Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We're Here!

by Karissa

A few nights ago I was seranaded at supper, by a man on a guitar. Then he kissed my hand. It wasn't my husband, but Eric was there, sitting across the table from me. The guy also toasted Eric about 8 times. Every meal is an experience...

I had just finished my first demo lesson (they want to make sure we're good teachers) and it had started raining. Eric met me at school and we quickly walked to the first restaurant on our way from the school. It was busy, but it was mostly men patrons and there was a lot of cigarette smoke in the air. We went to the next restaurant (these restaurants open up onto the street, much like a store in a mall opens up to the main hallway). This restaurant is called Red. There were chairs that were normal height at tables with tablecloths. Nice! Of course, the fanciness would mean the prices are a bit higher, but eating at a food stand wasn't much of an option when it's raining out.

The friendly man who seranaded me was another guest at the restaurant, there with two of his musical buddies and one of their lady friends. They were singing a bit and playing guitar before he came over. He brought over a Tiger (seen everywhere here!) beer, poured some into Eric's cup and started toasting him. "Uh.... America!" (toast) "Uh, aaah, uh, number one!" (toast) This went on until either he ran out of things he could toast about in English or the bottle was empty. I'm not sure. I got one toast near the end. I think it was to marriage or something. I wasn't quick enough to toast him lower on his cup than he on mine, which is polite. Then he sang a song with several verses, his friend tapping the guitar with the beat. Each verse ended with "Vietnam... America!" (the only English part of the song).

The beer was done. The toasts were complete. The song was over. And the friendly man went back to his table. Eric and I smiled and talked about it for a bit, finished our veggie appetizer (probably the only time we've ever had a plate of steamed veggies as an appetizer!) and entree of grilled steak (yum!) We asked for the bill (we act this out buy either writing something in the air or pretending to write something on our hand--sometimes one works, sometimes the other works). We got our bill... and to our surprise and, yes we giggled, the beer that we had been toasted with had been put on our bill.


  1. Hah! Gotta love cultural experiences. :) You are a great writer and I look forward to a year of reading your posts.

  2. Oh, you should have seen that one coming! Oh well, that's part of the experience, right?

  3. Love the "can we have our bill" pantomime! :)

  4. That reminds me of one of my friend's Asian experiences... ("the only english parts of the song - vietnam america") She was riding an elephant in thailand I believe. The little boy/elephant wrangler knew a few words in English. His lexicon consisted of: Happy Birthday, my elephant, America...and when my friend pantomimed "how should I get off [YOUR elephant]?"...she heard a fourth utterance in English: