Sunday, April 12, 2009

Communicating in Vietnam

Staying in Vietnam without knowing english is a test of your acting skills and patience. Here are some incidents during my stay

This was during my first visit. I was very enthusiastic about tasting different dishes (rather animals) in vietnam. After progressing gradually from pork, beef, ostrich, seahorse to octupus, my curiosity and venturesomeness were at peak. Somebody told me that they even eat Frogs. Me and some fellow venturers were now asking our cook to prepare Frog for us. Needless to say we didn't know what is Frog called in Vietnamese and she was not knowing the word Frog. We tried to explain it to her by making different sounds, expressions, and gesticulations but everything was in vain. Finally I googled for images of frog and showed it to her.

We were leaving from the plant for lunch when some operators asked us about where are we going. Now isn't it easy to answer the question without any word? Well, not quite as we reailzed. Even though they nodded to our movements we could clearly see that they didn't understand anything. The puzzle was later unfolded by a fellow Indian living here since last two years. Vietnamese people have their food with a bowl held just below mouth by left hand and chopsticks in the right one. So if you want to indicate lunch/dinner, any movement of right hand is not enough; you need to use your left hand as well. 

This one is the best so far. It was my birthday and we were going to have a blast. I was searching the grocery shop for some food items as sidedish (I guess, I dont need to mention the purpose..). In vietnam, it is very difficult to find anything hot in taste; everything is either sweet or sour. After trying some such items, finally I had an idea, to prepare boiled eggs with some masala. Now I was not hoping store-keepers to understand the word egg. I went to our driver (they are the best translators you get for free) but even he didn't get it at first shot. I spelled the word on my hand and even drew a small figure but with no success. I was very determined to find out eggs and there I saw some chickens kept for sell. I thought now I can definitely tell him what I am searching for. I took him near the chickens and even tried some gesticulations. Still no success. Finally I started searching for eggs in the stores by myself. And there he came back to call me, eureka, he had understood what I was trying to tell him. But it was too late, by that time I had also found eggs in one of the stores.

There are many more incidents like these and I will post them as I recollect them.


  1. HaHaHaHaHa!!! it would be funnier to watch you do those actions..

  2. hehehehehe..
    that was hilarious..

    one query...
    what wud u do if u were to ask about the NATURE CALL...???