Friday, August 29, 2008

What happens in Saigon...

Saigon is a mysterious place of intrigue. The ex-pat community is full of characters and I already know that the relationship between Vietnamese and foreigners is filled with book-quality material.

Alice-the drama teacher and international beauty- and I have decided to become detectives on these issues and we are gathering information from many sources. I will refer to her here as Audrey Hepburn because she is sophistication epitomized. Every day she comes dressed in flowing dresses and scarves and high heels with make-up and jewelry to match. Remember, she is the one who has been involved in experimental theater in New York City for ten years. She calls me "Hunny Bunny." She's Audrey Hepburn, down-to-earth, and fun.

Last night we have a "mandatory" dinner to attend and the event offers many pieces to our growing puzzle...the mysterious "M's" - a couple who has invested heavily in the school, are sponsoring the evening. The restaurant is huge-- it has eight food stations: a raw food bar for outside barbecue, a hand cut noodle bar, a snail bar...etc. Enormous restaurant. All of us, old teachers and new, office staff and administration, sit in long rows with hot pots on tables and clowns up front wrapping kids in toilet paper to circus music. Seeing everyone together is amazing, we're all dressed up and happy to be a part of it all, anticipating the year, eating at the stations for hours. But it's strange- The M's never show. They pay for all of it and we don't get to meet them.

Ater dinner a few returning teachers take us to a bar in District One that is popular with ex-pats. A Filipino guy named Jerome plays guitar and sings for three hours; he's fantastic. At one point, Alice cannot control herself and gets up in all of her drama glory and begins a middle eastern dance to his acoustic version of Nirvana's "Come as You Are." Every single eye (especially the men's eyes) are on her. If Rita had been there, she would have had to join Alice on the floor; and that is what happens. A "Rita" of Indian descent, also beautiful, enters the dance and the two of them create a the most exotic spontaneous show together. The crowded bar is speechless. When the song is over, I see them laughing and talking, then Alice comes over to us. "You won't believe this! (Her accent is a mix of French and British and Thai and Spanish- she speaks all of them fluently), "Charmaine is the drama teacher at the British School!" So that is how the only two international drama teachers in Saigon, a city of nine million people, came to be friends and exchange cell phone numbers.

As for the gossip and intrigue, well, for now it will stay in Saigon. But just know that I am working on it. I will leave you with a picture of Cynthia, many readers' favorite, and will tell you some of the names she has on her first grade roster: Rufus, Spiderman, Simba and Little Bean. Yes, you read that right! "I just can't wait for them to come!" she tells me last night.

4 comments:

Ann Marie said...

Hi, Marjie! Just caught up on ALL of your entries to date. And reading about the names reminded me of an anecdote from my summer. I was staying with my friend Severine in Paris and she was telling me about her Chinese colleagues in Shanghai with "American" names they use for business. Her favorites were Marvin, Babboy (as in "Bad Boy") and...wait for it...Smell. Smell is a beautiful young woman who says she chose her name because she likes flowers. Looking forward to your next post!

Dad said...

Thanks for your blog, Marjie. Guess I'm hooked - reading it is even better than having our roof completed.

The Norris Clan said...

What an exciting group of characters!! Do any of them read your blog? I want to comment badly, but don't know if they are readers... :-) I already love Audrey. She sounds like my kind of gal. Can I come to the next dance/singing party? Please?! And the mysterious M's. Come on! This is SO good... It's like the Fall TV shows have started on Marjie's blog, and I can't wait to tune in and see what's next!

marjie said...

Hey Ann Marie- yes, I had some equivalents of "Smell" too.. but I really laughed over the brother and sister named "Sonny and Cher" in one of my classes. Tarn had a student in China last year- on her way to college, named "Sky Vegetable." She insisted on keeping it.