Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Master of Puppets

Vietnam time: 6:15 PM Thursday
DC time: 7:15 AM Thursday

Overall it's been a more negative 24 hours than positive, but you take the good with the bad. But as you know I try to the find the positives in things first.

OK, now that you've laughed your ass off, I will actually try to highlight the good things of the puppet theater. This art form was used in the early 12th century as a way for workers in the rice fields to entertain themselves when the fields flooded. Characters range in size from a few inches to a few feet and can be quite animated moving their mouths, hands or heads. The puppeteers control them with poles that are under that bamboo backdrop. The whole performance is in native tongue and uses the traditional music. There were 17 small acts but my favorite was this character because most of us with small kids decided this was the inspiration for "Boo" in Monster's Inc.

Truthfully, this wasn't my thing. The musicians were completely bored given they perform this show several times each day. It was a little too "traditional tourist" with over priced gift shops and idiot Americans on tours (hey wait, did I just....nevermind). In many way, this would resemble The Mousetrap in London or kissing the Blarney stone in Ireland; probably not the highest quality activity, but a 'must-do' in the city.

To experience a little puppet theater yourself, feel free to watch one of the many hundreds of youtube movies. And remember, if you watch this about 12 times in a row, then you've truly experienced it all.

Today we spent all day with Bitexco, an import/export company that's become a conglomeration in search of public funding. While you might think our cohort would have presented, the groups on Economies of IPO and Bubbles in the Financial Markets did5 minute presentations. (See, the other groups took the professors' suggested topics and are interacting with these companies. Dave and Ceci--I am not using acronyms anymore since I just don't care--picked textile trading and that is why we don't have a lot of presentations as a group.)

Bitexco has a variety of businesses from real estate to hydro-electricity to bottled water. We met with their president, who had about 20 other colleagues in the room. What an opportunity to meet counterparts in all our arena; marketing, accounting, IT, however there was no format to interact.

One thing you should know about university professors is that they also have consulting businesses. That's pretty much what today turned out to be. Besides sitting there for 7 hours straight to hear consulting speeches, the room was at 84 degrees. Seriously, these buildings have air conditioning. Use it people!

Our class could not get into this event at all. There was nothing remotely connected to our studies or personal lives. Due to the heat, lack of air movement and droning on of the professor, people began to get distracted. That's Mark doing the crossword puzzle and Pete checking his blackberry. Rebecca and John both have their shoes off, while Pete was in bare feet. The woman on the phone is one of the Bitexco people, clearly just as bored.

The highlight of the visit however was having to wear headsets to hear the translations. It was almost like being part of the United Nations...minus the boredom and bare feet.

Four days into the program and people are really beginning to get on each other's nerves. We used to see the whole class only one day a week and now we are with each every day from breakfast to bedtime. Any small nuance which used to be overlooked is becoming a major irritation. Since my team has the most issues at home, those are exacerbated here.

Dave & Ceci are just literally driving me crazy with their lack of social skills. Dave doesn't join anyone for dinner and constantly hangs all over me like a 5-year little brother. He has awkwardly inappropriate conversations with people. Yesterday at lunch he was telling classmates that he doesn't "do #2 in public unless he stands over the toilet." Katrina, my dear friend and fellow mean girl said to him, "I don't think we've reached the sharing part of our program, but you could save that one again until then." I am literally ignoring him and purposely sitting down in places with one chair or with Steph. This is him below. He listened to most of the presentation in Vietnamese for fun. BTW, he doesn't speak Vietnamese.

Cecilia is acting like a fucking hostess in this country and introduces herself to speakers even before the professors. She's like the Vietnamese Cathy Lee Gifford and it so inappropriate. Speakers will be talking and she'll shout out things to the class as if to help give more insight into their business practices. She nods during talks and adds commentaries in every meeting as if she were presenting this two-week program. Personal space is constantly violated and she spends too much time invading people's conversations.

As you can imagine, we haven't really prepared much because Pete (the other teammate shown above) and I are completely over them. Both of them selected the textile trading topic. Since I did a lot of the last Finance paper, I didn't really prepare for the presentation. Only one of them needs to present and personally, and I thought Ceci would be ideal given her language skills and understanding of the country. However she explained to me on the way home from the puppet theater that "I not understand Vietnamese so well since I be gone away so long." Kiss my ass, woman, you are talking to everyone. I don't even care about it anymore. There is so much other value from the rest of the meetings.

We have dinner on our own tonight so that will consist of ditching the ones we don't like again and trying to spend more time on the town. I also need to find time (and space) to do a bit of bathroom sink laundry. Socks and underwear are running lean.

I'll be better tomorrow. I promise.



Blogger Daddy Cool said...

oh my sounds like a nightmare.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

Oh. So, maybe I don't want to go back to school just to take trips like this.

Hey, that's not fair, the Bitexco lady has a plant to hide behind.

I would've had my head on the desk, snoring away, in that kind of situation.

12:27 PM  

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