Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Sound of Music

Odd things can happen to you at any time. You can find 20 dollars on the street, or you can get hit by pigeon poop walking across a public square. In this particular case, we got accosted and serenaded by a gaggle of nuns after running into a group of Microsoft employees from Seattle bringing 20 computers for the convent.

Those of you who are following this blog know that we have been staying at the clinic attached to my aunt's convent for the past two weeks. Still, the number of actual nuns that we have run into has been pretty small, and for the most part, they have been short interactions, full of deference, soft voices, soulful eyes.

Not this time. This time, we met up with about 10-15 Aspirants, or young women who are just beginning the 13-14 year long journey to full nun status. We proceeded to go through long meandering conversations in English/Vietnamese hodge podge with some of the most spirited and boisterous people I have ever met. It was as if every single one of them was like Maria from the Sound of Music. It wasn't clear to me how the metamorphosis from chatterbox to serene vessel of God's grace was supposed to occur, but I suspect that it has something to do with the two year VOW OF SILENCE that each of these Aspirants was about to undertake. If I was about to not talk for two years, I would probably be yakking my head off, too.

But clearly, the most surreal, Sound-of-Music-like moment was about to come. For what would be more Rodgers and Hammersteinesque than a full-on musical moment? One nun would start, and then all the rest would join in with perfectly blended, multi-part harmonies. Somehow, we got shamed into our own choked version of America the Beautiful, only to later learn that these nuns have choir practice three times a week. Basically, we got vocally hustled.

They invited us to join them for a ride on the famous Dragon Boat tour of Hue's Perfume River, but we declined. I won't say that we didn't feel like getting schooled again as they sang up a storm while floating down the river, but I'm sure if factored into our decision.

Here's your moment of Zen: We were there with our friend Phuoc, who also has a caucasian wife and he was showing them a picture of her. She is also blond and fair skinned, and one of the nuns asked if she and Holly were related. To see her response when we said no, you'll have to watch the video of the singing shown below:

Oh how, the tables have turned. Please see

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