Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Little View of the Hood

Tonight Nam stops by his house…right next to the Bum Bum Salon (Katherine and my new favorite neighborhood establishment – we both went back for $35,000 dong massages and they were equal to the $180,000 dong ones by the hotel) to introduce me to his sister, his mother, his nephew (who is able to translate a little bit of English) and his sister’s granddaughter.
His mother keeps asking me questions (so this is where he gets it), pointing to her ancestor shrine and crossing herself. The nephew translates a few things, like: She has ten children. Nam is number five. The other eight are scattered all over the city. She wants to know how many foreigners live in the house and where we are from. Are any of us married? We must seem so so so strange to them. It's nice to meet his family (I think his kids are grown, cynical ESL Amy) and I think it's pretty cool now that if I need a ride, I can just walk down to his house to see if he's available. Evidently, he didn't show last night at the carnival because he lost his cell phone. I'm not sure how those two things relate, but I feel badly for him, he seems so completely bummed about it.

I am taking the above picture from a stand across the street where I am eating chicken and rice. This stand holds a huge flat wok with a bunch of ingredients in bowls...the closest thing I've seen to Stir Fry Street in Shaoxing, China, but it's nothing amazing like it always was there. The alleyway you see from the street-- if you look behind the big blue sign, you will see the small sign that says "Bum Bum." Nam lives right across from there. If you take a right at the Bum Bum, you walk just three blocks down the alley to our house. The second picture is of that view. Our house is at the end of the alley, right near the gold colored house. Oh, and the stand to the right of the alley entrance in the picture is one of about ten on the street serving Pho Ha (the noodle soup) and to the left of the entrance is one of many fruit juice places. Everyone sits at the low plastic chairs. All day long. Noodles, noodles, noodles.
And here is our cake lady. She is on the street so infrequently that she is worth text messaging about. Tarn loves her the most, and she is here tonight, so I will write him a message as soon as I'm done with all of you. I've been reluctant to take pictures in my neighborhood, but oh well, here she is... And one of my favorite treats at her stand reminds me of that green Slime we used to love as kids. It's jello-like with a custardy filling. Here is a terrible picture of it:

This morning as I walk through the market, I decide to try something new for breakfast. There is a woman who makes all kinds of sweet rice-- red, red with beans, white with a bunch of stuff I don't recognize--

so I order the red. She puts it in a plastic bag, pours cream on top, and just like everything else here, it is rubber banded so tightly that I will fight for hours to get it off when I arrive at school. It's delicious.

I'm off to see a concert tonight at the Conservatory in District's called "Impulse: Crackling Bamboo" and it's an international percussion festival. You will get the review tomorrow...


AmyT said...

"Impulse: Crackling Bamboo" Is Rita Ireland reading along? This deserves a poem in a minute!

Please explain the concert: Phillip Glass meets chopsticks?

Annette said...

You are absolutely amazing. I was home sick yesterday and got to catch up on the latest Marjie adventure. When I grow up, I want to be you.

Brian Bowker said...

How cool to see pictures of your neighborhood! Thanks for taking the risk and then posting them!

I'm jealous that you get to have jello-ish custard stuff. You know how much I love jello-ish custard stuff!