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Page 5


Three things Vietnamese can do that I can't do.

  1. The “flat-footed squat”. Although I prefer to think of myself as “slender” or “slim”, people have told me all my life that I am “skinny". Whatever you call me, weight-wise, I am very similar to the average Vietnamese male and my belly, thighs, calves, and arms are about the same diameter. Where I think we differ, however, is leg-to-torso ratio. My torso and legs are about the same length, whereas Vietnamese tend to have longer torsos than legs. And therein lies, I believe, the main reason why they can do the flat-footed squat forever, and I can't maintain the position, but for a brief moment in time. Being slender like I am, my belly and thighs and calves allow me to compress them against each other as I squat down so that my knees can come up under my chin as a result. Also, it's not that I can't bend my legs at the knees and settle down flat-footed with my fanny resting against the back of my calves, I can. It's that to remain upright in this position with my feet flat on the ground, I must stick my arms out in front or me like I"m Superman flying through the ozone. If I don't, I fall back on my fanny…ker-plop! On the other hand, the Vietnamese with their longer torsos are top heavy and when they squat flat-footed, their longer torsos just naturally lean forward past the center of gravity and voilà! success. The Vietnamese can remain in this flat-footed squat for amazingly long periods of time, apparently without restricting circulation in their legs. One time I watched a man in a shop across the street from a coffee shop work on a motorbike in this position for over an hour, without moving.True story.
  2. Sitting on hard surfaces. I can't tell tell you how many rock-hard, un-cushioned wooden benches, chairs, and grass mats I have sat on during my time in Vietnam. I'm here to tell you, I can last no more than 30 minutes before I have “dead butt” and start squirming as I try to restore circulation to my gluteus maximus.  I recently had the chance to watch a traditional Vietnamese music theater performance. We sat in chairs. The musicians sat cross-legged on a quarter-inch thick grass mat on the floor. The production lasted three hours and not once did I see any of the musicians squirm or even adjust there body postures. They just sat there. Amazing…
  3. Speak fluent Vietnamese.




JULY, p. 9

AUGUST, p. 9


OCTOBER, p.2, p. 3, p. 4