Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nam


Map work: I live in the southwestern part of District One, the orange section) almost in District 5 (in pink)...Electric Avenue (in Chinatown) is in District 5. The high school is in District 10 (yellow), right near the green park...kind of in the middle. The green park is the carnival area where my gym is (and where I keep getting lost and disappointing Nam).


Written yesterday, when I could not connect to the internet:

Red Shirt Blue Helmet has a name. It's Nam. I'm glad I know his name now because he wears a different shirt this morning, it's red and yellow. When he picks me up after school, I try to tell him that I want him to take me to the tailor across town in the north part of District One, the one I went to with Alice, to pick up my dresses. I have a card with the address on it, and am making it as clear as possible. He doesn't understand.

Then one of my students, Alex, who actually reminds me very much of my nephew Devon (therefore making him one of my favorites), pulls up on the back of a motorbike with his mom. He wants to introduce us. After talking with her, I take the opportunity to ask Alex to translate between me and RSBH about the destination. He does this, then I find out Nam's name(by the way, I plan to start learning Vietnamese basics soon if only to communicate with my driver) and Nam then asks him to translate something for me. He says to Alex "Tell her I don't understand a word she says." That's what Chatty Kathy wants me to know. He doesn't understand when I draw an arch and write 6:30 and point to the arch two blocks away as clear as anything, but he can chat and chat away at me no problem. The other thing he wants me to know...if he's not there right away, he wants me to wait for him...he will be there shortly.

He takes me to the tailor through horrendous traffic and he goes up on the sidewalk a few times. But he always seems to be in control, nice and steady, so I don't really mind. I want to get through the traffic, too. When he does some impressive manouevers, I say, "Nice job" and by his smile I think he does understand at least a little. When we drive back through the part of District One that is the "Paris of Vietnam," he points at all of the attractions and wants to know, have I seen them? Have I walked around the Reunification Palace? Have I seen Notre Dame? When I nod yes, he seems pleased. He waits for me to get a fitting with my dresses, then takes me home. We are past the bargaining phase; I just ask him what I owe him and he gives me a fair price.

By the way, the dresses are beautiful. Maybe you'll get to see them someday.

Written today:
When I walk to the street today, Nam is waiting with his wife. I could be wrong, but I think she is there only to meet me. We shake hands and she is lovely; it's pretty cool. I can only speculate, but perhaps landing a steady customer--maybe especially a foreigner-- is a big deal. Today Nam is supposed to pick me up at the arch at 6 after the gym. When I come out, I think I know a short cut through the carnival, but as is often the case with my sense of direction, I am completely off. I get so lost, and the motorbikes and lights and buildings that all look the same confuse me. I get to the arch at 6:15, wondering if Nam has been patient. He's not there. I'm a little relieved because I forgot to bring long pants to cover my shorts, but I'm also anticipating a scolding tomorrow. I have to hire someone else to take me home, and I feel insecure the whole way. I hope Nam will forgive me!

7 comments:

kumma said...

Not only a steady customer - and a foreigner - but, MARJIE FRICKIN' BOWKER, dude! He has NO idea how lucky he is... He should not only be bringing his wife, but his whole family, his whole neighborhood, to meet you...

kumma said...

But, wait... is it RSBH or BSRH? Now I'm even more confused. Is his wardrobe full of red shirts or blue shirts (along with one red and yellow shirt for special days)?

Brian Bowker said...

I agree with Kumma; RSBH does not realize that he's not only got a regular customer, but that he's also famous all over the world!

amyt said...

See, when I read the "met the wife" part, I began to wonder when he will suddenly bring his children over for free English lessons. I'm an ESL cynic. Sorry.

Given the leg-lamp situation, I'm going to have to picture you in some sort of Lady Di type dress until you post pictures. I think I'll envision the single strap silver number...

Brian Bowker said...

This one?

Angie said...

Brian, You are so funny!

Marjie, you better post pics of yourself in your dresses to get the image of you in a single strap silver gown out of my head.

I hope Nam is still there for you!

The Norris Clan said...

Nam in 'Nam, huh. How about that :-) If I bought at motorbike, could I be your driver? I do like sidewalks, though... but only after a few Coronas. So it's a date, then? You can meet my husband! Oh wait... been there, done that. Oh well... To Motorbikes! (insert clicking sound of corona bottles)