Sunday, March 02, 2008


I again spent yesterday in whatever marginal space exists between my feelings of being an outsider in, and also being a competent resident of, Ho Chi Minh City. Friday, these feelings evolved from situations less complex: I was finally in the role of a competent, advancing my experiences of the city to our visitor, Sunshine's mother. Today's interstitial state was slightly more reflexive: we had a nice dinner with one of Sunshine's language instructors from Virginia, returned for a month-long visit. Also present were members of his family who live here still. Sunshine and I live here, but with less articulation and understanding, and Bet had only been here for two days. We were in a restaurant located near Reunification Palace, an area tourists frequent. Before, at this particular place, it was interesting to note that the staff--and vendors around the doorway—cast us as tourists, treatment seemingly out-of-step with our progression as local residents by that time. Today, those assumptions were muted due to our large, mostly-Vietnamese group. Nevertheless, the four generations of different cultural functionality sitting around that table left me with a lot to think about over my bowl of rock fish soup and one skewered squid. Talking about these cultural things involved a little stilted translation, lining awkward Vietnamese up with awkward English to get some answers to a lot of polite questions about food, history, and these two languages, themselves. Where does inventiveness fall within the cultural curve? The squid was so faultlessly baked onto the wooden skewers I was unable to remove it with my chopsticks. Giving up, I was unable to remove it with my fingers, either. Finally I broke the skewer itself, and ate my portion off the stick. This didn't seem to matter in the scheme of things. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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