Saturday, December 29, 2012

"I Will Make You More Beautiful"

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?"

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.

"Marjie!" she said. (She is unique in that she never called me "Maggie.") She cried and hugged me, then repeated the hug a few times.

"Call me tomorrow," she said before returning to her client. So I went to the Bum Bum for a hair wash, and realized that I had forgotten the feel of a freshly peeled frozen cucumber on my face following a facial.

This 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.

I 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.

When 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.


Anonymous said...

Marjie, it is me, your HLM. I read of Nam's death with such sorrow. I am inspired by the mystery and the beauty of your trip -- not to mention your new eyelashes. Traveling mercies on you, not to mention some badass guardian angels.

Unknown said...

Be careful when you walk on the streets Ms. Marjorie!

Anonymous said...

You got a massage from Tran! (not to mention eyelashes!). I am SO happy to read of so many reunions but each one so special.

So sorry to hear about Trin's arm, but I love thinking about you being able to converse that much more easily with her...

Sad to hear that the cowboys are worse than ever...


Mungo said...

"Marjie, I want to make you more beautiful..." - how is that possible??

Brian Bowker said...

@Mungo: DING! Winner!