I am trying desperately to learn Vietnamese. Well, not so desperately. It's not like I wake up at 5 am and sing my Vietnamese ABCs (though maybe I should). I am trying to make it a creative process, to make the whole experience more bearable. I bought a book of poetry by Phan Boi Chau which I am in the process of translating. Here are the first two lines of Choi Xuan (To Play Spring) Quan bat kien nam xuan tu co da danh si (Careless southern army, content spring, stone the neck of a famed intellectual)
Da choi xuan dung nghi chi chi
(To stand already, enjoy spring festivals, canal, to think, limb to limb)
I imagine this is probably way off, but at least I'm building vocabulary and absorbing some Vietnamese writing.
The next project is to translate a recipe and cook it up in my dusty kitchen. I'd like to make a crispy dish called bahn xeo (egg pancake with shrimp, greens, peanut sauce and rice paper) It's one of the most delicious edible items on earth. If I were a Vietnamese dish, I'd be bahn xeo.