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Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The Bahamas. Vietnam memories

What then are their faults? In Vietnam, perhaps in the Far East generaly the idea of privacy does not seem to exist. The British tend to like being alone from the time they are two or three years old and shut away in their own bedroom. The Vietnamese families were large, with many generations living together, and certainly no room to call one's own.
This of course was exacerbated in Vietnam by the war which had resulted in towns being overcrowded and the countryside deserted but dangerous. As a people though they liked each others company and tended to get unhappy if left too long alone.
Their manners were graceful but certain of their habits at table with regards to making noises whilst eating grated on my ears. The more refined method of drinking soup at the dinner table in England did not exactly apply in their establishments that specialised in 'Pho'.
It seemed that if you were using a toilet you didn't lock the door. If you left it unlocked they would open it, see it was occupied and leave you alone. If on the other hand you locked it they would start hammering on it furiously.
If you had nearly been run down by somebody and they then started laughing it took some years to understand that really they were laughing because they were happy you were not hurt.
Hygiene seemed to vary considerably. There were those families who kept their houses spotless. On the other hand a dirty but crowded restaurant was the sign the food was good. A spotless empty one was to be avoided.
It took some time to get used to their ways and adapt. I had not always had much patience at the begining and a very narrow British and then colonial background had not helped. In all the years my family had lived in the Bahamas we had never once had a local to the house on a social occasion.

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