“Awplet,” I say to the lady standing behind the counter, Lonely Planet Vietnamese phrasebook in hand. “Awwwwp leeet,” I try again, enunciating a word I don’t have the slightest idea how to pronounce.

“No no,” she insists, raising her hands to her head and waving them as the Vietnamese do when saying no.

“No awplet?”

Hands waving.

Didn’t Hanh tell me that this was the place where they could make omelettes?

I persist, this time trying a different tact: “Uh… omelette?”

“Eh….?” She says.

I start using my hands. How do you use your hands to describe an omelette? I’m reminded of my days playing charades with my friends at Amherst. I was never very good.

Suddenly she starts waving and pointing behind me. I turn around and see a man running towards me. “You need help?” he asks in broken albeit entirely understandable English. Where did this guy come from?

“Yeah I was just wondering if they have omelettes here,” I say.

“Uh…” he responds, and says something to the Vietnamese lady I’ve been communicating with. They go back and forth.

“How many eggs you want?”

“Uhm, three?”

“Ok, they get it for you.”

“Thanks!” I say, amused. The English speaker who comes out of the woodwork has grown to be a theme. I love it even though it makes me feel silly.

As I walk away I notice the lady to whom I made my order loudly talking to a young girl I take to be her daughter. She hands the girl money, and suddenly the girl goes dashing across the street laughing. A few seconds later she comes back to her mom and explains something. Her mom shakes her head and sends the girl off in another direction. After about a minute she comes back with a bag. Strangely, the contents of the bag appear to be small and round, just the right size and shape for, say, three eggs.

A few minutes later a waitress emerges and hands me my plate of eggs. I notice that she too is laughing.

And then I understand: Hanh told me that they could serve me eggs here; different, I realize, than that they did serve eggs here.


Post by our teacher in Long Xuyen, Nick Schcolnik.

Original blog post from http://nicksexcellentadventures.wordpress.com/