Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

In Vietnam and Pravin the Lemonade Maker

Hello All! I am currently resting in Vietnam after my psychotic adventure in Russia and Ukraine. I will write a full update on that later, but right now I just wnated to check in and say hello. What's funny8 about me checking in and saying hello is that I can't actually read the comments anyone posts until I get back toTaiwan in three days because, as far as I can tell, the communist Vietnamese government has blocked all blogspot addresses. hysterical.

anyway, yesterday i slept for 7 hours midday after going for 11 sleep deprived days with the girls all over kingdome come and having a particularly grueling last day in which I made what I believe to be a first-of-its-kind voyage across moscow from SVO airport to DDO airport, roughly 100 miles away from each other on opposite sides of the city. While I did feel like a hairy, yawping explorer, I also felt like it took me 5 hours to get from one airport to the other in order to save 100 dollars. and guess what? it did.

On my flight to hanoi yesterday I sat next to an absolutely precious girl with an enormous smile named Pravin. Get this, she's a Punjabi girl raised in Malaysia and now attending medical school in some assbackward town in Russia called Kursk, which is a 9 hour bus ride away from Moscow. That is what I love most about traveling: the crazy interesting people you meet. Anyway, this adorable girl kept smiling at me from across the seat and finally asked to switch with the Vietnamese guy in between us so she could talk to me. She said she had wanted to talk to me the whole flight, but it was too hard to talk over the guy in the middle. I thought this meant she had some pressing question to ask me. But she didn't, so for about 15 minutes we sat awkwardly as I tried to figure out why exactly she had traversed the seat to come talk to me. Maybe, for instance, she wanted to ask to marry me for a visa like my Ukrainian cab driver Bogdan did, and like my aeroflot seatmate, pavel, did, and like the guys outside of my hotel here in Hanoi did(technically they asked if I was single and wanted a *wife*, which i thought was quite an interesting proposal and broadminded even for communists). But she just wanted to talk. Little did she know that she is far more interesting than myself. She goes to medical school in Russia with about 40 other malaysians because it is cheaper than in malaysia or India (who knew?). She simultaneously takes classes in Russian language and also take science classes taught in Russian, which sounded horrific to me and I told her so. She said it was indeed difficult, but actually maybe it was good because it would really force her to learn russian. and maybe if she learns russian well enough people will be nicer to her, because now people are not nice or friendly at all and her only recourse is to form alliances and family bonds with fellow persecuted international students. anyway, she said she attends class roughly from 9am-7pm daily and cant go outside when it is dark because she might get "whacked" which does not exactly mean "killed" like it would on the sopranos, but does indeed mean beaten, the literal meaning of whacked. And this is because the Russian boys hate foreigners, darker skinned foreigners especially. And she said that they knew when they needed to run away because the boys' faces would get red and you would know they had been drinking and were probably angry--and since russians start drinking at roughly 9am and carry open cans and bottles of alcohol wherever they go, i assume this isnt a rare occurrence. some of her classmates have already been beaten and had their teeth knocked out and neither the police nor the doctors cared enough to do anything about it. so she lives in fear in some godforsaken Russian city thousands of miles and an opposite climate away from her family, whom she seems not to blame for forcing her to go to russia to be a doctor. and she feels grateful that she has met a punjabi boyfriend at school because her parents arent cool with her marrying a nonpunjabi boy, and indeed her sister has become serious with a malaysian boy who is not punjabi and they arent sure her dad will let her get married. Pravin knows that this is unreasonable but seems to be taking it in stride and says she will be different when she is a parent, but for now respects that her parents are "traditional". One of her uncles has already married a chinese malaysian woman and they have had babies who are "damn cute" according to Pravin. Pravin's mom is a schoolbus driver and Pravin loves playing with all the kids. She wants to be a surgeon, and I told her she could be a children's surgeon and she said "why not?"! If she lives through her stint in medical school, of course. She is very excited about the prospect of going to Punjab when she graduates in 6 years as her present from her parents. she is going to see a golden temple in amritsar. anyway, i felt that this little girl was teh most adept person I'd ever seen at making lemonade when life gives her stinky rotten lemons. her general good attitude about learning russian and her shitball plight in russia--people who hate her, no forms of entertainment, food she hates, etc--were highly impressive. i woudl give her an award if i had one. I had no idea that malaysia was so multicultural, by the way. her friends were all sorts of colors and religions, and styles as they trekked back home after their stint in russia, and they were positively ecstatic to be going home. as am i, but for far less intense reasons.

write more soon


Blogger Chris said...

Hey Julie, glad to hear that you had a safe trip and are finally making your way back to the states. Email me when you get a chance.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Wow. Reading about Pravin's life makes me feel better about the commies who run Liberty University's distance-learning Abnormal Psych course. (They are slowly but surely pushing me toward the abnormal.)

11:49 AM  

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