Monday, November 20, 2006

Shards of a triumphant day

Like most reasonably memorable events, this one has a prequel, which started the previous night with the decision to head down to Pham Ngu Lao for a bit of pirate like behaviour without any real pirates present, just three teachers, respected by their students and probably not regarded to highly by their peers. I guess one could say it was a kind of Pirates sans Frontieres get-together, but in this case it was more like Pirates sans Pirates, so it equated to Vietnamese Rum sans Pirates (and without much of a charitable intention). But let us not get carried away in a prequel that can’t rival the Event Horizon the next day.

Saturday morning, 09:30: With two bellies filled with Al Frescoe’s Scrambled Eggs Breakfast, half-decent coffee and a head still swilling in less-than-decent-but-more-than-sufficient rum, Henno Kotze and Christoff Aucamp, aka Teacher Henno and Teacher Chris, traverse the lushly carpeted steps to the 3rd floor of the Sheraton Hotel to attend the Vietnam USA Society’s annual gala event known as “Teacher’s Day”.

They step lightly and intently into the banquet hall, the slight limp in Teacher Henno’s gait belies a prequel event that might have rivaled the event on the horizon, strangely, a slight déjà vu settles upon him as if this might’ve been mentioned previously as well.

The breakfast was a good idea, as an event that starts at 09:00 and only offers its luncheon at 12:30 is sure to contain a number of unpleasant elements in between of the sorts which could include delegates from different subsidiary and sister educational institutes globally such as Staten Island College or ambassadorial goodwill officers from the City University of New York, drawn-out, backslapping speeches in the presence of said delegates, chairmen, presidents, owners, co-owners, CEOs etc, not too mention incoherent and unrelated Windows Media Playered video clips of archeological dig-sites in Uzbekistan and worms sifted out of the mud from Chesapeake Bay or mutant, hybrid tomatoes that ripen but don’t rot for six months and having absolutley nothing in the slightest sense of the word related to Teacher's Day. These elements were included. Breakfast was a good idea.

Seated in clustered tables self-organised according to campuses, the Tan Binh crew, of which Teacher Henno and Teacher Chris were soldiers, settled down at an subliminally arranged laager of starched white, round banquet tables (Vietnam Veteran and history buff, Teacher Terry, must have organised the military vantage points and lookouts before Teacher Henno and Chris arrived).

It was to be a turf war, as the Tan Binh Campus Crew, otherwise known as the Ut Tich Dozen, named after the street in which their fortress lies (and still sporting various vestiges of the Tet Offensive decades ago, such as sooted canon muzzles found on the roof), would take on their arch-rivals of the Nam Ky Khoi Nghia stronghold, and the newly-statused headquarters of Khanh Hoi found across the Saigon River in District 4. There was also a handful of lesser battalions stationed across the city present, including the former command centres of Vo Thi Sau and An Duong Vuong as well as the allies in the guise of the Vietnam Australia Society, but the Ut Tich Dozen knew they were up against the wall, being posted out near the airport, the frontlines of the English teaching offensive, waiting for the barbarians.

It was a firefight in the form of a campus entertainment show, followed by a danceoff, as a Filipino Louis Armstrong trumpeted in the call to arms, with What a Wonderful World, the Spanish Satchmo reassuring Tan Binh that, like himself, being outnumbered didn’t necessarily mean being outgunned. Tan Binh made the first move, dropping bombs that would make Zach de la Rocha flee to his basement and mutter to himself “Will. I. Am.”. It was another veteran of the previous war who led his troops into battle. Hanoi Leroi lured the other campuses into a false sense of security, before looping the baseline with a “We Will Teach You” duet with Ashley “Food for Freddy” Mercury.

There was a breach in the other campuses' defence, Tan Binh took the advantage brought along by the momentum of their performance and crippled those who tried to resist. We had won hands down. The other campuses performances were lacklustre; an acoustic love song, a raincoat-inspired modern dance which was a tad to deep for Teacher Henno to fully understand the symbolism and gist of it, followed by a beautiful duet mourning the loss of life and the loss of love at the hands of the Dozen. The emotions were saturated and helped along by the bottles of Hennessey strategically placed on each table. It was, after all, just past nine in the morning so suprisingly by the time the waiters brought along the tumblers to pour the cognac, the Dozen had already ordered their second, followed by the third and fourth.

It was the fuel needed to dominate the danceoff; the fluidity and cutting edge dynamicism of the Dozen was unrivalled, donning sunglasses and flexibility, the usually stoic Sheraton banquet hall turned into a brothel of debauchery and Ao Dai-clad teachers turned into harlots and respectable, gentlemanly male teachers transformed into silk-tongued, arms-a-limbo cads.

The battle had been won, prizes were handed out. Teacher Brian and Teacher Henno were left in the dark, pondering their lack of success at the awards ceremony. Chris walked away with an Allied award from VAS as one of the distinguished teachers of the year, but he dropped his trophy on the way to the afterparty at the Lion Brewery.

Teacher Henno limped out with a swagger, slightly dejected at the lack of respect for his perhaps off-beat teaching techniques, but proud of his campus and co-teachers. It was a good morning, followed by a good day and evening.

10 comments:

alet said...

Ek dink jy moet nou trugkom...ek verstaan nie meer jou posts so lekke nie. Maar daai ontbyt klink nou vir my vorentoe!

henno said...

Hehe, nee meer lank nie :)

Jon Hoff said...

Ha. Brilliant mate.

Emmie said...

so wanne land jou êroplein??

MARGIE said...

Hilarious! :) As for "lack of success"... All in due time.

henno said...

Em - oppie 11de.

As for "lack of success", it has never really bothered me that much as I follow the same mantra: "All in due time"...I hope...

mullet said...

what do they put in the rum in Nam? Crazy story bru. Hehe

Linka said...

very funny

henno said...

Hah thanks. Dude, you don't wanna know what they put in this rum, actually I don't know, but I think it's toxic. I think it eats the lining of your stomach or kills white blood cells or something, but it sure does taste good with a splash of coke ;)

mullet said...

haha, sounds killer