June 8-10. Calm days in a vibrant city.

We will be back! Mrs. Chinh has given us the address of a school that we visit today.

We take a taxi there, and as the driver was a little challenged by the address on the paper we handed to him, we could enjoy a fair bit of the backstreets of district four, HCMC.

The school is small and underfunded. We shake hands with the headmistress, introduce ourselves and ask what we can do. She has thought of something and explains us: they want to reuse the schoolbooks (they are allowed too by the ministry) and have to clean them up. We agree to work on this and we carry stacks of stained secondary grade English textbooks into the classroom in order to go through them with a strong eraser and ink killing pen. It is a lenghty job, but we enjoy it, chatting with the director meanwhile and suggesting to expand the little school library. This will be my alibi to sneak out with her and get one million worth of books. Yeon agrees to stay at the school and erase the drawings, exclamations, and ticked boxes from a few dozen more textbooks.
The director takes me on her motorbike to the area where all the bookshops are. We visit three of them, and get a pile of bilingual storybooks,, five dictionaries, several smaller textbooks, a copy of an Austen novel, and more. The books are presented to the other staff and they seem happy with them. Even though it is just a donation, I feel like we have really done something here.

We are hosted by a wonderful German lady, Marianne, who is teaching German to expatriate children here in HCMC. On the first night, she takes us to a very nice restaurant and we have a good time. Her hospitality has no limits: we feel at home as soon as we get there because she is so kind.

We visit a dance show the next day, in the city’s main concert hall, that resembles a similar venue in Berlin or Paris to such an extend that really amazes me. The dance itself, a modern piece about attachment and detachment, isn’t that inspiring but that doesn’t matter.

Three muslim girls from Indonesia arrive at Marianne’s place. It is their first time to travel abroad, and they look very excited. We get along well the house is a merry place now what do we do on the tenth? I don’t know and owe you this one. Maybe it is the tenth that we eat out at a nightmarket, ordering some simple streetfood, or maybe it is today that we hang out in a coffee place working on our corner of the internet, or it is the day when I venture out to get a takeaway coffee and a loaf of bread, returning with only the former in ridiculous quantities to compensate for the absence of the latter, or maybe the tenth is when we decide not to visit the war musuem with the American tank and heavy artillery in the garden, or it is when I read a bit in a praised German novel about Alexander von Humboldt, or …

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

One thought on “June 8-10. Calm days in a vibrant city.”

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