Sunday, March 27, 2016

So Happy Together

The people are very friendly and polite in Vietnam. In Japan they were polite and sometimes friendly. In the Philippines they were mostly friendly but not so polite. And let’s face it, whenever one is in a big city to find any combination of friendly, polite and helpful is a rare miracle.

Tran Quoc Pagoda - The lake where John MaCain crashed his jet in the Vietnam War

Over the last couple of days, we have had great interactions with these kindly folks and their children.
There is a grand parade ground in the front of the Tomb of Ho Chi Min.  As you could imagine, there are many people of many nationalities which gather there to see the monument to the father of modern day Vietnam. Parents and Grandparents take the children for a stroll around the grounds. This where I had the honor to help a Vietnamese grandmother teach her grandchild about taking care of your things.

Presidential Palace

She was a sweet, 3 or 4-year-old dressed in a black velvet dress trimmed with white lace and shiny new patent leather-mary jane shoes. A headband secured a white velvet bow to her straight, jet black hair. Her shoulder bag was a furry kitten face, with a zipper between the ears. A day out walking   with Grandma can be tiring for any child and this cutie-pie was nearing the end of her rope. As we were almost beside them, the little one threw her purse to the ground and stomped off about 15 feet ahead. Grandma stood beside the purse. I don’t need to know Vietnamese to understand the conversation that transpired.

Swan boats on West Lake

Grandma, “come back and pick up your purse”
Cutie-pie, stomping her little mary janes, “no, you pick it up!”
Grandma, “we buy you nice things and this is how you treat them.”

Uncle Ho's Masoleum

By now, we had walked past a way and I had turned to watch the drama. As the arguing went back and forth, I walked up to Grandma (more than likely my age) touched her arm, winked and smiled. Slowly I bent down to the ground and picked up the furry, kitty purse. Holding it to my chest, I slowly stood up and moved one step behind Grandma as if I were going to leave with it in hand.
Of course, Grandma is speaking to grand-daughter the whole time and Cutie-pie is beginning to realize she may lose her purse!  She runs back to us as fast as her little cubby legs can carry her. Grandma is still scolding a mile a minute. I hold the purse out to her and she snatches it from my grasp and grabs her grandmothers leg.

Gift of Moon Pies at Confucius's Temple/College

Grandmother and I exchange secret smiles. We bow to each other and both head out in our opposite ways. As we part, I glance back. Grandma and Cutie-pie are now holding hands, the purse securely around her small shoulders. Sweetie looks back too with a look that is both a combination of worry and relief.  Grandma waves and smiles goodbye.
It was such a cute interaction; an international language of families.

Vietnamese model at Temple of Literature

Harvey looks at me and says, “I hope you didn’t just teach that little Vietnamese girl that the American tourists will steal your things.”

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