Saturday, February 18, 2006

Orchids and other things

Carol has long been fascinated with orchids and has, in the past, purchased several at rather high cost with mixed(actually uniformly unsatisfactory) results. Just before the Tet celebration, she felt that a stop at the Flower Market was warranted in order to purchase one of the hybrid plants she had seen around town. It was less expensive by far than the ones purchased in the US, so she had little hope that it would bloom at all, let alone flourish. If you view the attached picture, you will see that this one is so beautiful!!!
If we knew what made this one do well, we would buy a dozen and start a business. Regardless, we are pleased to have the Hoa Lan(Vietnamese for orchid) living in our midst and bringing pleasure to all who see it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

So, what shall I call you?

In the US, there is often a problem as to what to call your in-laws. In an effort to make you feel welcome in their family some people tell you to call them "Mom and Dad." This usually feels wrong, as you often have a perfectly good set of those already. People often use "Mother Smith" or "Pop Jones" when addressing their spouse's parents. First names may feel too familiar, while to call these people "Mr. and Mrs. Goodman" for twenty-plus years seems a touch too Victorian. Of course, if you always look straight at a person and his hearing is good, you can get by without calling him anything at all!

In Vietnamese, the problem does not occur as there is a complicated hierarchy of what to call parents, grandparents and in-laws. So there are words for "father of my wife" etc. that make it easy.

The concept of "brother-in-law" covers several types of people in the US-husband of my sister, brother of my wife, and husband of my wife's sister. Here in Vietnam there are different words for each of the above people thus avoiding(?) confusion. We also find words to denote "father or mother's elder brother" "wife of father's elder brother" and "mother's younger brother." Learning all of these degrees of consanguinity is likely impossible and probably of little value anyway. Yet Ira persists and one day will be able to introduce Sue, Don, Lee and all of the others to some Vietnamese friend who will smile, nod and actually understand.