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All I need is love and a cup of coffee

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I came for Bua, but I stayed for Khunkhao.

Who is Khunkhao, pray tell? The pra’ek pictured above. Simply put, I love the way he looks at the nang’ek, as if she is the prettiest girl he has seen, as if she baffles him but at times surprises him with her perception. I call this a budding romance. This daily lakorn, Om Fah Ohb Din, does so many things well, it is poignant and often funny, but more importantly, it gives us a much-needed Thai gentleman, and a romance show worth pursuing. It is what I have been missing in lakorns these days.

Even his name, Khunkhao, which means great mountain, is dreamy. Khunkhao leads a small, but meaningful life. He runs an organic coffee farm in Bonroi (Chiang Mai province), where he prides himself in cultivating tasty beans that is good for the body and environment. He helps raise his six-year-old nephew, Tawan, while Tawan’s dad, Police Captain Phasut works. Khunkhao is not a nosy person, but he is aware that his brother-in-law chose his younger sister over wealth in the big city, so Khunkhao accepts him, disregarding the man’s past and family. Phasut even mentions that if anything were to happen to him, he would like Khunkhao to continue raising Tawan because Phasut wants his son to grow up in nature and have a soft and kind demeanor like Khunkhao.

That day happens much too soon, Phasut and wife meet their demise in a car accident, leaving their families reeling from the aftermath. I like the way Show handles the loss. They address the questions of those that are left behind in a very thoughtful way. Questions like, how do you tell a six-year-old about his deceased parents? How do you treat a father who has cut his son out of his life and fortune? How does a sister pick up the pieces and try to make things right? How will two people from very different backgrounds (worlds apart even), stand on the same playing field? First and foremost, you show them what matters to them the most, the livelihood of a young boy, and the pain they both share. But amidst the tragic, the show gives us an uplifting vibe: while two lives are lost, new relationships and bonds are formed.

I can see why Phasut trusts Khunkhao to raise his son, the man is warm, logical and treats his nephew like a human being. Often times grownups do not believe a child could withstand or cope with tragedy, but Khunkhao believes Tawan could handle truth. Khunkhao knows when to comfort a child and when to be transparent. While a simple comment that the child’s parents went to heaven or traveled abroad (we have 5G these days) can be used in cases like this, Khunkhao opted for the kind truth. I like the way he put it, he first brought up an example that Tawan could understand, such as a pet/animal that passed away. “Do you understand what it means when something dies?” he asks Tawan, who says “It means they will never come back.” It is a dark, but starry night. “Tawan, your parents are dead, and they will not come back. When you miss them, hold on to me.” As Khunkhao comforts his nephew, Tawan asks, “But will you die too?” “Naturally, one day I will, but not right now. I promise to be by your side.”

Khunkhao is good on his words, because when asked what he plans to do about Tawan, Khunkhao says he will raise Tawan as his own. Mind you, this all comes at a time when Khunkhao had already reached out to Phasut’s side of the family and was met with annoyance. What he did not know is that the person he talked to over the phone is not Thofah, Phasut’s sister, but the “evil” stepmom. Phasut’s father had collapsed from the news and incurred head injury, while Thofah collapsed from exhaustion. Khunkhao believed that Phasut’s family would not show up to his funeral.

He would be partly correct. Thofah did not make it to the final event of her brother’s cremation. By the time she found her way to Chiang Mai, she was already too late. Thofah has missed her own brother in so many occasions, missed the opportunity to see him after studying abroad for many years, missed the opportunity to meet her sister-in-law because she had been responsible in managing the family’s Mall business, and now missed the opportunity to say her final goodbyes. So many missed chances, so many regrets for Thofah. But she grabs on to one last chance to make things right: Tawan. Thofah promises dad that she would bring Tawan to live with them. But just like everything in life, easier said than done! She’s gotta go through Uncle Khun and the villagers first.

This is where the fun (funny) begins. They first meet the night of the cremation, when Thofah walks aimlessly around Chiang Mai. She peers over a bridge overlooking a pond and had taken her high heels off. Khunkhao drives by the scene and thinks she is going to jump off the bridge, little did he know that she was merely trying to save her very expensive shoe. Khunkhao later realizes this, but still opted to help her (because he too understands the value of money, the cost of that shoe could support his village for days!) so the two hangs on each other’s hands, over the pond, when they inevitably fall in. He saves her life by giving mouth to mouth and they go on a cute walk to the village shops to buy new clothes. I live for their mundane, daily interactions. The way he glances at her or laugh over her shenanigans, he too does not realize how much she makes him smile. Well until he finds out that she is Phasut’s younger sister whom he believed wants nothing to do with her brother.

Thofah is determined to prove him wrong, but not in the most transparent way. She wants her nephew to go to the city with her, but as Tawan has already claimed, she is just a stranger. There is nothing like the brutal honesty from a kid that cuts your self-esteem down a notch. Thofah has her work cut out for her. With the excuse of evaluating Khunkhao’s coffee farm so that she could buy the beans, Thofah is set out to stay in the village, bond with Tawan and show Khunkhao that she could be responsible for Tawan. Meanwhile Khunkhao has been faced with a sketchy distributor who undercuts him on the coffee beans, so Thofah’s proposal would benefit the whole village.

I have seen five episodes so far, and I love the daily moments of Thofah adapting to a new environment and learning more about her brother through the eyes of the villagers. This show strikes a nice balance between being light but poignant, charming but relaxing. Bua and Puen Khanin have a natural chemistry with each other, the way he looks at her is everything. If we were to compare it to coffee, it is a well rounded flavor lacking any harshness or acidity. A nice cup of Khunkhao as we head into the summer.

Om Fah Orb Din airs daily on Channel 3, produced by Good Day Series.
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