Our Stuff

Soccer stadium

Our room is under the bleachers in the soccer stadium, on the right.

I threw my back out Thursday morning and have spent a lot of time since then lying on my back so tonight (Saturday) I was watching “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix while Joe and Hollis were in HCMC at Vinh’s third wedding. I noticed all the stuff in the apartment Piper and her boyfriend Larry live in. This is before she goes to prison.

Our room

Piper and Larry have a lot of stuff. For example, there is a magnetic board mounted on the kitchen wall with at least a dozen knives on it. There are a lot of other things around on the walls and tables. Some of them look as if they were probably Christmas presents.

I am going to make a list of our stuff here. This will have the additional value of informing someone else from the US who might come here about our accommodations. I would describe our accommodations as “Spartan.” But at the same time, perfectly comfortable.
We have a flatscreen TV that sometimes gets cable, mostly in Vietnamese. We have pretty good internet with a Cisco Lynksys modem. I have to unplug it and re-start it every now and then. We have air conditioning and a remote to turn it on and off and lower or raise it.

Between us we have three laptop computers which we use pretty much all day long all the time.

For eating we have an electric teapot, two TDTU glasses, two covered TDTU mugs, gifts of the accounting faculty, two other mugs, left by Richard Fincher, the arbitrator who was here last year and is now in Arizona. One good sharp knife that works to cut bread, left by Richard. Two plastic trays, sometimes used for plates. Two Vietnamese drip coffee sets, a white teapot, two small white cups and saucers, espresso size. We have seen these at Lotte Mart. Maybe Richard bought all of these.

There is small square refrigerator. It is not noisy. In the refrigerator we have rolls, cheese (very expensive, 92,000 dong, from Ireland), granola, mangoes, little cucumbers, milk and yogurt in small packs. We shop for this at Lotte Mart. We have three kinds of tea and a couple of kinds of coffee. One kind of coffee that is especially good comes from a restaurant a few streets away and is kept in the refrigerator.

There are two low box double beds with foam mattresses. We use one for sleeping, one for my desk. There is a real desk which Joe uses. It has a set of drawers that lock. There is a bookcase, two bedside tables with drawers, and two chairs. The books we have bought are in the bookcase. All the furniture is made of pressed boards. There is a red plastic folding chair, one of three that Richard bought. Hollis and Leanna have one of the others and the third is in the office.

We taped a big map of Vietnam on one wall and lots of art by Lorenzo and Massimo on the other wall.

We bought two yoga mats. There is not quite enough room on the floor to do side-leg stretches, but otherwise, OK. The floor is white ceramic tile, easy to wash. All our shoes are lined up near the front door.

In the bathroom we have various soaps, dishwashing soap, laundry, shampoo, etc., and a good supply of toilet paper, which we buy at Lotte Mart.

There are two tall armoire-type cabinets near the bathroom. We hang our clothes in there and put folded things on the two shelves. There is a row of drawers at the bottom of the cabinets.

A ladder goes up to a loft where we’ve put our suitcases.

We have a piece of cloth tape strung up for a clothesline. When the air conditioning is on, things dry.

TDTU supplies about 5 towels, two bottom sheets (fitted), two quilted cotton blankets, two big pillows and two pillow roles. I take the laundry to the dorm where it gets washed in a washing machine and then hung up to dry on a balcony on the 11th floor, where the wind dries it. That takes at least 24 hours, more if it rains.

The lighting is fluorescent bars up high. There is one bedside lamp.

And that’s pretty much it. The windows are glazed over so you can’t see in or out, which is OK, because there are people walking past right under one window and soccer players kicking balls around right under the other window. There are heavy gold-colored curtains over the outside windows. The door is also glass, and if you don’t have your clothes on and stand near it, someone on the outside of the room can see a white body through the glass. I’ve noticed this.

The window in the bathroom has a wire screen, no glass, so air comes in and out, so you must shut the door between the bathroom and the main room. Then the air conditioning will work fine in the main room.

There are some insects and some geckos that eat them. I kill the big black insects myself. Joe prefers to ignore them.

My point is that we do not have a lot of stuff here and it’s fine.

I remember reading the Swedish crime novels by Maj Sowall and Per Wahloo, in which the cops go through all the items left in the apartment of the dead person, and they itemize everything: three shirts, two plates, one chair, some books, etc. They can make a list of everything the person owns. From that, you can figure out who they were. You could do that with us here.




Published by helenaworthen

Labor educator, retired from University of Illinois, taught at TDT University in Ho Chi Minh City in the Faculty of Trade Unions and Labor Relations. Co-author with Joe Berry of Power Despite Precarity: Strategies for the contingent faculty movement in higher education, forthcoming (August 2021) from Pluto Press.

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