I was here just one hour yesterday when Thanh suggested I get my hair washed at the Bum Bum.
"You want massage?" she asked. And then, "Tran?"
is the girl that Katherine and I hired to come to the castle once per
week to give us massages in the balcony room. She stopped giving
massages at the Bum Bum after our first year.
"Really?" I said,
unbelieving. Then she walked me over to Tran's new salon - a tiny place
with one massage bed and one chair for other services. She called Tran's
name and when she pulled back the curtain, it was like waterworks.
she said. (She is unique in that she never called me "Maggie.") She
cried and hugged me, then repeated the hug a few times.
morning, during my market walk, I ran into Tran and Trin - Katherine's
and my favorite hair washer at the Bum Bum. They were having coffee and
invited me to sit down. Trin now has her own salon, but it took a year
for her to heal after breaking her arm very badly. From what I
understood, a roof had fallen on her and she had collapsed, breaking her
arm in two.
Both of them had been studying English for the past two years, so our conversation flowed pretty well.
made an appointment with Tran for 11. After an hour massage, she said,
"Marjie, I want to make you more beautiful, do you have time?" Do I have
time? What is "time" in this place, anyway? It disappears for me. I
nodded a "yes" and for the next hour and a half, she worked on giving me
permanent eye lashes. And they are beautiful.
I asked her how
much and she said, "100,000." That's six dollars, for almost three
hours of work. "Souvenir," she said, regarding the eyelashes.
Finally, she accepted 300,000 VND, $18 for all of that.
I left her salon, it was about 2 - almost 24 hours since learning of
Nam's death. Even at his mother's side, while watching big tears fall
and hit the hard bench which is her bed, I felt so removed. I was just
watching someone else's pain. But as I walked back to my hotel, big
waves of grief hit me.
Tonight Thanh and I will walk downtown. I
will leave my bag and my phone/camera in the hotel. Thanh says the
cowboys are worse than ever, and that I can't take my eyes off of my
phone for a minute. And that if I carry a bag, it will probably be
taken. If Nam's family can be a victim of the cowboys, anyone can.
Having been the victim of one once already in my life, I think I can do
without more pictures.