In February 2017, our group of friends began to look into the rental market. We had been informally surveying locations in various parts of Bangkok. But we were most interested in the area around Lad Phrao, as it is our home neighborhood and we are partial to its qualities. Initially, giving was not our intention. But we were looking to do something special with the money we had for investment.
That’s when we came across the Condo Srisuwan residential area, a complex of five buildings, five stories tall each, just set off the road with a parking lot in front. Giving a call to the number of an advertised condo, an older woman picked up the phone. She became one of the many Aunties that we have the pleasure of knowing here in Thailand – and her story is one worth sharing.
The Auntie (and Uncle) Story
Auntie is 60 years old now. She had been a government worker, and her husband was an engineer. Throughout their marriage they both worked, but never had children of their own. Of the early investments they made, the Auntie used 600 baht from her own salary to pay for the loan she took to purchase Condo Srisuwan. Over time, she and her husband increased their residential assets. They had continued to rent out the condo to people, but as the Auntie became older, she was not longer looking to care for the condo, which naturally involved managing the unreliable renters.
Giving to Auntie
We met her once to look at the condo and agreed to move forward with purchasing from her. Auntie told us that others had contacted her to purchase the condo, but they tried to lower the price. She didn’t want to lower it, so she did not sell to them.
“Keep it simple,” she had said.
We decided that we could help her. In our conversations, we discussed what it would be like if we were her. She was older already, and was hoping to reduce her burdens.
What would we want if we were in her shoes?
As women, we all nodded and agreed: we would buy it from her, at her stated price. This is how the basis of the decision to buy turned away from focus on the condominium itself. We were convinced of the story of Auntie, and it became a chance to help her.
A habit: give meets give
To start, we gave a deposit of 5,000 baht.
Shortly after we sent her the deposit money, she called us to tell us of her intentions for the money from the condo sale. She said that on the day the Condo was purchased, she would give 10,000 baht of the money to Siriraj Hospital (the location of Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine in Bangkok) . Quite impressed and happy with her intentions, we joined her in her donations, and gave her 2000 baht to give to Siriraj Hospital for us.
After a week, we had processed the paperwork and gave the remaining money to the Auntie for the condo. Not long, Auntie called us again to inform us that she she did not just give 10,000, but she gave the remaining balance of her earnings from the condo to Siriraj Hospital.
Auntie explained that she and her husband were retired with no children, and they already had other real estate investments. This gave them more than they needed. In fact, giving to the hospital was something they had done for many years now. Whatever was extra, they would give it. They had given so frequently that the Auntie’s name is in a placard posted on hospital donations wall.
The special thing about this older couple is that their giving is a habit. Auntie and her husband have not just been giving to Siriraj Hospital, but they give elsewhere as well. She told us of how they send money to children in need – they have separate relationships with six children, and support them with monthly allowances.
They give until it is second nature for them – it is easy for them.
Give first and you will get.
In addition, Auntie and her husband have never had difficulty financially. They enjoy traveling abroad when they can, and have been to Europe and United States. The husband was an engineer for the motorway that was constructed from Bangkok to Pattaya, and now they could live easily on his retirement alone. They also keep an orchard for fruit in eastern Thailand. They give what they can and are happy for the opportunity. Their habit seems to leave them with a comfortable life, their generosity returning to them consistently.
We can each practice to give – give what we can. We gave the Auntie and her husband ease of mind – to be able to sell the condo at their stated price. In turn, they used the money for public benefit. Instead of seeing the purchase of this condo as an exchange, we had thought from the beginning to give. From here, more opportunities to give arose.
An important lesson we learned from this story is that our intention is the foundation of everything. Whether we think to give or think to take, this comes from within our own mind. We can consider this before every transaction. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a transaction any more, but an opportunity to practice thinking of others and giving to others in a world where most of us give mostly to ourselves.