Work has picked up this week so life is getting busier and making me feel more a part of this city. But nothing makes a person feel more like a part of life here like getting on a bike. And I don’t mean a bicycle. I’m talkin’ a motorbike…
We teach every day except Fridays (unless we’re dumb enough to answer our phones that day because they’ll slot us in whenever we take the call.) It’s nice to be in high demand though because we only get paid once monthly so we like to accrue as many hours as we possibly can so we’ve got a nice chunk to survive (and hopefully thrive) on throughout the month.
The weekends are the busiest days of the week with the most amount of classes. On the weekends we start as early as 7:40 and we teach only kids. Bagheera has the really little ones (read: glorified daycare) most of the time and thanks to Mama K, she implemented the new reward system this morning for her “Demon Class” (Froot Loops every time they so much as shut their little gobs for more than five seconds or plunk their asses on the floor).
Not sure, however, that the bag is not now infested with bubonic plague or something equally gross thanks to those grimy paws children have. So that particular bag of cereal has its own shelf in the cupboard with the express understanding from both of us that no matter how tempting those fruity O’s might look or how famished we are, we must never, ever ingest them ourselves.
I, on the other hand, teach kids slightly older (6+) and they’re all pretty good (as soon as I put them into my Nazi seating arrangements that is). Both of us were so burnt out this morning. We felt like death warmed over and we were both secretly nervous we’d fall asleep on the fifteen minute cab ride into work. But we made it, I didn’t physically or emotionally harm any urchins, and then we came home and took coma naps (four hours long).
We only teach on weekday evenings for the time being which is really nice. But we’ve been finding that we take so much pride in our planning (AKA finding ridiculous games so that our classes love us) that we get up and pretty much plan and dick around on the computer until we have to leave for class. But we’re getting better at it and we’re going to start being able to share lesson plans with each other which will significantly cut down on prep work.
So we’re also in the process of roping Rhino into Motorbike Driving Lesson 2.0 this week. Our landlady has a beautiful bike that she’s willing to rent us for a very reasonable fee but we need to get comfortable with the rules of the road. And by that, I mean to say there are no rules just suggestions and avoiding idiots who drive upstream or pull U-turns whenever they see fit.
Here is the video Bagheera compiled of my first driving experience during our first week here under the watchful eye of Rhino & Pistol. Behold Mowgli Unleashed!
I can take no credit for the fantastic cinematic achievement that this is. I can only appreciate Bagheera’s raw talent and finely-tuned videography and editing skills.
Another random quirk about Vietnam: ovens are not included in most flats. We don’t have an oven. It’s not really a thing here unless you buy one at an appliance store. Really bizarre. But it’s also so hot that an oven would be a stupid waste of electricity and it would only mean we’d have to crank the AC that much higher. And yeah, the heat here is pretty stifling.It took our bodies almost two weeks to feel like we weren’t dying. But it’s still pretty uncomfortable when you’re outside between the hours of 11:00-16:00.
We’ve just come to accept that sweating is a fact of life. And that the Vietnamese don’t really go out in the sun so that’s how they survive. They also embrace the tradition of a siesta which we are rapidly coming to like. The school closes from 12:00-2:00 and you are encouraged to go for lunch and take a nap if you live close enough.
A little anecdote to go along with the topic of sun (and this can be seen as sad or just a fact of life): Now that I look back on my American history lessons, we talked a lot about this phenomenon in North America during the time of the Second World War. But sadly this still exists in 2012.
The Vietnamese, like most non-Caucasian races, are obsessed with being white. They will wear hoodies, pants, socks (with sandals – a fashion faux pas anywhere else), and Madonna elbow-length gloves to preserve a porcelain complexion. They have bleaching agents in most of their soaps and even in their moisturizing creams.
Imagine what these people would do if we subjected them to an episode of Jersey Shore or showed them a picture of the Tanning Mum! They would be appalled. We realise more and more each day how random and yet fortunate it was that we were born white and how easy it is to take that for granted living in a developed nation like Canada.
*This was sampled from an e-mail sent to my friend BSG (shout outs are in order) – so he was the original recipient but I felt it necessary to share with all of you so you’re getting his sloppy seconds #sorrynotsorry