Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My New Calendar

Today Nam takes me all the way out to the hospital for a follow-up appointment. It's a long way out and he should probably charge me at least 40,000 each way. But when we return, he tells me I owe him only 50,000 total. We are stopped at his aunt's house and his nephew is coming out. His nephew tells me that Nam only wants to know that my back is better. He has just given me a kindness discount. He is a kind man.

Nam then tells me to wait and after a minute he emerges from the house with a huge brown paper bag and pulls out a calendar that is about, oh, two feet long and one foot wide. It's huge. He is very excited to show it to me.

His nephew explains the calendar, and I'm sure that I did not understand a word, but here you go: Nam's friend went in on a partnership with someone to create the calendar. It has something to do with Nam's daughter's wedding shop and his friend who is a photographer or his friend who is a businessman, or perhaps it is his friend's son in EVERY SINGLE photo with the beautiful girl.

Is he giving me the calendar? Does he want me to buy one? His nephew asks "do you want?" It is An Awkward Moment. What can I do other than ask how much? It seems that Nam doesn't know, but he will check with his friend about the price. So then I figure that he just wanted to show me this really cool collaborative project and that we will be heading back to the castle, but no, Nam gives me the calendar. It's mine to keep. Every day for the next year, beginning January 1st, I can look at this couple in all of their finery while keeping track of my life.

I don't know. Tarn is certain that I have just scheduled myself for a wedding photo shoot. If he prices it out for me, should I do it? Which month do you like the best...January, May, August?

Another Nam story: this morning, he intercepts me before I begin my market crawl. I really hate it when he does that because then I am denied all of my daily treats: my pomelo, my rice pudding, my deep fried taro root spring rolls, my coconut "pies" and my rice noodles with stir-fried beef. Anyway, he finds me at the very beginning of my morning journey at my banana-rice- cake-with-tapioca-sauce stand. He pokes me and begins to chuckle at my breakfast. His bike is right over at his aunt's house, he says, so I grudgingly follow him over there. He chuckles all the way, and he keeps pointing at my little treat.

"What?" I say. "What are you laughing at? I love these!"

But he just keeps laughing and shaking his head. When we get to school, I don't see any of "my" kids around, so I call an anonymous boy over to ask him, "What was so funny about my breakfast?"

This takes a while to translate. Finally, "He's laughing because you know all the best food. Those are his favorite cakes, too," he tells me.

Often I think about these people in my life here, and how I will never really know what their lives are like or what they've experienced - past sorrows, happinesses, etc... but one thing I do know: Food is equally important to me and my xe-om driver. Food and music, the international languages, right?

OK, now, what about those photos? Which dress is my color?


Anonymous said...

No, before we get to color, let's look closely at the chest adornments and what exactly you want to emphasize.

Yes, you have a food angel. Remember the beat cop in NY who saw that food searching look in your eyes?

Anonymous said...

Oops, nessy was my word verification. I was so taken with it, I accidentally used it for my "name." It's really only me dressed up to look like the Lock Ness Monster.

Deanna said...

OMG, that calendar is priceless. We're recently back from a mere 2-1/2 weeks in VN and I'm missing it already, so I'm glad to find your blog. I'm a fabric artist and I tried to find fabric - succeeded somewhat with silks, but would have liked to find some of the heavier woven bright cottons. Oh well, perhaps next time. Loved at all the fabric booths upstairs at the market in Hanoi, and I know what you mean by nesting in all that fabric. How do they do it when it's so hot?

Marjie said...

I would like "Nessy" to stick around, too. Her comments are a little more bold than "AmyT's"

Hello,, after my amateur attempts at buying fabric and having clothes made, I would welcome your expertise! Are you coming back this way?

kumma said...

"MUNGO" is my word verification... I would like to use that as my name now, please.

I think the second picture, the orange-ish dress, is my pick for the smarj-ster.

Love always,

Brian Bowker said...

At first I wasn't sure, but now that I've noticed that the black number with the carnation adorned chest piece also has a bare midriff - That is my choice for sure!

You can never go wrong with a tasteful black dress; very practical.

Also though, I'm a little jealous. Up until I saw this calendar I though my Spam(TM) calendar was really cool.

The Norris Clan said...

Wow... I don't think I've run across a calendar like that at the booth in my mall this Christmas! Maybe Rick and I should make one? Would you buy one?