Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Bạn nên đọc đọc trước Readme [eng] để dễ sử dụng hơn.
Hiện Jube đang trong giai đoạn tiếp research về etymology, nhưng còn lâu nữa mới có thể có một kết quả đáng xem để trình làng. Vì khi học về etymology là cả một quá trình nghiên cứu đòi hỏi phải tìm tòi rất mất thời gian. Hơn nữa, những kết quả đạt được chưa chắc là kết quả đúng, và chuyện các nhà ngôn ngữ học luôn tranh luận với nhau về nguồn gốc của các từ ngữ, cách nói cũng là chuyện thường.
Vậy tạm như vậy hén? Như đã nêu ở post trước, nếu bạn có entry to contribute, or comments to make, please feel free to leave me a note.
the Lexicon of Vietnamese words borrowed from French
The Lexicon of Vietnamese words borrowed from French, as far as both idea and content are concerned, is fully my original work. Naturally, various sources have been consulted in the making process thereof, and I continually take inputs from third-parties, with proper citations via the comment system, as I further my studies thereon. The nature of these sources/inputs are such that
1) they are in the public domain from a legal standpoint,
2) I take no responsibility for their accuracy, and
3) I am unable to disclose their identity.
All in all, I am able to neither account for nor verify the authenticity of the lexicon.
Use at your own risk.
The Lexicon is in the format:
[vie]: [frn]: [eng]
where [vie] denotes the Vietnamese word of concern, followed by the French word from which [vie] derives its existence, [frn], followed by the English definition of [vie], denoted by [eng].
Hence, two things to keep in mind: 1) the French word is not necessarily the translation of the Vietnamese word, and 2) the English word is not necessarily the translation of its French counterpart, as origin in no way implies equivalence of meaning.
Sometimes, words in brackets have been added for clarification purposes. Take advantage of them if needed.
In rare cases, two Vietnamese entries share the same French root. In such a case, this sign will be displayed:
redirecting the searcher to the appropriate term.
The lexicon is alphabetized by Vietnamese entries. Please make use your browser's searching capabilities as the primary tool to look up words in the three languages available.
When in difficulty, try a combination of the following:
1) Input another spelling.
2) Eliminate the usage of - (dash). The dictionary is built on the principle that these words are now a part of the Vietnamese language, hence are not transcribed with dashes in the way that recent foreign words are.
3) If you're looking for scientific terms, especially chemical names, simply don't.
4) Further Development
Feel free to contribute via the comment system. I NEED YOUR HELP! When I get enough entries I will load the lexicon onto wikipedia. I'd appreciate it very much if you:
1) Verify the authenticity of your entries.
2) Pre-format your entries to the style mentioned in 2) Format.
3) Try to post as many entries in one comment as possible.
4) Provide ANY additional suggestions. I am pretty much in shallow water at the moment.
I am also working on the etymology of the words, as to one day elevate the lexicon to the status of a dictionary. It will not yield any significant results soon. But we'll see.
~Francophiles of the world, unite!
Read me originally posted on Jan 24, 2007
Last modified, Feb 10, 2007
Lexique des mots vietnamiens provenant du français
Lexicon of Vietnamese words borrowed from French
- x - x - x- x - x- x -
Vietnamese – French – English
alô: allô: hello!, hullo!
amiđan: amygdale: tonsil
amatơ: amateur: amateur
amiăng: amiante: asbestos
ampe: ampère: ampere, amp
an bom: album: album
a-pác-thai: apartheid: apartheid
áp phích: affiche: poster
a ti sô: artichaut: artichoke
át: as (cartes): ace (cards)
a xít: acide: acid
ắc qui: accus, accumulateur: battery (accumulator)
ăng kết: enquête: investigation
ăng lê: anglais: english
ăng ten: antenne: antenna
ba ga: baggage: baggage
ba lô: ballot: bag (schoolbag)
ba lê: ballet: ballet
bazan: basalte: basalt
bazơ: basse: base
băng (đảng, chuyền, cát xét): bande: band
bê tông: béton: concrete
chó bẹc giê: chien de berger: shepherd dog
bi: billes: marbles
bi đông: bidon: water bottle
bi da: billard: pool, billiards
bia: bière: beer
chất bích: => pích
bánh bích quy: biscuit: cookie, biscuit (bánh) quy
boa: pourboire: tip
bom: bombe: bomb
boongke: bunker: bunker
bơ: beurre: butter
bơm: pompe: pump
bu gi: bougie: spark plug
áo bu giông: blouson: leather jacket
bù loong: boulon: bolt
búp bê: poupée: doll
cabin: cabine: cabin
ca bô: capot (d'une voiture): bonnet, hood (of car)
ca cao: cacao: cocoa
ca pô: => ca bô
ca pốt (bao cao su): capote (préservatif): condom
ca ra: carat: carat
ca ra van: caravane: caravan
ca rô: carreau: square, check
ca ta lô: catalogue: catalogue
ca vát: cravate: tie
ca ve: ???: ???
cà phê: café: coffee, café
cà ri: cari (curry): curry
cà rem: crème (de la glace): ice-cream
cà ra vát: => ca vát
cà rốt: carotte: carrot
cà vạt: => ca vát
cao su: caoutchouc: rubber
thùng các tông: carton: cardboard
các-te dầu: carter: oil pan (automobile)
cạc: carte: card
thùng cạc tông: => thùng các tông
cạc vẹc (bằng lái xe): carte verte (permis de conduire): driver's licence
cạc vi zít (danh thiếp): carte de visite: business card
cam: came: cam (rotating disk)
can-ke: calquer: copy, trace
cát xét: cassette: cassette
cátxê: cassé**: price
cátxcađơ (diễn viên đóng thế): cascadeur: stuntman
căng tin: cantine: canteen
compa: compas: compass
bộ com lê: complet (veston): suit
côngtenơ: conteneur: container
công tơ: compteur: counter
quay cóp: copier: to copy
cô ban: cobalte: cobalt
đậu cô ve: haricot vert: French bean
công tắc: contact: switch
cốp xe: coffre: trunk (of a car)
chất cơ: coeur (cartes): hearts (cards)
cu li: coolie: coolie
cua (gái): courtiser: to court, to flirt with
cuarơ: coureur: runner, cyclist
cùi dìa: cuiller, cuillère: spoon
cúp (thể thao): coupe: cup (sports)
cúp (điện): coupe: cut (electricity)
da ua: yaourt: yoghurt
đầm: dame: lady, queen (cards)
đề ba: départ: start
đề-can: décal (décalcomanie): decal (decalcomania)
điêzen: diesel: diesel
đi văng: divan: divan
đoan: douane : customs
đóc tơ: docteur: doctor
(cờ) đôminô: domino: domino
đúp: double: double
ê ke: équerre: scale
ê kíp: equipe: team
nhà ga: gare: (train) station
ga: gaz: gas
ga lăng: Galant: gallant, courteous
bánh ga tô: gateau : cake
găng tay: gant: glove
ghẻ lở: galeux: mangy
đàn ghi ta: guitare: guitar
áo gi lêt: gilet: waistcoast
giăm bông: jambon: ham
gôm: gomme: eraser
hóc môn: hormone: hormone
kaki: kaki: khaki
ka li: kalium: potassium
kích: cric: jack (a car)
La va bô: lavabo: basin/sink
lăng xê: lancée: get started, get going
lô cốt: blockhaus: blockhouse
lôgarít: logarimthe, logarimth
lôgic: logique, logic
len: laine: wool
lít: litre: liter
cú líp: lift (tennis): topspin
líp xe đạp: roue libre: free-wheel
ngủ líp ba ga (exp)
xe lu: road roller: rouleau compresseur
kính lúp: loupe: magnifying glass
ma lanh: malin: cunning
ma nơ canh: mannequin: mannequin
mác-ki: maquille: make-up
áo măng tô: manteau: coat
áo may ô: maillot: undershirt
me! (trong bóng đá): (faute de) main: handball
mét: mètre: meter
mít tinh: meeting: meeting
mìn: mine: mine
môtô: moto: motorbike
mô típ: motif: motif
mù tạc: moutarde: mustard
khăn mù soa: mouchoir: handkerchief
đèn nê ông: néon: neon
chất nhép: trèfle (cartes): clubs (cards)
Nô-en: Noël: Christmas
nơ: nœud: knot, bow
nui: nouilles: noodles
ny lông: nylon: nylon
---O------Ô---ô liu: olive: ô liu
ôxy: oxygène: oxygen
ôtô: auto (voiture): car
pa tanh: patin: roller-skating
pepxin: pepsine: pepsin
pê đan: pedale: pedal
pê đê: pédé**: fag**
pianô: piano: piano
chất pích: pique (cartes): spades (cards)
pin: pile: battery
phéc-mơ-tuya: fermeture: zip
phê thuốc: fait**: high (on drugs)
phích: fiche (prise): plug
phin: filtre: filter
phóc sết: fourchette: fork
phô mai: => phô mát
phô mát: fromage: cheese
(bệnh) poliô: polio(-myélite): polio(-myelitis)
thùng phuy: : drum (container): fût
bánh quy: => bánh bích quy
ra giường: drap: bed sheet
rađiô: radio: radio
đường ray: rail: rail
chất rô: carreau (cartes): diamonds (cards)
nhạc rốc: rock music: musique rock
ru băng: ruban: ribbon
sâm banh: champagne
sâm panh: => sâm banh
séc: chèque: check
séc đấu: set (tennis): set (tennis)
sếp: chef: boss
bệnh si đa: SIDA (syndrome d'immunodéficience acquise): AIDS (acquired immune deficiency
sing gum: chewing-gum: chewing gum
quần sóoc: short: shorts
ghế sôfa: sofa: sofa
áo sơ mi: chemise: shirt
sơ mi rơ mooc: semi-trailer: semi remorques
bánh su: chou: a type of French pastry
súp lơ: chou-fleur: cauliflower
ta luy: talus: talus
tà vẹt: traverse (chemin de fer): railroad tie
xe tắc xi: taxi: taxi
tăng: temps: beat
xe tăng: tank: tank
xe tăng đem (xe đạp): tandem (bicyclette): tandem (bicycle)
tăng đơ: tendeur: adjuster, tensioner: tightener
điệu tăng gô: tango: tango
típ người: type: type
chất tép: => nhép
toalét: toilette: toilet
tôn: tole: sheet metal
tông: ton: tone
dép tông: tong: flip-flop
tông đơ: tondeur: clippers
tua bin: turbine: turbine
tuốc nơ vít: tournevis: screwdriver
tuýp kem: tube: tube
va li: valise: suitcase
va ni: vanille: vanilla
van: valve: valve
điệu van: valse: waltz
rượu vang: vin: wine
vẹc ni: vernis: veneer
viđêo: video: video
viôlông: violon: violin
vít: vis: screw
vô lăng: volant: steering wheel
ghế xa lông: salon (fauteuil): couch
xa tanh: satin: satin
quỷ Xa tăng: Satan: Satan
xà bông: savon: soap
xà lách: salade: salad
quần xà lỏn: sarong: sarong
quả xê ri: cerise: cherry
số xê ri: série: serial number
xi lanh: cylindre: cylinder
(quần) xi líp: slip: underpants
xi nê: ciné: cinema
(đèn) xi nhan: signal: signal
xi măng: ciment: cement
xi mi li: simili: artificial (imitation)
xích lô: cyclo: cyclo
(cái) xô: seau: bucket
xơ cua: secours: spare (extra)
xi phông: siphon: siphon
xi rô: syrop: syrup
xi téc: citerne: tank
xích lô: cyclo: cyclo
xì căng đan: scandale: scandal
xiếc: cirque: circus
xki: ski: skiing
xe xkútơ: scooter: scooter
vải xoa: soie: silk
xốt: sauce: sauce
xơ: soeur: sister (nun)
đồng xu: sou: cent
xu cheng: soutien-gorge: bra
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Among them, I found my Senior Symposium, a set of 15 writing pieces that I made during the last weeks of my senior year. Reading them made me cry. The past has a funny way of making us look stupid by secretly creeping up on us and biting us in the neck when we least expect it.
Then I told myself I have to post these writings up here, because if I'm gonna remember my five years in India at all, it has to be through these writings.
A Diligent Mind
A life, a youth, never ending, never satisfied.
Half a decade of peace and war, of love and hate, of disbelief and faith, of hope and despair...
of light and darkness.
It's a diligent mind, always restless, always doubtful, selfish and compassionate, greedy to attain pleasure for both itself and humanity, a diligent that accepts no limits, a diligent mind that knows no boundaries.
And here it is, it its most general form, fifteen pieces, fifteen aspects, fifteen colors of the same spectrum.
1) In the beginning
- a confused mind at this fearful arrival scene
2) Seasons of Life
- a reflective mind watching the seasons of WS
3) This Endless Walk
- a lethargic mind on an eternal path
4) The population of India
- a witty mind in arts
5) My Hand and Me
- a haughty mind who learns to accept
6) The Golden Prince
- a sarcastic mind through a vilanelle
7) What did I take with me?
- a simple mind at work
8) The Last Goodbye
- a passionate mind in love
9) A Dew that Laughed
- a beautiful mind and nature
- a rebellious mind in thoughts
11) Closing Time
- a doubtful mind in thoughts
12) A letter to a Friend
- a hopeful mind and the future
13) Before Death takes you from it
- a final mind and Life
- a hungry mind in demonstration
(have it hot, preferably by an oven)
A Song for Life
- an inspirational mind
(listen to it while feeling the other minds)
Try to follow the order given (except for the last two items)
Enjoy the minds...!
Now it's heaven or hell...
To a friend who never fails,
So long it has been, hasn't it? I admit I cannot imagine how you look right now. Such long years of separation have completely wiped out any remnant of the vivid pictures of faces and places I once possessed. I apologize for the straightforwardness of my confession.
The time has come for me to leave Woodstock. Yes indeed, half a decade has passed, and once again I find myself standing on an unstable edge, wondering what the purpose of my journey is. Woodstock is past, and Providence unveils to me another vista, a hazy and uncertain world of profuse brutality. I do not know what I will do in such world, where there are no people to shout me to sleep, to walk me to tedious chapels, to wear me the appropriate clothes, day by day. The procedure is long and tiring, and I often find myself revolting against the system, to enjoy a little freedom after each rebellion. But that does not mean I can exclude myself from the Woodstock procedure, because I am afraid of what is not it. Yes I am very afraid of being in such frightful freedom that will be bestowed upon me in the near future.
It seems quite formidable, doesn't it? You need to know that in spite of copious hardship, I will not step back. At this exact moment I feel within me a rising pride that is inexplicably sublime. More than ever I realize that personal responsibility as a student, an adult, a citizen, and a human. The future from here is tough, very tough, and it is about to wink me in the eye, dead. I do not think that ever again will I be able to taste the sweet innocence that lingers about the air here, in Mussoorie, an innocence that refreshes as it refills. In America people cannot feel it. They talk and hope it but cannot live it. They can only compare it to the miserable state in which they are forever entangled. I am about to enter this unfortunate world, and poised to make a difference, to create and preserve, to change and be changed. May your friendship be with me the whole way through because I know not where the light that is supposed to guide me lies.
That's enough for a correspondence, don't you think? Pray keep in touch. You are the only source of support and inspiration I ever have, and it will cost me a great deal of grief if I am deprived of this privilege. Till then, please remember me in your prayers.
A friend who dares to fail
The cheering and congratulations that explode with an incredible momentum seem vague and distant. Beside me, the people, their faces and complexions, look no more interesting than a mass collection of colors and skins hastily squashed together to manage this ill-prepared show. Somehow, I feel sick of the thick air that begins to permeate Parker Hall. Nothing matters anymore. The world is no more than a stale and ghastly ghost floating purposelessly around me. Some guy steps up and reads an inaudible phrase. It must have been the closing ceremony, because people get up, start to cry and hug each other. I remain motionless for a very long time, longer than I have ever been before.
That night, we the seniors gather at Tavern for a final party, before each of us departs for the four corners of the world the next day. There are no teachers, no parents, only Renegades. People dance and smoke, sob and cry, and dance and drink and get drunk to boil away the tears. The nauseating smell of sweet alcohol and salty teardrops and bitter cigarettes pervade the little restaurant. A tasteless feeling creeps up and I feel like throwing up, to faint and disappear.
I rush out to the door. The peaceful air outside is refreshing and sooths the mind. No longer do I feel worries and discontentment. Leaving is difficult only because I have hardly done it before. I feel frustrated, I admit, by the fact that whatever relationships I have built, whatever I have of Woodstock, friends and teachers, memories and experiences, will be crushed by this parting, by a gust of the wind. How much crueler can life be? Yet at same time, another voice within me speaks of reasons and logic. Suffering is not difficult if there were no happiness. Life is not felt and appreciated justly if there were no deaths. Similar, new acquaintances that I make I will infinitely treasure, only by the disappearances of old ones. It is not easy to accept such cold facts, but now I really do, and I crush the sadness of the farewell under the weight of my new life, a life so hysterically and crazily unknown.
Who is God? Where is God? When is God? What is God?
And most importantly, why is God?
It sounds absurd. People talk faith and live faith. They die for the one called God. For him they can kill the most innocent soul. For him they can forgive the most terrifying monster. Why? The question has battled the minds of great philosophers of all time, worn them inside out, and driven them to insanity. Despite the lack of scientific proofs, the notion exists unchallenged until today.
True Christians argue that there is a God because who else could have created this beautiful universe. Furthermore, humans have far fallen from innocence and in their desperate attempt to be loved and accepted, they must seek a source of unconditional grace and mercy, which cannot be found among other humans. This leads them to God. He is like the “ground” concept in Physics: it remains neutral no matter how many electrons are taken out and given in, infinite even. In this way, God soothes the avaricious human appetite that knows no depth in wanting happiness and pleasure. Admitting that they are infinitesimal in the grand scheme of the human destiny, they degrade themselves, bowing down trembling and praying wildly for forgiveness. They call it humility and modesty. I call it cowardice and shame.
Humans are horribly flawed, that is an inevitable fact. Yet just because a person not able to excel in a field, does that mean he must submit to someone else who does it at ease? God is perfect and we are not. So what? While he sits on his glorious throne in a joyful heaven, we run life's hurdles, and we fight and lose and die. While he preaches patience, love and faith, he never really experiences them because he has no flaws. The human race deserves to be in heaven more than he does, by the way we live, struggle, wonder and accept defeat. We are the chosen creatures; we are the precious pearls of the universe which shine a holy light after countless refinements and adaptations. We are the ones.
One day, God will descend from the sky and tell us: “I forgive your sins and trespasses. Now bow down to me and I will take you to heaven. Else you know where you'll go.” Even the most notorious gangster will collapse in fear and speak mechanically of love and faith. Yet there just might be an anonymous guy, a guy who is normally uncaring and indifferent, who replies thus: “No thanks. I like my life the way it is.” To hell he will go, but to humans the fighters—not humans the pleasure seekers—he will be their new God. He deserves it more than anybody else.
I took a stroll about the quiet ground
and there it was! Between the petals of
a rose so young and lovable, it laughed.
Flickering, glittering, a pearl that flashes light
Fragile and oblivious of time's deathtraps,
it smiled me in the eye with wit and care,
a look that sent my mind into the sky
The sun arose, menacingly it shot
its raging fire down the calm and sweet
breath of the peaceful night and burned away
my love, my dear, a dew that laughed.
Still dressed in her pajamas and tired to a pair of sleepy eyes, she looked at me in obvious surprise, contemplating my reason for coming here. In her arms was her all-time-favorite dog, who shied away upon seeing me pushing my head closer to his owner. After a moment of hesitation, she walked towards me, cautiously counting her steps as if treading along a fine line between good and evil. Her delicate eyes wandered wittily. When they met mine, she quickly moved them away, like a jeweler who hid his precious stones at the sight of a suspicious character. To the vulnerable her, I was that suspicious character, evil and unwanted.
“I want to give you this card, in case I don't see you tomorrow,” I said something like that. I cannot remember correctly because the encounter up to that point remains until now a blurry dream to me.
“Oh, thanks,” she took the card, attempting to be natural and casual. Her voice was sweet but hatefully artificial. The first word was drearily separated from the second, and I could feel a powerful tension rising from he response.
“So...any final word before we part forever?” I tried to prolong the half-smashed conversation. She was still looking away, her eyes starring aimlessly at the ground.
“Mmm...have a nice vacation.” Her words reached me almost without effect. I should have known. She was using her usual implicative tone again. Not wanting to crush the already broken heart that burned with me, yet not allowing it to create a more hopeful situation, she left the topic hanging in midair. Simplistically and humbly beautiful as she was, her conscience knew no sympathy, and she was ruthless, torturing my soul without a second thought. I felt hatred engulfing my head, and I wanted to leave.
The sun had risen higher. With a painstaking effort, it shot a ray of light through the foggy sky, across the garden, and this tiny droplet found its place on her cold, emotionless face. Miraculously, the heavenly light gave her visage a new life, and it lit up in a brilliant golden color. Instantly, I found in her cruel look the familiar face I used to love. Yes I found it once again, the playful girl, the thoughtful girl, the girl of the past who died but through the enlightening sun ray appeared again to revive my soul. Her whole body was now endowed with this holy light and she could not keep help turning her head towards me. She was sad but pretty, her indifference has disintegrated, and her breathing deepened. I moved closer and immediately sensed the wonderful smell of her hair, a scent that used to evoke unfathomable madness and drive out the animal instinct in me. Yes, she once was my love, and her wittiness was a double-sided knife, lovable in those days and threatening at this moment. For an instant I felt happy and satisfied to feel the old emotions rising up again. But then I realized that I must leave before she thrust that knife at my heart once more.
“I'll miss you real lots,” I managed a content smile. Before she could impose another tyrannous act, I turned around and started walking blindly, almost stumbling over my own feet. My last goodbye ended like that. As I ran down the pathway, I started to cry, cry because I have lost something I would never regain, and cry because even if I did regain it in the physical sense, it would never want to be mine. She was still in my head, precious, beautiful and wittily brutal, but I was gone from hers forever.
Monday, January 15, 2007
Oh please! Will you STOP flipping that pen? I mean it's the middle of a class for God's sake. Here it goes again, around the middle finger, down across the palm and...up, BEND THE INDEX FINGER! Oops, too late. Where did that pen go? I hate to bend down. It's so hard to maneuver in that tiny space under the table. It's a pain.
Everybody is looking at me with accusatory eyes. It wasn't me! It's the hand's fault. Well, actually no, it doesn't make any sense. Sorry...maybe it was the lunch that has crapped my brain.
Saw that? You almost got me into trouble. It's always YOU! Have you ever done anything good? Say what, you make music? Oh please, on the old piano and the almost-broken guitar. The students don't appreciate those long, tedious pieces of that, how do you call it, Baroque period. And the talent show, you are just lucky. People get excited at times and don't know what they are screaming at; otherwise you'll be of no use except to flip that pen back and forth.
What about me? I'm not sure how much I bring to this place, but certainly more than you do. I make people laugh, well...not ALL the time, sometimes...OK, at least I try to, all right? And then I help my friends do their homework. I mean explain things to them when they don't understand. See, now THAT'S real help. What? You're saying that they don't appreciate, that they're just bored of my babbling? What nonsense, of course they like me, certainly more than a useless hand that can't even cook. Remember that time you made my friends vomit when you put raw eggs into the wai wai? Now that's pretty embarrassing. I wish I have never had you.
What's that? An essay? Unbelievable! This teacher thinks she's all that. All right, let's start. Hey you! Get your butt up and start working. We've got an essay to write man. What? What do you mean “I don't feel like it”? I didn't ask you to feel anything. You are in my control and you do what I say, alright? Now pick up the pen! Oh come on, hurry up! She's looking at me...I don't think she likes this scenario. OK, P.L.E.A.S.E...! I'm sorry about what I said, alright? That was just a joke. I beg you, little hand, I was wrong. Yes, we must live together. Only then can we contribute wonderful things to this school. Please forgive me. Right, thanks man. Now pick up that pen will you? That's right. OK, we will present what we can produce together. Here it goes: I think, you write. Yep, like that. Your swift movement is so beautiful. Capture that magnificient mountain, and early morning, the brilliant sky. I love it, how the words and phrases flow, one after another, in perfect harmony. Soon another hard-worked piece will be completed, and we both can be happy, that, whether it's a description of nature, an argument for a belief, or an explanation of an idea, the people can see that we can understand and sympathize, feel and express, appreciate and repay. That's the most wonderful contribution a student can make to his school.
h d e l
i n s a
s e s w
Mornings up, evenings down,
chapels, exams, from town to dorm;
freezing snow, maddening storm,
still “up you go!” the norm would say.
I know by heart the way:
Monkeys, the leaves, the hays in rows
The chowkidar below,
amidst a land unknown he stands.
I wish to be content
be satisfied and bend with life.
And yet, this path, a strife!
A hopeless road, exile, really.
Mondays, run hastily
to catch the assembly on time
Sundays, something sublime
Chapel awaits, a crime if fails.
I'd rather be a snail
to walk at ease and wail little
than be in the middle
of a mad race that goes around.
Mornings up, evenings down,
this endless walk astounds the world.
In the Beginning
It never stopped raining...and I never stopped crying.
The world was a blur, passing by and floating like a ghost, never affecting me. Even if it did, it was not for a good cause. I was alone in this estranged dream, not knowing whether to cut it short or to prolong it to see the effects.
That dream was Woodstock, and it was scary. As I stood under the roof of my new dwelling and watched the raindrops pour down, beating on the concrete floor of the basketball court like an enraged beast, I thought of what awaited me in the future. Here I was, a helpless boy in his twelfth year of naivety, still fascinated by Captain Planet and such like heroes, and not knowing more than ten English phrases, I must face Life himself and prove myself worthy. But of what? My mind spoke of courage and dignity, yet my heart felt heavy with fear and resignation. It would be a tough fight between the two and no matter which one won, I would be a devastated creature. Such thoughts crept up and gave me the chills.
The car engine creaked, gave a few coughs and jerked forward. As the poor beast ascended the slope reluctantly, my Dad fought his momentum to stick his head out, attempting to convince me that things would be fine. It did not make a difference to me. I was the one in the trap, not him. His wave was unnatural and somewhat suppressed. I sighed in desolation at the thought of being cheated and betrayed by my own Dad. What an evil feeling that was.
“Spacing out or what?” an Indian boy that later on would turn out to be the notorious Karan Madhok endeavored to redeem my soul. I shot backward in surprise and almost fell. The dude stared at me for a few seconds, and gave an evil laugh, which was soon joined by those of my other classmates. “Let's go inside,” they spoke in a voice half inviting and half deceitful. “Hell with it,” I thought in Vietnamese and accepted their offer.
That was how everything began...
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Next good news, the project should be open-sourced. After a while, I will put it on wikipedia for everybody to see, but please keep in mind that the project originates from THIS webpage. Save me some honors. Don't fuck it up by doing immature things (stupid/random addition/removal of words).
Until then, adjustments and suggestions are made via the comment system. Once the project goes under development, feel free to drop me a line if you have a couple of entries to contribute.
As faithfully yours as always,
Jan 05, 2007
Đã từ lâu lắm rồi tôi mới về thăm Việt Nam vào kỳ nghỉ đông.
Đã lâu lắm rồi tôi mới ghé Hà Nội vào mùa rét. Tại sao lại gọi là mùa rét mà không phải là mùa đông? Khi nghĩ về mùa đông, như một kết luật tất yếu, tôi liên tưởng đến những bông tuyết rơi trắng xóa, đến cái lạnh cắt da cắt thịt, đến một gia đình nhỏ quây quần bên bếp lửa hồng, mặc cho ngoài sân gió tháng hai cứ gầm cứ rú buốt thấu đến tận xương tủy, nhìn lên cao những nhánh cây gầy yếu cứ xào xạc, bị gió đánh cho tơi tác, từng chạc một lần lượt rơi xuống chìm vào trong lòng tuyết của vườn nhà mình, để rồi lại bị gió hất bổng lên, mang đi mãi đâu xa, qua bao nhiêu núi đồi, bao nhiêu trăng tròn trăng khuyết đến tận hang đá của Bà chúa tuyết. Đó là hình ảnh về mùa đông trong suy nghĩ của tôi: một hình ảnh mang nhiều ảnh hưởng của phim hoạt hình Mỹ.
Một hình ảnh “hâm hâm,” “tửng tửng,” mơ mộng hão huyền.
Hà Nội thì không có tuyết, nhưng không có nghĩa là không lạnh. Không có nghĩa là sẽ không có một vài bếp lửa hồng được thắp lên đâu đó trong lòng thủ đô đã ngàn năm tuổi.
Em đã cảnh báo trước: “Anh về Hà Nội phải mang theo áo lạnh đấy!” Hay nói đúng hơn, em lên giọng dạy đời tôi bằng tiếng Mỹ: “OK...is this the only sweatshirt you're bringing back?!” Em hỏi tôi bằng một giọng nửa trách móc, nửa âu yếm. Nó giống như là một lời kết tội, một lời đe dọa của tình yêu: “Anh mà ốm là em không lo được đâu!”
Em sẽ không bao giờ phải lo đâu, để anh lo cho em.
Trẻ con vậy đấy, cứ cười đi.
Đêm hôm đấy, hai đứa yêu nhau lần cuối. Tôi yêu em một cách giận dữ, thêm một ít ghen tuông và một ít hờn dỗi. Rồi tôi nhìn em nằm cuộn tròn trong cái túi ngủ xanh màu biển mà mẹ đã mua từ Nhật tự bao giờ. Tôi nhìn em mơ ngủ trong ánh sáng mờ ảo tỏa ra từ ngọn nến ở cuối phòng.
Nhìn em hoài như vậy, anh chợt thấy người mình nhẹ hẳn.
From the PA system, some lousy air stewardess announced in a heavily-accented and barely recognizable English: “Passengers with connecting flights to HCM City please redirect to gate A8.” A8...A8...from the depth of my sleep, this word, this...code name, whatever it is supposed to be called, merged itself subconsciously, almost mechanically, into the buzzing traffic going through the neurons of my brain. Oh great! I have about 30 minutes to make the transfer. As soon as the plane landed, I rushed out.
Kaisen Airport, Taipei. The place was almost deserted when I arrived. Many corridors and escalators later, I found myself walking into A8. Ten minutes until boarding time.
As I entered, a violent desire to throw up came over me. Within a split of a second, my knees gave way, and I tumbled desperately towards the handrail of the stair, struggling to keep myself upright. A nauseating feeling of disgust surged up my throat. What the hell is this? Why am I feeling so grossed out all of the sudden? It can't be the food I ate. Nor can it be the motion sickness. I haven't had motion sickness for years.
After a minute of self-reflection, I came to the disheartening conclusion that it must be the Vietnamese crowd which I find myself surrounded by. I realized how much I hated my country. Or rather, I hated the fucking people who inhabit that place. I hated those lousy housewives, cowardly fathers and annoying grannies that swarm every fucking airport within a 500-miles radius of the Vietnamese border. Why the fuck do the grannies care which university I attend or whether I double (or triple, aha! that's their favorite) major? Why the fuck do they freak out when I tell them that I have no fucking idea what I want to do after graduation? After all, I am not their grandchild to pet, to scold and to prize over. As for the men who engross most of their time exchanging unconfirmed rumors about the State or derogatory remarks about the world at large, their dilemma is never one between word and action. It is a no-contest between word and no-action-at-all. Instead of searching for the culprit within their own souls, these men look outwards, yearning to feast on the littlest fault—the slightest sign of a feeble mind—they could find in others in order to reconstruct for themselves, out of thin air, the Ego that has long since left their insecure hearts.
As for the housewives, why did they have to be so loud? “Thà phải nghe nhạc death-metal còn hơn là phải nghe mấy bà bán cá bán tôm này,” I mumbled in Vietnamese and pushed the headphone into my ears.
Then I realized that something was wrong.
In fact, it is this statement's negative interrogative form that is what I have been asking myself during the entire journey. “Why isn't something wrong...yet?” Knowing my history of forgotten air-tickets and am-pm confusion (let's also not leave out the infamous over-estimation of the time interval between each subway train in the city of Hamburg during the Spring of 06), I was amused by the fact that I have not encountered a single problem this time around...yet.
The realization came almost naturally and painlessly.
The housewives were speaking in a Southern accent. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. Originating from the North, I have always been proud to be a Saigonese, and the ability to imitate the three accents were among my proudest childhood achievements (until I went to concentration camp in fucking India and never spoke a word of Vietnamese again...for a very long time). Normally, listening to these people would have instantaneously created an artificial lump in my throat that served as the harbinger of what I would soon have to accustom my ears to listen to at home. But heck no! This time I'm going to Ha Noi, no? And I don't have to deal with those “Hổng dzám đao” and “Thiệc là dzễ ghéc” until after the 6th.
Then why the fuck am I sitting here, surrounded by uncivilized clones of the South?
Ah merde...c'est foutu, ça ! I remembered that PA announcement on the plane. This one is going home. And I'm not ready to go home yet.
I ran. While my feet bounced in increasing frequency against the shiny floor of various corridors that seemed to stretch forever, my eyes screened the two walls parallel to the walkways in a frantic attempt to distinguish announcement boards from NIKE commercials. Normally I'd go on bragging about how good I am with multi-tasking and working under stress, but let's just say I got to the correct gate before the plane departed. As usual (and no less fortunately), the flight was late, and I dropped my caffeinated body onto a waiting chair in exhaustion (and no less relief), ready to go into the sweetest coma of my life.
And then I realized (this must be the sixth realization within a day now), that I was now surrounded by two swarms of Vietnamese.
As it turned out, the gate adjacent to mine also led to another flight to Vietnam, this time to Sai Gon. And it just so happened that from where I was sitting, I found myself sandwiched between two hordes of compatriots: Southern on the right, and Northern on the left. The irony of the situation was unprecedented: Dealing with “Thàng nhỏ....nàm yêng, tao guýnh chết cha mài bai dzờ!” was already borderline bearable, except in the case where it was topped with the following conversation (more or less accurately paraphrased) between two men of considerable age dressed up in funny attires that looked like they they were produced in motherland Russia in the 60s, their hands promptly glued onto their crossed legs. Their hair, originating mostly from the very top of their head, was neatly side-parted, and reflected as much light as Bà chúa tuyết's mirror.
Thế thằng cha Nam cuối cùng không qua được à...Qua làm thế nào được, tôi đã bảo ông giồi còn gì nữa, bọn nó cứ khư khư không chịu giả lại hộ chiếu thế thì lão ấy đành phải nằm chết gí ở đấy chứ còn xao nữa...Thế có gọi được cạ ra đón không...Giời! Nước đến chân giồi mới nhảy thì cạ nào mà cứu cho được, đã bảo là chi tiền ngay từ đầu thì có phải đã chơn chu giồi không...Thế à, tế tế tế cuối cùng thì làm thế nào...Còn thế nào nữa, lão đành xòe ra tờ nghìn giúp cho nó êm chuyện. Thằng công an, thằng oắt con, nhìn thấy ông Việt Nam chi tiền là mắt nó xáng lên, đóng giấu một phát giồi cho qua luôn!
I sank my head in despair. God...please save me from this boredom, lift me up and away from this mediocrity (and also, please spare me their pronunciation confusion of ‘d,’ ‘r’ and ‘gi,’ ‘s’ and ‘x,’ etc.)! How many times have I heard this sort of conversation before, and why is it that it all sounds the same to me? These people talk about corruption as if it is man's second nature, as if they can't live with it at the same time that they can't live without it. Corruption as the devil's advocate's argument in favor of the inevitable process of income redistribution from the class that owns the means of production to the class that regulates those means. Corruption as a dysfunctional child who happens to be born so purely out of romantic fortuities and genetic randomness, who saddens at the same time as it confuses its parents: the latter hold the former in their hands, trembling, sweating, screaming at fate's cruelty; they detest the child whom they bore, yet cannot possibly think of abandoning it. And so they learn to adapt to it, to satellite their lives around it, to melt decades of anger and pain into an indifferent shrug of resignation and nostalgia every time they overhear indistinct whispers peppered with tiny outbursts of giggles behind their backs. It is their curse at the same time as it is their Grand March. It is the kitsch of parenthood.
Excuse me for the heavy allusion to “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” 13 hours on a transpacific flight has given me more time than I wanted to undertake ambitious reading projects.
I have previously mentioned the reason why I am contemptuous towards Southern men. I guess It must be the same for their Northern counterparts. It is a blatant and perverse deliberation in mistaking a simple choice between word and no-action for a the noble dilemma between word and action. Oh, how these men are alike in their thought process!
Then my own thought process went berserk. As my soul wandered aimlessly in the realm of unspoken words, I came yet to another realization. It isn't so much the fact that these people are abnormal in their ways. After all, they feel perfectly at home: they are at home, and so does everyone else who interact with them. It must be I who am abnormal. It is I who have been out of touch with realities since that time I went to concentration camp in India. It is I who need counseling.
Such a thought saddened me. Oh how I longed to be like them! How I covet their Vietnamese identity, their complacency, their uniformity! A rat that runs the wheel of a gigantic machine, isn't it a perfectly normal existence, if not better than mine, if I am anything other than just another rat, at all? “...mistaking a simple choice between word and no-action for a the noble dilemma between word and action.” ~ look who's talking? I'm sitting here like a loser, trying to waste my time and and short-circuit a couple more neurons in my brain, knowing perfectly well that I can influence neither the events leading up to nor those originating from the present trend of Vietnamese masculine thought.
To prevent myself from going crazy, I tried to shut off these ideas from my brain, and started looking at the people around me. They looked Vietnamese enough, and the two groups were sitting in their respective camps, which greatly reassured me. There was a group of five on my right, where a middle-aged woman practically shouted out for everyone to hear: “Cháo gởi cho cô qua đường...đái đái...ngời ta gọi là U-pê-ét ái...địa chỉ là mục trong năm mươi Mít-đờ-bô-rô A-vê-niu, thành phố Xăng-hô-giê.” The listener, of a considerably-younger age, tuned in attentively, not forgetting to demonstrate her attention by nodding once in a while. Two rows down and five seats away on my left, the two Lomonosov graduates continued their heartbreaking story of Vietnamese people suffering from discrimination and authority abuse in Russia. Naturally enough, the term 'cạ' appeared every five words or so. Perhaps some of you do not know what this word means. Perhaps some of you do not know the term' 'vẹm' either. They are words that only certain groups of people, very peculiar ones, will have ever come across.
I remembered a scene from the movie デド’・オア・アライブ：犯罪者 (Dead or Alive: Criminal) directed by 隆三池 (Takashi Miike). The main protagonist, Yojima, a cop on the chase of a Chinese-origin criminal, Ryu, interrogates two thugs of the street about what they think of Ryu. They say he is their hero. In the end, the cop asks them: “Who the hell are you guys anyways,” to which they reply: “Who are we? We look Japanese, but we aint. We look Chinese, but we aint. What are we, eh? It's a tough question.”
They are what I will refer to as the rootless people. Like me, they struggle to define themselves. Like me, they will never fit in. Like me, they will look at those who are supposedly their people, and feel a mix of indifference and alienation, only because they have been uprooted from their homeland, by force or by free-will, and have adopted a second, or a third, identity, none of which will ever be complete.
The rootless people wander at the margin of society. The are the first to ask for directions. They are the last to get the joke. The first to fall asleep watching the local news, and the last to leave when world events are being discussed. The rootless people knows no Bob's Underground, and will nervously sit at a Starbucks when chance presents itself to them. Anywhere they go, they will act either like a tourist or an illegal immigrant. Anyone they meet, they will hesitate between different modes of greetings. They will never fully master a language the way they see the lines on their palm. They spend ages dreaming about a culturally-rich family built from their bare hands, about children who speak four or five different tongues since birth. They then spend even more time getting depressed about how to find a partner who will fit nicely in their scheme of things. They have trouble imagining such a partner. Will he/she be a rootless person like themselves, for who else understands their crisis better than one of their own kind?
It is the Vietnamese people who have been uprooted to Russia who will understand the word “cạ.” Similarly, those who arrived in the U.S. on a boat will never forget the word “vẹm.”
THE DICHOTOMY OF CẠ AND VẸM
CẠ: Cờ a ca nặng cạ
từ lóng chỉ người môi giới lao động Việt Nam đi xuất ngoại ở Nga. Cạ lo từ A đến Z: từ giám sát việc ký kết hợp đồng lao động, xin VISA, mua vé máy bay, cho đến đút lót hải quan và đưa đón ở sân bay Nga. Còn được gọi là 'cò Xô' hay 'cò Nga.'
VẸM: E mờ em, vờ em vem nặng vẹm
từ lóng dùng để chỉ bộ đội Việt Minh trước năm '54 nói riêng, và những ai ủng hộ Bắc Việt ('54-'75) và Đảng Cộng Sản Việt Nam ('75 đến nay) nói chung. Được dùng chủ yếu bởi người dân miền Nam trước năm '75 và cộng đồng người Việt tỵ nạn Cộng Sản ở hải ngoại sau năm '75. Xuất xứ từ tên tắt của Việt Minh là VM, đọc theo tiếng Pháp là Vê-em.
In this one eventful day, I witnessed the two terms coming to a violent collision: cạ on my left, and vẹm on my right. I was at the exact point of impact. I, a rootless Vietnamese, symbolically (and symmetrically) formalized the split of my own nation, a nation that I myself struggled everyday to understand. The thought of such a metaphor nearly made me sob. Did Vietnam's history have to be this way? Surely we weren't the first to descend into civil war, and from a certain angle, our story had a better conclusion than most others. I mean, the Irish and the Koreans are still fighting internally, and China never gave up its claim over Taiwan. Unlike them, we successfully reunited, albeit having to pay dearly with our own blood and tears.
And it all had to start with the French.
Ah oui les français, le peuple le plus cultivé, le plus sophistiqué, la civilisation exemplaire de l'Europe. Les français qui se croyaient chargé par Dieu de garder le continent en équilibre, pendant plusieurs siècles, contre le vieux Saint-Empire et la nouvelle puissance Britannique. Les français qui vantaient d'être la dernière monarchie absolue, entourée par des petites républiques dont ils se moquaient car ces dernières manquaient de la religion et d'une histoire de gloire. C'est les mêmes français qui, quelques décennies après, se sont révoltés contre cette monarchie lumineuse pour descendre à la Terreur, à l'obscurité totale. Ils parlaient de la solidarité humaine, criaient « Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité ! » à haute voix en même temps qu'ils réduisaient quasiment une moité de l'Afrique et de l'Asie en esclavage. Ce sont des français dont j'ai lu dans les textes d'histoire et de politique.
Et puis, il y a les français qui sont toujours « à la mode ». Les français qui sont obsédés avec leur vin, leur fromage et leur pot-au-feu, et qui se méfient constamment de la mal-bouffe. Les français qui mettent toujours le pain directement sur la table et qui ne peuvent pas habiter sans leur baguettes. Si par hasard vous fréquentez un trottoir quelque part en Europe, et que vous voyiez une vieille femme marcher dans la pluie, une baguette à la main gauche et la parapluie à la main droite, et qu'il y ait personne d'autres...vous devez être en France.
Et la vieille femme doit être française.
Seulement les français peuvent avoir une telle fidélité à leur culture et à leur mode de vie. Seulement les français peuvent promener leur chien tous les jours avec une ponctualité et une vitesse qui dépassent même la monotonie d'une semaine de travail à New York. N'oublions pas non plus la devise hilarante de la campagne contre l'excrétion publique des animaux domestiques : « J'aime ma ville, donc je ramasse. » Très français ce truc, non ?
Et puis il y a les filles françaises qui sont toujours radieuses, qui se donnent tous les temps des gros bisous et un grand sourire. Ah les bisous ! Comme cela me manque beaucoup ! Paris, ville de lumière, toujours radieuse, toujours majestueuse, je te fais le plus gros bisou du monde !
Ce sont les français que j'ai vus avec mes propres yeux. C'est difficile à croire que leur ancêtres ont commis des crimes d'une telle atrocité, celles qui va absolument à l'encontre de leur principe de la solidarité universelle. Ce sont des crimes dont les conséquences ne peuvent être ni mesurées ni compensées. Comment est-ce que cela s'est fait? On était plein dans la Révolution industrielle, à l'apogée du progrès scientifique. On trouvait l'optimisme partout. Pourquoi alors ? Pourquoi cette retour au barbarisme contre quoi les européens ont battu courageusement pendant des siècles avec toute leur énergie ?
Je me pose une question hypothétique : si la France n'a jamais colonisé le Vietnam, existerait-il encore cette dichotomie entre « cạ » et « vẹm » ? Serait-je encore le symbole de cet abîme entre les deux ?
Peut-être, car les Anglais se sont tenus prêts à prendre possession de l'Indochine. Mais regardez la Thaïlande ! Comment s'est fait-t-elle pour s'en sortir ? Ne serait-il possible que la même stratégie eut marché pour le Vietnam aussi ? On ne sait jamais. Car l'histoire n'existe pas à travers une récurrence éternelle. On n'a pas d'occasion de tester les hypothèses variés pour trouver une solution optimale aux problèmes du monde. L'histoire est une répétition dont il n'y pas de spectacle. On la voit telle quelle.
Mais lorsqu'on est dans le domaine des hypothèses, explorons un peu cette idée : si la France n'a jamais conquis le Vietnam, la culture vietnamienne serait vastement différente de ce qu'on voit aujourd'hui. C'est une pensée effrayante !
Hãy trở về với tiếng Việt một chút. Nếu đế quốc đã không xâm chiếm Việt Nam, cuộc sống của ta sẽ khác như thế nào? Không thể kể hết được, nhưng chỉ nói đến văn hóa ẩm thực thôi thì đã thấy tiếc như thế nào rồi. Đế quốc đã mang đến cho chúng ta:
1. Bánh mỳ kiểu Pháp
3. Sữa chua (da-ua)
4. Bánh Flan
5. Bánh ga-tô
8. Bánh su
9. Xúp lơ
và không thể không kể đến:
10. Bộ thìa, nĩa và dao ăn
Bạn sẽ nói, gớm, làm gì mà quan trọng thế? Không có Pháp thuộc thì rồi đến một lúc nào đó nhứng của ngon vật lạ này cũng sẽ di nhập vào Việt Nam. Bạn có chắc không? Bạn có đồng ý là món yaourt là một loại thức ăn rất ngon và bổ dưỡng không? Bạn đi hầu hết các nước trên thế giới sẽ thấy đều có bán yaourt. Thế nhưng bạn sẽ khó có thể tìm được môt siêu thị ở Hoa Kỳ nào mà có bán hơn 3 loại yaourt đóng trong những cái hộp nhỏ xinh xinh, có vị hoa quả mà bạn thường hay mua ở Việt Nam. Vậy mà nước Mỹ vẫn tự coi mình là cái “nồi văn hóa” của thế giới đấy. Tiếp đến, nếu bạn có đến Pháp thì hãy hỏi bất cứ một người Pháp nào xem món ăn truyền thống của người Pháp là món gì. Sẽ có chín trên mười người trả lời: “C'est la crêpe!” Xin tạm dịch đây là món bánh xèo Pháp. Nhưng tôi đoán chắc ở Việt Nam bạn chưa bao giờ được ăn món này. Ta tự hỏi người Pháp đã làm gì trong bao nhiêu năm thống trị Việt Nam mà lại không truyền lại cho chúng ta món ăn danh tiếng này.
Vậy cho nên tôi kết luận, văn hóa thế giới di nhập không theo một quy luật nào và rất khó đoán trước.
Encore une fois, l'idée de la récurrence éternelle est en jeu. On a beau faire des conjectures à propos des possibilités différentes résultant d'un changement de notre choix préexistant, on ne peut rien conclure car personne ne peut transformer ces possibilités en une réalité. Il faut finalement se contenter de ce qu'on a fait. Nos actions ne perdent pas leur signifiance parce qu'on ne sait pas si elles sont bien faites. Au contraire, nos actions gagnent plus de signifiance à cause de leur unique occurrence.
In the movie Monty Python and the Life of Brian, the main character joins an underground resistance group in the struggle against the Roman occupiers. At one point, the leader affirms that in order to truly fight the Romans, Jews need to recognize that they are very bad people. He thus asks his troops to state one good thing that the Romans ever did for the Holy Land. One guy said: “Schools?” The leader looks at him dumbfounded, then restates his question, adding “beside schools” in the end. Another soldier says “the aqueduct,” then another adds “paved roads.” Then the rest joins in with “public health care,” “welfare,” “the arenas,” “delicious Roman food” etc. Each subsequent time the leader has to ask again and again, excluding all of the aforementioned benefits at the end of his question.
Similar to the story of Israel, Vietnam has much suffered because of the French occupation. Today's animosity between Vietnamese at home and abroad is among the more visible problems remaining. Yet, we cannot negate the benefits that the collision with Europe in general, and Imperial France in particular, has brought us. Thanks to this encounter, we are among the culturally richest countries on earth. In the kitchen we are at the very top, that's for sure. The fact that we have no clue as to how such an impact could have played out differently, or not at all, is what makes its development all the more interesting.
This is why such a geographic division between North and South, this Vietnamese kitsch, is both our curse and our Grand March. I told myself, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
Contenting myself with this conclusion, I boarded my flight.
Three hours later, I called my baby from the airport.