I would go to a proper hospital.

I went back to sleep, as I was exhausted. The following morning, I called Stan telling him what happened and that I would be late for work. I then took a taxi to a hospital. It was Assunta, in PJ. There I finally received proper treatment.

Assunta Hospital

There was a nurse, in her early twenties, working in Assunta. She replaced my dressings for about a week or so. I would drop by at the hospital on the way to work. The hospital appeared to have decent facilities.

After a few days, I no longer had to have my arm in a sling. I improved. After this experience, I changed the bike for a car. It was a second-hand Renault 1.0. I had it fixed up a by a mechanic in PJ. Raj the mechanic was a cheerful fellow and overhauled my car for a reasonable price.

Going to Samui

After two years at the College, I thought I would write a book. I would do it in Samui. I did not quite know what book I would write. It was April, 1989. I handed in my resignation and prepared to go to Samui. I would drive up there with the Renault. It turned out to be quite an adventure. Stay tuned.

OISE

I still entertained the hope of doing a PhD somewhere. After working at Eastern College, and a couple of other visa schools, Park Avenue Academy and Albion College, I enrolled in a Master’s degree program at the Ontario Institute of Studies for Education. With two years of full-time teaching experience at the matriculation level, I had no trouble being accepted. I enrolled in the Department of History and Philosophy.

Some courses were quite interesting. The courses on Alternative Schools, with Malcolm Levin (US), and another course of Moral Education with Clive Beck (Australia) in particular stood out. Some courses I took about religious education were less interesting. In one course in particular I had to read essays by writers from a single school of thought, logical positivism. Of course, these people did not take a very kind view of religion.

I began to get restless after a while. Then I decided to take the remaining four of the ten one semester courses required for the degree outside of OISE. I took all four of the courses in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

The most interesting course was on Hegel’s Berlin Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, taught by Professor Emeritus, Kenneth Schmitz. I wrote a paper on Hegel’s Early Theological Writings and managed an “A.” Someone told me that getting an “A” was equivalent to getting acceptance into the PhD program. It was not to be.

The Chairman of the Philosophy Department informed me that I had to take additional undergraduate courses, mostly in analytical philosophy. This was his field, and the specialty of many of the Professors in the Department. Schmitz was part of the “old school,” people with an interest in “continental philosophy,” Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche and others. I sensed there was a bit of a rift in the Department.

As I had no particular interest in analytical philosophy, which struck me as remarkably similar to logical positivism, I said “No thank you.”

Eastern College

I finished my work at the University of Toronto, and I was thinking of getting a proper job rather than painting and paperhanging. I saw an advertisement in the paper for the job of a sports coordinator at a place called Eastern College. I was interviewed by a fellow with a German background. He seemed very capable. I had a good chat with the person. However, I was not hired.

A few days afterwards I saw another ad in the paper from Eastern College. This time they were looking for an economics and Canadian geography teacher. My minor was in economics. I applied again. This time, I was hired.

Eastern College was a visa school. The students are from abroad, intending to pursue their studies in Canadian universities. Most students were from Hong Kong, with a smattering from Malaysia, Mauritius and a few additional countries.

This was a private college, and the fees were high. Not the salaries, though. All students were from relatively well-to do families. The students were polite and well-behaved. I had no disciplinary problems. Their English, as one would expect, was somewhat weak. But they were eager to learn.

I walked into the first economics class without any prior teaching experience or teacher training. How typical of me. Jumping into a thing with minimal preparation or experience. I guess I was fairly confident.

It reminded me of an event that took place when I was four years old. We went to a swimming pool in Bratislava. I did not know how to swim, but I saw a wooden ladder in the pool, about four or five feet from the edge. I have no idea how the ladder got there and what it was doing there, or why people did not pull it out of the pool.

So, I made a plan. I was going to jump into the pool, grab that ladder, and hold on to it. Great idea. Except it didn’t work. The first part went OK. I mustered up enough courage and jumped in. Here’s where the fun started. I missed the ladder. I was about to sink when a swimmer pulled me to safety. I survived.

For my economics lesson, I prepared about a dozen and a half questions the night before. I thought answering them would take me through the class that was about one hour and ten minutes long.

I was wrong. I finished “covering” or answering the questions in about twenty-five minutes. Then I said, “Are there any questions?” There were none.

“So now what do I do?” I thought to myself. There were still about forty minutes remaining in the class. Then I had a brilliant idea. I’ll talk about the independent research paper. I could talk about this topic for hours. I didn’t have to. Time went by swiftly and the class was over. I was extra careful for the next class, to prepare additional material. It wasn’t difficult.

University of Toronto

I was happy when I was accepted into at the University of Toronto Graduate School, to study political science. I was immediately impressed by the professors there. They seemed very fluent and articulate, almost to a man and woman. Listening to their lectures, which were delivered without referring to notes, was like listening to a book.

I attended Alan Bloom’s graduate seminar. It was on Aristophanes and Xenophon’s Memorabilia about Socrates. Bloom was very funny. During the first meeting he was cracking jokes from the beginning to end. I head tears flowing down my cheeks from laughing. I was thinking to myself

“And this is a seminar about political theory?”

Of course, there was also a serious side to the lectures. There were about thirty-five people in the class from all over the world. There was even a student from Japan.

However, I developed misgivings about the enterprise and I wanted to study film. Therefore, during the following year I took a course with Josef Skvorecky, a Czech ex-patriate writer on film. We watched some classics and I wrote a paper on Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, which means to live.

Over the next academic year, I enrolled at Concordia University in Montreal in their Film Studies Program. I heard they had a well-recognized reputation. But the people at Concordia wanted me to do theory courses, and I wanted to get my hands on a camera. Since it was a no-go, I returned to Toronto and resumed the political science program. Moreover, as I developed money problems, I had to switch to part-time study.

In the third year of graduate school, I attended Clifford Orwin’s class. He was a Harvard Graduate. The seminar was about Thucydides. I managed an “A” on both papers. My doubts about whether I was doing the right thing, however, were not going away.

The fourth and last year I attended a seminar with Thomas Pangle. He just joined the University from Yale. The course was on Locke and Nietzsche. I managed an “A minus” on the paper on Locke. My theme was “the doctrine of the royal prerogative” from the Second Treatise on Government. After I finished these courses, I began to teach in a Matriculation Program at Eastern College. My first subjects were Canadian geography and economics.

University of Guelph

University life

I was accepted into the University of Guelph. I was happy. University proved to be so different than high school. So much better.

I enrolled in politics (major) and economics (minor). It was a four-year honours program. I also took some courses in logic, philosophy and history. I lived in residence, mostly. It was co-ed, except for Johnston Hall, which was all male. There was a good restaurant called Der Keller, where I had meals.

I was active in sports. We played soccer every Wednesday with grad students and faculty from the Veterinary and the Agriculture Departments, two departments that Guelph was most famous for. It was not famous for political science. However, I did get to meet John Kenneth Galbraith, who served in the Kennedy administration. Galbraith was an economist and author of many books.

My studies were not exactly gripping. However, I found two books in the bookstore that actually interested me. One was C.B. Macpherson’s Theories of Possessive Individualism. The other was Natural Right and History by Leo Strauss. Both books appealed to me because of the clarity of writing. I agreed with both authors, even though there appeared to be some differences.

I later met C.B. Macpherson at the University of Toronto’s Political Science Departments, where I audited a course with him. He was definitely a gentleman and a scholar. I never met Strauss in person; however, I did get to take a graduate course with his best known student, Allan Bloom, also at the University of Toronto. Both had reform in mind. However, while Macpherson leaned to the left, Strauss leaned to the right. I was in the middle. Which way would I go? I wished there was a way to combine the two points of view. Could we not both be concerned for impoverished people and aim for excellence at the simultaneously?

Work at a Printing Business

My first job was at a printing business. I used to drive a small vehicle to the dumpsite with rubbish from the printing business. It was not a hard job, however, minimum wage again.

I called my boss “Boss.” He did not look entirely comfortable with that. Years later, people at gas stations in Malaysia would call me “boss.” Strange. I guess it was meant in a friendly way.

I did not stay too long at this job and found another, this time at a gas station.

Work at a Gas Station

I was unaware that I was eligible for a Canada student loan. So, I took a couple of part time jobs. One was at a gas station on downtown Guelph. The pay was something like minimum wage. I remember that during midterm examination week, I worked thirty-nine hours, only one hour short of a full week. I mentioned in passing one time at the university to a lady about the pressure I felt under and she asked me:

“Why don’t you get a student loan?”

 “What do you mean?” I said.

“Well just go down to the student affairs office, ask for an application and fill it in. We are all here on student loans,” she said, pointing to a group of friends sitting with her.

“OK, thank, I think I’ll do that.

The next day I went to the student loan office and did what she suggested. My loan application was approved and a I got a grant and a loan. The money was enough to finance an entire academic year of study. I felt so relieved. I could quit my job at the gas station and concentrate full time on my studies.

I remember I had to go to a bank and borrow a small amount of money, a few hundred dollars to tie me over until the student loan came in. The bank manager was very helpful and arranged for the loan, even though it was only a small about. I was grateful.

John Fade

I met a number of interesting people at Guelph, and kind of became friend with some of them. There was the fellow by the name of John Fade. He was from the US. Apparently, he used to market stuff to people at the University. Remember, these were the seventies.

He offered me too, but I politely declined. He was an excellent chess player, and mild mannered. I later found out that, like a few other Americans on campus, he arrived to study to Canada so as to avoid having to fight in Vietnam.

One day he disappeared and I did not see him for a few weeks. Then suddenly he turned up again out of nowhere, so to speak.

“Hey John,” I said to him, “where have you been?”

“I had to scoot,” he replied. “The police were after me. Someone from the police station tipped me off that there was going to be a raid at the house where I was staying. I cleared out of the house in the morning, and the police came in the afternoon. They busted everyone else.”

They all obtained their stuff from him, and yet he got away and the small fish got busted.

“I was making about a thousand a week when this happened,” he said.

“So, you are going to be back in business, now?” I inquired.

“No, I think I’ll give it a rest for a little while,” he said. “I saved up enough to last me for a time.”