Fat is in, baby. Here in Vietnam it’s the fatter, the better. At least that’s what I hope is going on. You see, size is an issue for me here. The scale of my life is quite simply bigger than the average Vietnamese. I need a bigger chair; a bigger dress; bigger shoes. It’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland, although the rabbits are less concerned with time. And size is a repeat topic of conversation between me and my Vietnamese friends.
In Vietnam you call it as you see it, and polite conversation has different rules. Standard greeting questions are, What is your name? Are you married? How old are you? Instead of beating around the bush like we do back home, they cut straight through the nonsense. No harm meant. Chit-chat also takes unusual turns. You look so tired! You look so much better last time! You should get married soon or you will be too old to have children. It takes some getting used to, but at least you know it’s genuine, and it makes the positive remarks all the more meaningful. On days when I’m told I look good, I strut my stuff knowing it must be true. On days when I’m told I look bad…well, it keeps me humble.