Sunday, June 06, 2010

Top 20

Since what I will miss of my castle-food-neighborhood-good-friends-limitless-travel-maid-massages-hair-washes-hammocks-on-the-roof-amazingly-sweet-students life here is pretty obvious, here is a list I've been making of the things I will not miss (perhaps because it makes it easier to leave...I have had a few panic attacks lately) (listed in no particular order except #1):

1. The heat. I really can't take being sticky all the time any more.

2. The rats I run over on my motorbike every day. They are flat rats that have already been run over by many other motorbikes so if you were to pick one up it would float in the wind, like a paper rat.

3. Horns honking incessantly. Even though I know objectively that horn honking is not rude here, it will always seem rude. I have been staring each honker down, like "did you REALLY need to do that?" I have not honked my motorbike horn once this entire year.

4. Vendors telling me to "sit down" in a very commanding voice. I don't know why I react so strongly against this, but I refuse to sit down when even my sweetest vendors tell me to.

5. The vendors pointing to all of the food they sell every time I pass. Yes, I know you are selling pineapple today. You have been selling it for two years and I will buy some if I want it...again, why does this irritate me so much? A few vendors I truly love never, ever point to what they are selling. I adore them.

6. Parking my motorbike in very small spaces next to other motorbikes that have the potential to sear my legs in new places.

7. Hearing about motorbike thieves at least once per week now. Friday night, my neighboring teacher friend, Sarah, had her bag around her neck and a motorbike thief grabbed it and dragged her until she lost consciousness and broke her arm and injured her head. These attacks are getting more and more frequent, it seems.

8. Teenagers speaking in a language I don't understand. Yes, they are endlessly sweet - but what are they saying? They are teenagers, after all.

9. Parking my motorbike in my house. It's just not great decoration.

10. My countertop and sink that is made for a very small person. I am tired of leaning over to cook or do dishes, so therefore I hardly ever cook or do dishes. The other day I forgot how to make one of my favorite signature recipes...

11. Being an Amazon. At home I feel so normal-sized!

12. The air pollution. I don't even want to think about what my lungs look like now.

13. The dengue fever potential flying around in the mosquitoes here. I got the flu last week and had the same symptoms I did with dengue - I was terrified!

14. The obstacle course on my daily ride to school. Sometimes it's kinda fun, but lately it has really bugged me.

15. Asian cable TV.

16. Ants attacking any sugar I leave out for even five seconds.

17. The cockroaches that apparently still inhabit a box above my bathroom. Don't you just hate the way they run/scurry across the floor?

18. My weak shower that gets my toilet wet. I hate this shower. My Phinney condo has the best shower I have ever showered under, and it will shower me again beginning on the 20th.

19. The stand-off with the deaf/something-else-wrong-with-her- pineapple lady. She's the one who sells onions and garlic, but she got very irate with me when I bought pineapple from a vendor sitting right next to a vendor I had (unknowingly) bought from the previous week. I have not bought from either one since. And the second one - well, she has the best looking avocados lately. I am afraid to buy them because vendor #1 also has avocados - but not at all as attractive as #2's. What a pity.

20. The frogs that are skinned alive - heads snipped off and still jumping - that sit in a bucket next to the banana lady each morning.

OK, 20 is a good place to stop.

Of course, for each of these complaints there are five positives. Katherine and I - while debriefing in the hammocks one recent night - talked about how we had changed over these past two years. We came up with the same word to wrap it up: resiliency. Vietnam has made us both much more resilient.

AmyT, who comments regularly here, taught in Hungary for two years. Years ago we were out to eat and I found a hair in my food. When I mentioned it, she asked me a simple question: "Human or animal?" and when I answered "human," that told me what my reaction should be - absolutely nothing. I wanted that same thing she had. Maybe another word for that quality is "perspective."

Resiliency and perspective. I hope these qualities stick for a while~


Anonymous said...

For item number#4, these vendors did not have a proper translation to communicate.
The correct English greetings would be "please sit down" or "Have a seat, please". This will be equivallent to Vietnamese words "Xin moi ngoi".

It is very rude to say "sit down" as it is equal to in Vietnamese language "ngoi xuong", "ngoi di". These vendors would not say it to Vietnamese customers.

Since there is a language barrier, you would judge these vendors through body language, voice and smiles.

I am a silent follower, enjoy to read ALL your articles since I discovered your website in late 2008. I guess you are returning to Seattle for good then.

Brian Bowker said...

Terrible list, Marjie! Just terrible!


Michelle said...

I love those qualities; resiliency and perspective. I think I could work on those too! You've been an inspiration Marjie. Safe travel to you as you venture back to Seattle.

Marjie said...

Thanks for commenting, Anonymous...yes, most of the time they do say "please" but it is in the tone of voice, like you said.

And yes, I am going to miss this place~

Angie said...

I had forgotten about many of those little annoyances that we dealt with when we were there. Like the horn honking! I guess the more time that goes by since our visit the more I just remember the good parts.

When you are recovered from jet lag, I'll take you out to the Indian restaurant I told you about. Just a little something for you to look forward to!

Megan said...

I was surprised to see that their music was not on your list! Haha I was so thankful that I had my i-pod in Vietnam... I think that I would have gone bonkers without it!

We cant wait to see when you get home! I just told Nolan and Devon that you are going to be home by the 20th and they got really excited also!

We miss you and hope that you have a safe trip home! We will be waiting for your arrival, safe and sound! :-)

nolan said...

in Washington it has been raining a lot so u wont have to worry about pollution here.

Devon said...

Marjie coming home? That's unheard of! It'll be good to have you back.

You are going to have to relearn how to cross the street, I'm still not back to normal on that one.

Hey! You'll get to meet the new dog of ours. Perhaps he would make a good welcome home present for you?

See you soon =)

Marjie said...

Oh yeah..

#21 Music played to distortion (really bad music, too...although I do like the shop that blasts Michael Jackson all day.

#22 Crossing the street. I am pretty used to it now, but I have come a long way from learning from the blind man, how you should just WALK and let the motorbikes swarm around you.

Thanks for reminding me~

The Norris Clan said...

Even the things you won't miss will be
missed, I'm sure. But there is really nothing like a great shower! Can't wait to see you...

Mungosaremb said...

See? I am SO GLAD you're getting away from all those nuisances! Life here is spectacular.

Cecilie said...

After spending only 14 days in Vietnam your list makes a lot of sense to me - except I would have put the sugar one on top. I hate it when I don´t get MY sugar!