Monday, August 17, 2009

Living Hanoi: Part 2

Celine and I have been living in our new home for a few days now. The family is great. They are very kind to us and are giving us a great insight into the Vietnamese culture. As mentioned previously Madame Dzung speaks good French and a little English. Mr Tuan speaks good English. This enables us to cross communicate well. Grand-mere speaks Vietnamese and one or two words from a number of different languages. After “Merci” and “Thank you” though it gets a bit tough. Grand-mere is always smiling and laughing and is a very happy person. She likes to read a lot and listen to Vietnamese folk music.

The house opens into the lounge room where we spend most of the time. Here we have our meals as well as chat, relax and watch TV (rarely). Mr Tuan uses the internet quite a bit to listen to music and do his work. At the moment he is scanning all the old pictures of his mother and father. He has showed me many of these explaining the stories along the way. His father was in the army and as hundreds of thousands of other young men went to fight to protect their country. Grand-mere was a teacher in her early days and has been given a number of medals for her bravery during the war. One such time she took many children to safety to avoid the American bombs. This was recognised as a courageous act. Because of this she met Ho Chi Minh and this meeting can be seen in a number of the photos. It is interesting to think that she has lived though a great deal of conflict in Hanoi from French rule to the Vietnam War. Despite any of this I have not met a happier person.

On the ground floor there is also our room and our bathroom and the kitchen. Our room has a double bed (very hard mattress), a simple cupboard for our clothes, a bed side table and a chair. The room is more than comfortable. We have air-conditioning and a fan. Upstairs is a room for Mr Tuan and Mrs Dzung, a spare room, a balcony and stairs up to a courtyard on the roof. We had only recently found out that Grand-mere sleeps in the lounge room on a fold out bed. Worried that we took her room when we moved in we asked where she slept before we arrived. Mr Tuan said that she always sleeps in the lounge room because she does not like the mattress in our room. It is too soft apparently. Go figure :). Instead she sleeps on a mat which is rolled out on the bed frame. This is common it seems for the Vietnamese who will often not use a mattress at all.

The kitchen is for the women and Madame Dzung will prepare meals. We have had some great meals already. They are usually quite simple but very tasty. There are generally noodles or rice with a meat dish and vegetables. I have asked a few Vietnamese while here what there favourite food is. The reply more than once has been vegetables. Healthy eaters! Celine has helped preparing the meals and is learning some tricks of the trade. No complaints here :).

The family are always happy to answer our questions, give us advice, teach us Vietnamese and even help us find jobs. It has been a great experience so far and despite obvious differences in our cultures they have been accommodating and extremely friendly. We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks here.

For related blogs see:

Dan décrit notre vie dans la famille Vietnamienne. Ils sont gentils avec nous et nous apprennent beaucoup sur la culture vietnamienne. Le couple a une cinquantaine d’années: elle s’appelle Dzung et lui Tuan. Elle est femme au foyer + prof de Français et de crochet quelques heures par semaine. Lui est Vice-président de sa société, une boite Internet. Leurs enfants de 17 et 22 ans étudient a l’étranger. La vieille grand-mère vit avec eux parce que Tuan est son fils aine et que c’est la coutume ici. (Christelle, c’est toi qui t’y colles, he he. En même temps c’est toi qui a l’héritage L )
Elle est mignonne comme tout, a toujours le sourire et une manie frôlant le TOC de réajuster les ventilos toutes les deux minutes pour qu’ils soient bien en face de Dan et moi. Personnellement, je l’adore et ai envie de lui parler tout le temps et de lui faire des cadeaux – malheureusement elle ne parle pas Français ni Anglais a part « Merci » « Thank you » et « Manger ». Dan décrit la maison : la pièce principale juxtapose notre chambre a coucher, et parce qu’une fenêtre intérieure relie les deux pièces, il n’y a pas trop d’intimité. On a notre propre salle de bain en bas mais il faut traverser la pièce principale pour y accéder donc on ne sort pas de la douche en petite tenue, quoi. Tuan et Dzung dorment a l’étage, mais Grand-Mère, elle, nous venons de le découvrir, dort dans la pièce principale. Une fois que tout le monde est couche, elle se déplie un petit lit de camp et dort a même le sommier. Nous on trouve le matelas dur comme du bois, ceci dit on y dort très bien et c’est bon pour le dos, mais Grand-mère elle trouve notre lit insupportablement trop mou !
La cuisine est le domaine des femmes. Mme Dzung y fait la cuisine. On a déjà souvent mangé avec eux et c’est toujours simple mais délicieux : la plupart du temps viande + légumes avec des nouilles de riz ou du riz blanc. Les Vietnamiens adorent les légumes, au point de les décrire souvent comme leur nourriture préférée. Dan dit aussi qu’il est bien content que j’apprenne quelques rudiments de cuisine vietnamienne. D’ailleurs je compte prendre des cours.

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