Talkative Tailors in Hoi An, Vietnam
Our forays in to the tailor shops in Hoi An left us with an increase of than simply extra (or superfluous) clothing for the wardrobe. Even when a small business deal was clearly not involved, we discovered that shop owners were often available to sharing their lives and their opinions around. These unprotected moments provided us with insight into Vietnam’s diversity, the legacy of the Vietnam War (or, “American War”, as it’s called here), and opinions on the impact of Vietnam’s breakneck speed development is wearing Vietnamese tradition and culture.
After placing an order with a tailor one evening, we got swept up in a conversation with a bright, talkative woman in her mid-twenties. We chatted for what appeared like hours and stayed long past closing time.
She tells us that northern Vietnamese have become close to their own families, however, not very open and sometimes two-faced to others. The southern Vietnamese are warm and speak from the center. The central Vietnamese on the coast reside in concern with typhoons and strong storms – they live for as soon as and so are open and friendly. The central Vietnamese who live behind the security of the mountains, like in Hue, are smooth talkers, but aren’t genuine. As in every countries, stereotypes and prejudices characterize folks from different regions. We can not affirm or deny some of this, once we spent little over per month throughout Vietnam. Nonetheless it was fascinating to listen to. Not that is any surprise, but suspicions and stereotypes – like ethnic jokes – commence to take on an extremely familiar ring.
AN INDIVIDUAL Story
Prejudices aside, this woman’s personal story was representative of several in Hoi An. Her family has owned the merchant house where her family lives and runs a small business for eight generations. She’s of Chinese descent, but identifies herself clearly and proudly as Vietnamese. In an elaborate twist of family trees and politics, she tells us that her father caused the American forces through the war, despite the fact that his father was a solid supporter of the Viet Cong. Thirty years later, the daddy still includes a black mark against his name, and for that reason, her older siblings were not in a position to finish their schooling as a result of this. On her behalf, things continually improve and time appears to slowly heal old wounds, but certain areas of research and work in the federal government are both closed to her. She hopes and expects that the black mark may disappear from her family’s record with time for another generation, her children, to openly pursue what they really want.
Dan with the household of tailors in Hoi An, Vietnam
She disagrees with the government’s approach of punishing children for the “sins” of the parents, believing that all generation should be in charge of themselves and not what of previous generations. Asking the way the Vietnamese experience the war and Americans, she explains that current generations don’t blame Americans today for the bombings and the war of days gone by.
She concludes, “Today and tomorrow are enough.” In conflicted eras and eras of conflict, they are admirable words to call home by. And when their reactions to us as Americans are any indication, the Vietnamese generally – from North to South – certainly may actually live because of it.