A Life Well Lived (David Glickman)
From practicing the law to appraising gemstones and scuba diving in some of the most remote spots on the planet, David Glickman has led a rich and varied existence in his seven decades on planet Earth.
The native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attended Hastings Law School in San Francisco, which is part of the University of California. After graduation, he opened his own general practice in San Francisco, and worked there from 1955-65. "I would contact established law firms and take their cats and dogs," he says. "There was one family firm of very devout Catholics who wouldn't handle divorces, so they would refer them to me. I had worked for a federal judge for a year and I knew the federal system, which most lawyers do not learn unless they have some reason to, so I received referrals from lawyers who didn't want to bother learning the ins and outs of federal law."
But why did he choose to come to Thailand? "A client of mine hired me to come here. He was in the minerals field and he was being offered some tin mining deals. He wanted to make sure that people had the legal rights to mineral properties, and he wanted to know what Thai law was regarding prospecting, and mining solid minerals.
"So I got a paid a visit to Thailand, and was charmed. Even Bangkok was a charming city back in 1965 as it didn't have the heavy traffic or air pollution it does now. When I went back to San Francisco, I hadn't thought of coming to live in Thailand but my client had decided to go ahead with one of the deals and since I was so attracted to Thailand, he asked if I would help him for a while.
"One man had a sapphire property about 200 miles north of Bangkok, so we made a deal with him and got into the sapphire business. That's when I started learning about gemstones."
His thoughts on Thais? "I really feel that Thai people are nicer than other people. That was one of the first things that struck me when I first came to Thailand, and I still feel that way more than thirty years later. They are very hospitable. If you are near any of them while they are eating, they will always offer you their food. I have visited a few other countries in the region, and I have found resentment towards Westerners, but the Thais never seem to feel that. I think it really does make a difference that Thailand was never colonized.
Many foreigners have questions about the credibility of gem dealers in Thailand but Glickman says it is well known in the gem & jewelry community as to who is reliable and who's not. "In Thailand, we have a strong Gem & Jewelry Traders Association, and I would say that ninety-nine percent of our members are honorable people. They are very upset by the criminals that take advantage of tourists," he says.
David owns ninety-nine percent of the shares in his firm, Lambert Holding, Co. Ltd. He has been doing business at 807 Silom Road for eighteen years now. He is married to Payome (a Thai wildflower) and has a stepson, Khun Noom, who is an accredited gemologist and who helps David with the business of running Lambert.
His office location provides him with good daylight. At the producers level of the jewelry business Glickman says Lambert can only look at stones in natural light. "When we are out of daylight, we are out of business." He does his paperwork at home, after dark.
Does David immediately know if a stone is legitimate? "No one can just look at a stone and tell if it is genuine or not," he says. "Someone like myself, who has been handling gems for years, will have a strong feeling about whether a stone is legitimate or not. But the first thing you learn at the schools for gemology is to never sight identify. You must use the instruments, as one stone can easily mimic another and fool the human eye. So I don't rely upon sight identification. We are also just a block away from one of the best gem labs in the world, the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences."
Commenting on the rash of gem scams that are prevalent in Thailand, David says, "Well, you know the old saying, `If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't.' Foreigners traveling here can be suffering from jet-lag, and culture shock. They have language difficulties and the touts are very shrewd. They go out of their way to be charming, and they are usually very good in English, or the language of the person they are trying to take advantage of. They will tell a few lies to build up their status e.g. say that they are teachers, or off-duty policemen. But they are con men, they
gain people's confidence first, then they deceive them.
"Usually the tourist police can get back a lot of the money that has been taken from tourists in a gem scam, but the problem is that usually people are not here long enough to follow up on recovering their loss. By the time they find they have been scammed, they are usually set to leave for their next destination, or return home."
Glickman is one of five farang lawyers who have lifetime licenses to give legal advice in Thailand. The others are David Lyman of Tilleke & Gibbins, Harvey Price of Price Sanond & Associates, Harold Vickery of Vickery & Worachai, and Al Chandler of Chandler & Tongek. David can appear in court, but not as the lawyer for the litigant. He's a solicitor, not a barrister.
Surprisingly David says that Thai judges are very honorable. "It is almost unheard of for a judge to take a bribe in Thailand," he says. "The Thais are quite proud of their judges."
Although David is now over seventy years old, he is a very active scuba diver. He learned to dive in Hawaii in 1965, and was then so keen on diving that he started a company with a few friends to do commercial work underwater, and he did a lot of diving for that company. To date, he has made more than 3,000 dives including dives in many remote places. He and some regular diving partners were the first to dive at many of Thailand's most cherished diving spots e.g. Koh Phi Phi, the Similan Islands, Surin and the Burma Banks.
He has also been fortunate to spend some time diving for sunken treasure, as well as diving for sunken ships and aircraft from WWII in places like Truk Lagoon, Papua New Guinea and Palau.
To David, scuba diving is beyond being in another world. "
It is like being in another realm of existence. A diver is weightless, like an astronaut, and in fact, every astronaut from every country must learn to scuba dive because the effect is so much like being in outer space."
David also enjoys diving because it is a non-competitive sport and divers are trained to look after each other and to help each other whenever it is necessary. He loves diving so much that even after 3,000 dives, he's still looking forward to his next dive in the Andaman Islands with much anticipation. (Ed note: A life well lived? I don't know, I have a feeling that he's just getting started.)
Lambert Holding, Co., Ltd.
807 Silom Rd
Tel: (662) 236-4343, 236-4349
Fax: (662) 236-4810
Ed Note: Sadly, David Glickman passed away on July 15th 2011 after a long illness.
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Last Updated (Thursday, 11 August 2011 07:39)