“Super cute” Gabby

Traditional Vietnamese Dinner

At a rooftop café, overlooking the picturesque Kiev Lake, whilst downing spring rolls and calamari with our chopsticks, we met a little Vietnamese waitress who stared unashamedly, doting on us. Her English, self-given name was “Super cute” Gabby, and she insisted on braiding our hair- mid spring roll, sweet chili sauce dripping down our chins- speaking to us, quite eloquently, in her school learned English. She was 18, absolutely tiny and adorable, and completely entranced by us American giants. She invited us to her house for dinner with her family and we happily obliged. We hopped on a spasmodic bus that took us about 15 minutes from the city center, to its outskirts. Her house was an antiquated, three story house, where shoes were immediately discarded because the first floor constituted the living room—the floor being the dining table. Gabby’s mother said hello to us, “xin chao” and continued cooking in the little kitchen. She did not speak a lick of English so Gabby translated throughout. On a platter, set on the floor in which we all gathered around in a circle, was a traditional Vietnamese dinner prepared for us, complete with a huge pot of white sticky rice, some sort of spinach in a clear broth, onions and beef with chili, and fatty pork. It was delicious and we washed it all down with warm Hanoi beers, while thanking her mom a hundred times, “Cam Un” (the only other word we knew in Vietnamese). We retired to Gabby’s room, which consisted of a desk and a mattress with a hard bamboo covering to sleep on. Oh… and a fan, cause no need for air conditioning in the blazing heat of late summer. Gabby sang English songs to us and showed us her aid in helping her learn English: a notebook filled with pages and pages of handwritten song lyrics. We left full and beautified—Summer got a big bow in her hair which magically disappeared 3 minutes later, and headed to a café where alcohol was not available on the menu, and the locals fought to sing karaoke all night… sober. Summer coined the perfect phrase to encapsulate the scenario of the evening. “All Asians can either sing really well, or think that they can.” Gabby was the cutest little adopted sister we could have asked for (sandwiched in between us, coming to about our mid torsos) and held our hands, played with our hair, and sung to us all night.

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