They say you cannot choose where you are born but you can choose where you die. George Diaz Evashuk passed away in his beloved adopted city and country where he retired–Chiang Mai, Thailand. I assume he was surrounded by his adopted Thai brother Rak and his adopted granddaughter Na May in a hospital. I knew things were grim when Na May texted me that earlier today the Makran Hospital had to give George oxygen as he was “feeling unwell”. I got a missed phone call from her and feared the worst. Then a text message saying he had passed at 4 pm.
George (Brian and I called him “Mum”) was born and bred in Canada’s cold capital otherwise known as Winnipeg. His father was a Russian émigré who had come to Canada, then volunteered for the Papineau-Mackenzie Brigade who had fought against Franco’s Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. George had very little good to say about his Dad and even less about his brothers whom he loathed.
He eventually got the urge to hit the road and with an interest in photography, traipsed off to Toronto to study it officially at Ryerson Polytechnical. He attained a 3-year diploma and then got into the studio end of photography at a number of well-respected studios in Toronto. Among his many talents and apart from a superb studio photographer, he was a porn writer, newspaper reporter and photographer.
At some point, the worst thing that could happen to a photographer ended his career–he lost the use of one eye.
He was married four times: divorced just as many. He converted to Judaism to marry a Jewish gal, converted to Islam when he was in Sharjah, and probably ended up an atheist or a Buddhist.
He soon picked up another passion and that was teaching. His ESL career took him to exotic places like China, Vietnam, Thailand and UAE. It was in UAE that my friend Brian Rose and myself ran into this character whom we soon called “Mum”. He joined us in Ras Al Khaimah and because I too had graduated from Ryerson photo-Arts program a few years later–we struck up a friendship that has lasted for 20 years.
While in UAE, Brian, George and I had excellent adventures to Dubai, a millennial desert debacle, Istanbul and famously to Iran. It didn’t matter where we were there was always something hilarious that we would get ourselves into and no end of adventures.
George’s real love was going to Thailand and anytime we got a short vacation or summer vacation in UAE–you could find George heading to Thailand to see his new found friend, a hill tribe guide turned farmer–Rak. Apart from Brian and I, in Rak he had found the brother he never had. Two of Rak’s daughters became George’s adopted grandchildren: Na May and Piya.
I used to call my dad every Friday, but he has passed over a year ago, now I shall miss my long Skype calls with George, often 3-4 times a week. We would gab about critiques of movies, cursing Microsoft and the disappointment in laptops, slagging digital photography, and offering advice on getting my Canada pension (still waiting).
A lover of a good cappuccino, wore his heart on his sleeve, enjoyed smoking pot, reading Joseph Campbell’s books, offering help on book edits, loved his Thai granddaughters and Thai brother Rak, and always quoting from his favourite Bible, Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style “delete needless words”, so I better stop now before he gets mad at me, again!
R.I.P “Mum” (1942-2018)