Travel & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Sometimes not.
I have known for a while that I have gradually become a little on the chunky side. But if motivation to get rid of my extra weight was needed, it came in excess the other day while walking along a Hanoi street.
I happened to be wearing a t-shirt that’s maybe a little unflattering now, especially around the middle. Anyhow, I was busy minding my own business when I notice this old couple walking towards me. The old boy was smiling widely at me as they got closer.
I had a good look at his face and decided I didn’t know him. Then as we met on the pavement he proceeded to prod my stomach (as if I were a fat Buddha that gets rubbed for luck) and said, “Đẹp, đẹp.”
All I could do was laugh it off, and tell him it was a “bụng bia” (beer belly) which seemed to amuse him even further as he grabbed my hand to shake it.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt and concluded he was “nhà quê” (a countryman) and hadn’t seen too many chubby foreigners before. That said, it was just another example of Vietnamese people being disarmingly honest. More than a few people have jokingly asked me if I am pregnant, or expecting twins.
I usually respond, “I can go on a diet and lose weight. You will always be short.”
And then I am told I am being mean. As if telling someone they are fat or pregnant is somehow perfectly acceptable. I am fat and don’t care all that much.
However, the banter is becoming a tad repetitive so I have hit on the idea of getting a t-shirt printed with the following:
Tôi không mập. Chỉ là người ta dễ thấy tôi hơn thôi. Và họ khó bắt cóc tôi nữa.
I am told it is close as you can get in Vietnamese to, “I am not fat. I am easy to see. And difficult to kidnap.”
A bit wordy, for sure, but I am probably wide enough to cope with the text. Now all I need to do is find xxxl t-shirt printing street. Or head to the gym.