PHUKET TOWN: The Thai for the number nine sounds like the Thai for “to advance” or “make progress”. So today – 9/9/99 – was a special day in Thailand, and very much so in Phuket. At hospitals babies were induced, or even delivered by Caesarian section, so that they would enter the world on this auspicious date. The director of the Bangkok Phuket Hospital, Dr Surapong Lookhanumanjao, said, “Normally we average two or three deliveries a day, but today we had seven, all but one of them by C-section.” That was in the morning. Anticipating the extra demand, the hospital had three obstetricians standing by. A hospital spokesperson said that five of the six operations delivered babies to Thai couples, one to a Thai-farang couple, and one to a farang couple. The farang couple were too shy to talk to the Gazette, but Chantip Oswald, 37, who is married to a Swiss national, told a reporter as she waited for her operation, “Today is a good day for the baby to be born. I just came to the hospital at 10 am, and they will start operating at 1:09 pm.” Her husband of five years, 39-year-old Juergen, said, “The 9th of September 1999 comes only one time in 1,000 years. We did not actually plan to have the baby born today, but we are very happy and very proud that we can make the date.” Meanwhile, car sellers also did a roaring trade. At the Honda showroom in Phuket Town, salesman Tawatchai Vechpasit said the company, which normally sells two or three cars a week, sold seven before lunch today. Customers, he added, were also picking appropriate times to drive their new cars out of the showroom – at 9:09 am, for example. At the Toyota showroom it was the same story. Saleswoman Suparat Petchkong told the Gazette that nine cars had been driven off the lot by midday.
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