Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

love that hat girl!

For the readers that are not aware, the hat my header is wearing is called a "nón lá" in Vietnamese. It is worn primarily by older women, though you may find some men wearing one while working in a farm. I do not know the history of the hat accept that its style, like most cultural paraphenalia in Vietnam, is inspired from Chinese culture. According to my students, normal people do not wear the nón lá, lol. In other words, the younger generation does not find the nón lá fashionable. But, it has a very practical purpose. It keeps your face cool during the hot sunny afternoons, and it will keep you dry when it rains. I enjoy seeing the ladies in their nón lá hats. It keeps Vietnam authentically Vietnam. In no other country in the world, can you walk through a metropolitan city and see "cityfolk" wearing a nón lá. 

And, about it being fashionable. . . well I'm sure there are many modern examples of Western designers taking cues from the shape of the hat. But I will tell you this story: One day on my way to work I am sitting on my motorbike waiting for the light to turn green. I had just left my apartment and turned right after crossing over the bridge, connecting Binh Thanh to District 1, but still a bit far from what I consider "downtown". I look to my right and spot a young women wearing her nón lá. There are many crazy things happening on the street that can grab your attention, but the way this lady wore her nón lá was particularly funny. Dressed in a typical over-all pajama-like outfit, the lady walks confidently down the street in bright fushia. Atop her head is a nón lá, not plain and covered in plastic like the market sellers, no, she rocks a colorfully embroidered nón lá, like the one a tourist would get in Mui Ne (like the one hanging on my wall, you can see it if you skype me). Let me also mention the color of her pajama-jammy-jam matches the embroidered flowers on her conical crown. Hey, you know what they say, if you're gonna do it, do it with pride!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


 In the new Photoshop CS5 programmers introduced the Mixer Brush, which allows users to replicate intricate oil like paintings on a 2-D digital canvas. Pretty sweet. To test its merits and get my stylus pen dirty I will change up the header of the blog a bit. I introduced the feature to my students in class on Friday. The CS5 book took them through an exercise of painting digital photographs. Photos from Da Lat were the canvas, lets see what they created. . .
cloud break by Artist Seagoat
country side by Bao Linh
meadow by Chi Thanh
house by Sagas Studio

Monday, August 15, 2011

can you accept the truth?

FACT: You are alone and feel lonely.

TRUTH: God will never leave you or forsake you. No problem is too hard for God.

Friday, August 12, 2011

eating habits

a southeast asian orange and custard apples
The eating habits of the Vietnamese youth are so different from youth in the states. This morning in class, two of my students had corn on the cob for breakfast (in my class). Quite random for me. The only time I would eat corn on the cob is summer time, at a barbeque. When have you ever seen a young person in America, walking down the streets of your suburban neighborhood, or in an urban environment eating corn on the cob? or carrying a bag of freshly cut fruit? or a boiled sweet potato? It just doesn't happen.
But could it?

In summer time Chi if you look to the side of the street near the curb you will see a parked wagon full of watermelon, maybe oranges, sometimes strawberries. These are fruits in season during summer months and it's part of the culture to be outside attending festivals filled with food stalls of all kinds. Occasionally you might see somebody barbeque-ing on the corner, but they stay on their corner. You won't see little old ladies rolling stacked trays of ice blocks and fruit down the street. But isn't this the problem? Ghetto neighborhoods have always lacked convenient access to fresh produce, or grocery stores that sell a variety of quality fruits and vegetables. There are efforts to create urban gardens, community gardens where everyone takes part in the up keep of the seeds sowed. But again, these gardens stay on a particular corner. If I live on 109th, I'm not going to travel to the 67th street garden to grab some tomatoes or apples. We got to get mobile. Short, petite little old ladies of Ho Chi Minh City are carrying carts up and down hills, poorly paved roads in the midst of this crazy traffic (cause you can't walk on a "sidewalk," that space is already taken by the mom and her 10 year old chile selling leather belts!) Are you getting my drift? Perhaps the homicide rate in south side Chicago would go down if the youth had their hands on a cart of fresh fruit, rolling by peoples houses instead of driving by with a hand on a barrel. I know what you're thinking, What young adult wants to drag a cart of fruit in the heat all day? Well that's another problem. . . laziness. But they don't have to worry about getting sunburnt, the Vietnamese ladies attach a sun Umbrella to their cart. In the land of milk and honey, opportunity, and free speech I think we can concoct up something with AC, a sound system, and an LCD screen. They can't drive a motorbike, we have age limits on driving in America.
Heck, forget the ice cream man, we need a Fast Fruits™ chain. (dont steal it, it's already trademarked!)