Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shades of Persian Blue Conflict

This morning I am planning to head through the market and out to meet Nam when Sweet Seamstress sees me and gives me a dress that I ordered a few weeks ago and that she had just fitted for me on Sunday (usually a perfect fit is only achieved after at least one alteration session). I have the time, so I go back to the castle and climb the four flights of stairs and put it on: it's gorgeous...according to Wikipedia's Shade of Blue, it's a Persian Blue (which is so perfect, with me teaching Ancient and all...next I am going for Phoenician purple):

and this time it fits perfectly. (When I double check this perfection with Katherine, she says, did you ever use to accomplish this much in the mornings at home?) I decide I must wear it to school. Because I bought the material from Nam's sister, I go by her house. His other sister is out selling eggs (the one was making fishcake sandwiches the other day) and the fabric sister is in her shop. They recognize the material right away and they both come out and fawn over how pretty it is. The whole alley is appreciating my dress.

When Nam drops me off after school and we pass his sister's house, I point to my dress and tell him I bought the material from her. Of course, my mother already knows this. And I also learn that he knows two more words in the English language, because when I get off of his bike, he points to my dress and then back to the shop and says, "Buy more!"

At the risk of sounding completely insane with this tailoring business, I had a different shirt to show off to a different person in the neighborhood yesterday. Thuy (pronounced "Twey"-- not "Twee"--I am told by Tarn that "Twee" means a very bad odor and that I was calling Thuy a very bad odor at our Sunday cooking class) helped me pick out a lovely light torquoise color last week (she said it would bring out the red in my hair) and I had Katherine's sister's tailor at the center market (Ben Than) make the shirt because she is so quick. Sweet Seamstress does a really nice job, but she is really slow and I don't want to burden her too much, since she works all day, every day.

So I have a bit of a conflict of interests, don't I? Thuy and SS are like sisters; Thuy will tell her I had a shirt made by someone else. And Thuy will know that I bought material from Nam's sister...their shops are only one alley block away from each other. Loyalties run deep around here, and suddenly, I have deep loyalties with two parties. It all used to be so simple two months ago. The only answer I can think of is to have TONS of clothes made, using ALL of the fabric women, Sweet Seamstress and other, discreet tailors (and I will have to hire another driver to drive me to them, for sure). Do you see any other way out of this? As usual, I would appreciate advice. Band members? Maybe the fabric women don't really care--I have no idea if they do or not-- but I know another woman who does and he drives me to and from school everyday.

On the way home today, after an errand in District One, Mother Nam stops and tells me to get off and take a picture of this statue:

It's "Bac Ho"- "Bac" must mean "Uncle." Ho Chi Minh. The people sure love him.

Behind it is the famous post office of District One, in the French -influenced area.

When we get home, I decide that I'm ready for clams in my life again. The place that T, K and I went a few weeks ago is a five minute walk from here, but I haven't been back since the snake-though-the-nose-and-out-the-mouth trick. I just haven't been able to get the association of the two events out of my mind even though I didn't even see it.
But I'm over it now and ready to move into a much heavier Vietnamese Shellfish Phase. On my way to Seafood Restaurant Street, I find a lady with a cart-O-clams. Sometimes the vendors on the street are offering clams that have already opened and I stay way clear of those, but hers are clean and closed and she's got some cooking in lemongrass broth. I buy some to go and return to the castle to eat my after-school treat.

As I sit in the castle in my Persian blue dress eating lemongrass clams after teaching Ancient History to 6th graders, I realize that I feel pretty good. Pretty, Pretty Good, as Larry David might say.


kumma said...

My advice would be to use your Black Market connections to do business in getting your dresses made from all the different tailors/seamstresses/fabric coordinators. Have your Black Market contact purchase the dresses for you, and it would probably be best if your Black Market contact was the exact same size as you so they could get the dresses tailor-fit, then find a dark alley where there are no other tailors/seamstresses/fabric coordinators and purchase the dresses from the Black Market, tailor-made for you. Of course, you'd better wear a disguise when completing the transaction - perhaps a red shirt and blue helmet.

AmyT said...


assume they ALL think you are a rich American, throwing money around like chicken feed. Go with plan A and order tons of clothes, shoring up the local economy (Marj won't get that reference, but if I hear "shore up" ONE more time...!) so much so that all the fabric folk and tailor talkers can roll in the Dong together, and sip fancy glasses of King Cobra wine, while chuckling at their good fortune at knowing Maggie, the Rich AmeriKahn.

Brian Bowker said...

Maybe if you start a bidding war you can get those custom tailored, hand-made dresses down from $15 to something more reasonable like $5 or $6 each.

Angie said...

Such problems to have, Marj. WHICH seamstress...WHICH shop should you buy from...HOW are you ever going to please Mother Nam...and WHAT are you going to eat next???

marjie said...

You all are SOOOOO helpful. Sbill, hmmmmm, I am speechless. Good thinkin'.

The Norris Clan said...

Or maybe you should REALLY wow them by buying a sewing machine and see if they will teach you that too! If nothing else, you will get to hear them yell "MAGGIE, NOOOO!!" again...