The family who owns my new apartment building also happens to live in the duplex on the second and third floors. They’ve been incredibly kind in helping me get set-up in my new home. In fact, they have focused all their efforts in the two apartments they rent, and not so much on their own space.
The oldest son, Trung knocked on my door this evening and invited me to dinner. The family was enjoying the Vietnamese traditional food, Pho, a hot noodle soup dish. Inside their kitchen, they have yet to install the cabinets and many of the conveniences. They are waiting to build the internal stairs, as the lumber is not ready yet. They have no living room furniture, except a large, flat-screen TV and a cabinet to put it on. The dining area contains an old and simple dining table and chairs. They are sort of like camping in their own home right now. But they wanted to share a meal with me, and when a Vietnamese family invites you into their home, especially your landlord, you accept.
This is when I wish I could speak Vietnamese. In moments like these, all my Japanese comes rushing forward and I can only think to say all sorts of pleasantries in Nihongo. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! Sore wa oishi desu ne! Omorshiroi desu yo! Ah, sou desu ka?! But that sure wouldn’t get me very far! Fortunately the older son, Trung, does speak some decent English. And I think both he and his younger brother are keen to learn. The family knows that I was a teacher in Japan, and I’m guessing that as I live in harmony with this family, we will learn a bit from each other. To tell you the truth, I saw living above the family as both a positive and negative. Positive being a good cultural lesson for me. Tonight was a good start.
The Pho was delicious, and our conversation flowed easily. I reverted to my uber-simple English so that Thuy and Lien, the parents, could try to understand. We talked about food and popular dishes in our countries. We talked about the apartment construction; apparently the cabinet maker is very popular in Hanoi and builds things for some of the big hotels, too. I also learned that what stood on this property before this brand-new building was a century-old, traditional Vietnamese, 1-story home. The house had been in their family for ages. And instead of demolishing it altogether, they took it apart plank by plank, roof tile by roof tile. Once disassembled and numbered, it was hauled off to Danang to another relative’s property and put back together. Apparently the neighbors (especially the elderly ones) were a bit pissed off at them for taking away this historic home. Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded seeing it!
Of course, as always, the universe aligns and I get questioned about my marital status and mommyhood dreams. No and not yet. Geez…everyone wants to see me married! With kidlets! Of course, no one is offering up The Dude, so until that happens…No and not yet.
I’ll look forward to the next chance to get to know my neighbors. I should probably invite them up for dinner and serve a hearty pasta with garlic bread and some delicious wine. Good chance for them, too!
On the Bright Side,