December 24, 2001

The Áo dài calendar

Áo dài, the Vietnamese traditional attire, had always fascinated me. I had seen a calendar with ao dai models in one of the travel offices down south in Hue. I made a mental note to buy that calendar before I leave Vietnam. I was in Hanoi at the tail end of my trip. It was nearing the end of the year. Almost every second street vendor was selling calendars.

Hanoi street

I went to a vendor, looked up my phrase-book, and uttered the words, woman, calendar.” The vendor nodded indicating that he understood. He pulled out a calendar from his stack. The calendar featured women all right, but they were not Vietnamese, and they were all bikini-clad.

A passing student volunteered to translate. When the vendor heard what I really wanted, he laughed. He did not stock those any more as according to him they were out of fashion. He said he will try to find one and asked me to return later.

I went back an hour later. The vendor was waiting for me with a wide grin and my Áo dài calendar.

Lady in Áo dài


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