I'm walking through the alley at night- the alley that by morning is the market - when a group of people I'm always friendly with says hello and waves me over. In the evenings, many families sit outside their homes reclining in lawn chairs, just passing the time.
The woman in the group- who, by morning, sells me baguettes from time to time - offers me some dried squid. You know how much I love squid...but in its dried form, it is nothing like its former self. It's smelly. Men ride carts around with dried squid hanging from a wooden bar and I almost get up and run from them to escape the smell when they and their dried squid pass.
Of course I pretend to enjoy this woman's squid and say "Cam on" (thank you).
I begin to walk away but she calls me back. She runs inside her house and comes out holding four baby mangoes. They're so cute, and these little ones are always extra sweet and juicy. I don't see them much in the market. "Cam on!" I say, no longer pretending.
But then, listen to what she does. As an afterthought, she grabs one of the mangoes back. She looks at me to make sure I am watching and makes a peeling gesture to the mango, like, "You have to peel these first, then you eat the fruit inside." She does this a couple of times so that I am sure to get it. The others in the group sit quietly...patiently, while this woman demonstrates the necessity of peeling fruit.
Does this remind you of anyone? Maybe I was too hard on Nam; I mean, maybe this culture really believes we have no clue as to how to peel corn on the cob or fruit, or how to wash lettuce. Maybe it's part of the cultural propaganda that our entire nation eats at McDonald's for every meal. Who knows.
But the point is...what is the point?
It brought back uncomfortable memories. I have not yet reached cultural peace with this type of Vietnamese kindness.
I'm so glad my banana lady has never tried to show me how to peel a banana.