Thursday, March 31, 2011

New road to work

I live in the south of the city while my workplace is in the east. In the past there was only one way from home to work: Giai Phong Street - Truong Dinh street - Minh Khai - Lac Trung/Vinh Tuy/Vinh Hung (3 campuses) and on the way home: Lac Trung/Vinh Tuy/Vinh Hung - Minh Khai - Dai La - Giai Phong or Lac Trung - Thanh Nhan - Le Thanh Nghi - Giai Phong. Almost every day I travelled along these streets. These streets are crowded and sometimes I get stuck in jams. But they are in quite good condition and not too dirty/dusty. Recently to avoid driving in deep water near Vinh Hung campus, I have been travelling the number 3 beltway. New road, not much traffic, but very dusty, especially sunny weather after raining/showering. We have to travel in dust. Hair has to be washed more often, mortobike too. Once when I got home I found that part of my face not covered by the mask was covered by dust. Looking like a person from the Incredible family. :-) Not only on the beltway. If you travel in Hanoi, near the suburbs and near construction sites (many in the capital now) you will have the same experience: travelling in dust. Terrible if lorries or cars overtake you. Unluckily, I live in the outskirt. Travelling long distance to work, to the centre by motorbike is what I do regularly. I don't know when we can enjoy a clean (at least without dust) air in this city.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Modest plant

When I lived with my parents in a small village in Gia Lam District (now Long Bien), we had a lime plant by the pond. Lime trees need quite a lot water to grow up and be happy. So the location by the pond was ideal for our tree. It was very big with plenty of green leaves. And when it blossomed, the flowers were tiny, white and sweet smelling. Lime flowers are so simple, not so luxurious or colourful as other kinds of flowers. Women in the countryside are compared to lime flowers: nice and simple and modest. Hope I belong to this type of women :-).

When I got married and lived on the top/fifth floor of a building in the city. I wanted to have a lime plant. My father bought for me a lime plant, and I put it in a big pot. Nice plant: green and large leaves, and it even produced fruits. I liked it very much.

Now life has changed. No lime plant by the pond anymore. Part of my parents' land was sold. I do not live on the fifth floor floor anymore. I could not take the plant with me when moving out. It is too big and the pot is too heavy to carry. My father passed away ... When I decided to have my 'babylon garden', the first plant I thought I would buy was a lime plant. It is growing well here and is going to blossom soon. It seems that I am good at growing plants. (My fate is water according to Chinese astrology and plants are wood. Water is good for wood. That is why I have a nice garden on the balcony :-)

Last Sunday, I went to a wedding in a village in Thai Nguyen. There I saw flowers of a grapefruit tree. They reminded me very much of my father. He planted grapefruit trees in our garden, long time ago...

I realize that I still miss the time I lived in the village. And I still have something modest. Life in the city changes me a bit. Deep in my heart I am always a woman from the countryside and I wish to carry that part of me to the end of my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nasty weather

I thought coldness of the winter had gone. I put away Bob's leather blanket a couple of weeks ago. But in the last few days Hanoi has been experiencing another bad weather: cold (9 degrees) and showering/drizzling. Unusual in mid-March, when summer is coming. Not comfortable at all travelling in such bad weather from home to work on a scooter. In addition, it makes the clothes hanging on the balcony not well-dried. I have to use the heater to dry them. Anyhow, we are still lucky when living in the middle of the sky :-), the floor does not sweat at all. People are easy to get tired and bored or even sick when humidity is too high. According to a weather forecast it will be sunny this weekend. Hope the forecast is accurate - we are going away this Sunday. Not fun at all if it rains.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

13 years

Yesterday was 13 years that I got married. A milestone in any woman's life. And like any woman in the world, I expected/hoped/wished/strived for a happy marriage. I was a little dreamer (still now) when I thought we needed only love to ensure our marriage. Life proves that I am wrong. Terribly wrong. Love is one of many factors...

13 years is too short compared to our life but long enough for me to experience happy and unhappy, sweet and bitter/painful moments in a woman's life, love and hatred, faith and betrayal, weakness and strength...

Life is not always as we wish. It is a bit difficult for me to accept this to be honest. But I have to...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nice flowers

Recently, I have been a bit busy: preparing tests, marking papers and editing materials. Life is not easy for a teacher cum assistant dean :-). I make a list of things to do from now to the our summer holiday. More than ever do I realize that being a good leader is really hard work. And what I receive in return mostly spiritually-valued rather than financially-valued. However, I shouldn't complain, should I? Sometimes I have the feeling of being in a race and of course I don't want to be a loser. I have to spread my work, set deadlines, and feel happy when I meet them. This afternoon, I marked my students' papers. I treated myself some time to write a new entry and to show the basket of flowers my students gave me on Women's Day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Party with colleagues

Yesterday evening our department gave a buffet to celebrate Women's Day. 45 adults and 7 children turned up. Not all the teachers and staff. I know the number accurately because I was assigned to pay the bill. The restaurant is Buffet Viet in Tang Bat Ho Street. I arrived at 5.50 pm because we ordered for 6 pm but it did not start until 6.30. Good food, good atmosphere and good chat. We first went here to say goodbye to the old dean. So yesterday was the second time. We stayed there until after 8 pm. I was one the few people who came first and also one of the few people who left last. However, it does not mean that I ate a lot ;-). Just because I like punctuality and I had to pay the bill. On the way home, I travelled in rain. Terrible weather.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saving money

These days people are talking a lot about price increase. Price increase means that we should save money as much as we can, work a bit more, reduce needs, try to do things yourself instead of "outsourcing', etc.

I change myself a bit, just a bit, to adapt to the 'policy' of saving. Why a bit? Easy to answer. I have a simple lifestyle already. :-) Simple but still comfortable. I opt for the 'philosophy' of just buying things I really need and things of high quality, within my budget. I read on the internet about how to save money. They give a list of around 109 ways. I check my ways of saving money and I realize I do almost the same as they suggest.

I decide to work one more morning, Saturday morning (earn some money and kill lonely time if any). I decide to wash my hair at home (massage my head better) more often than at the hairdresser's. I decide to cycle to pick up my son instead of riding my Attila (save petrol and increase exercise for both mum and son). I decide not to have new clothes (because I still have so many nice ones, some of them were made last year but I haven't worn them once). Luckily I don't have to cut down on food and I don't have intention of doing it. :-) Why not? Easy to answer too. We eat not much and usually cook enough to eat.

Even I have some minor changes, my lifestyle is still considered "satisfactory". We are going to travel to Sapa on public holiday (29 April - 2 May), which is one of so many examples. :-)

8 March

Women's Day is coming but I got two bunches of lilies already. They are very nice and I think they will last for at least ten days. I guess such beautiful flowers cost a lot of money. I could not ask the 'presenter' how much. :-) In Vietnam, gardeners and florists sell a lot of flowers on Tet holiday, Valentine's Day, Women's Day, Vietnamese Women's Day and Teachers' Day. So not too surprised if my flowers here are worth half a million dongs. But their emotional value is not calculated. Many thanks to my love.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Drinking tea: my new taste

Drinking tea is a tradition/culture in Vietnam, especially in the North. Before we start conversations we often offer our guests tea. But honestly I did not like drinking tea much (however, sometimes, I drink tea from tea bags) until recently. When I started working as a freelance interpreter for a programme, I got to know more about tea. The reason is the programme gets involved in tea sector value chain. I have a chance to see tea gardens and how to process tea. I got some tea packets from my 'boss' and from my 'business trips'.:-) And I decided to try my new way of drinking tea, loose tea.

I have bought a tea set long time ago, but have never used it. Still on the top of my bookcase. Anh, my consultant, does not like tea made in a ceramic pot. He consisted on buying a nice glass teapot for me. We spent time looking for it but failed. Finally I saw one glass teapot made in Japan on a shelf in Fivimart and took it. It was him to guide me how to make good tea: not too strong and one serving a pot. When I pour the tea into my cup, the colour is so beautiful.

Now, I am not only addicted to instant coffee but also high quality tea (also labeled Fair Trade - new concept to many Vietnamese people). And I have up to two very nice tea pots and so many tea boxes including these three. Some more are in cupboards. One pot for one cup and one for two cups :-). If you come to visit me, surely you will be invited to enjoy tea with me: sitting on a comfortable sofa in a cozy living room, drinking "luxury tea" made in a "luxury pot" poured into "nice" cups and offered by "charming" lady. Don't be confused, "lady" here refers to me.:-)