Paparazza Marla and Vietnamese Talking Bird

I know – you’re just here for the bird, but before you get the dessert, you’re stuck with the vegetables. In this case, another of my “issues.” Enjoy (or, skip – that works too).

Some fellow travelers, all taking in different directions of Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) from the steps of the Northern Hotel

Most people who travel with me will tell you that I can get pretty annoying when it comes to photography. It used to be much worse, but it can still get bad. I love taking photos of other people, especially cameos. I obsess over capturing expressions of happiness or intrigue as they’re experiencing parts of our adventure. Sometimes they’re posed, too, but mostly I want to savor a look.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t keep these photos in some sort of creepy scrapbook, or slather them in swimfan-type decoupage around my house. I take them and then share them with the subjects when I get them developed. I usually have one or two as part of my digital scrapbook, but what it’s about, the point of it all, is a way to right a wrong, to preserve someone or something I expect to be gone/lost too soon.

Fellow writers moved me so much when I saw them meditating near the statue of Lady Buddha. Moments like these reinforce my drive to stealth-photo. Hair, makeup, dress – those things never occur to me. It’s all about a moment, an emotion, that I crave to preserve – mine or anyone else’s.

Here it comes…the boohooey blame it on my parents portion of the blog. Except it’s not about pointing fingers, just about understanding. When I finally did understand the why of taking all the pictures, it did decrease the quantity I took. I haven’t altogether ended the obsession, but understanding was truly a first step.

So, on to that point of obsession. When I was 9, my dad left us. He was a bit of a philanderer, and my mom had reached a point where she could no longer forget or forgive the cheating, so when he wanted to return, the answer was no. (This was all stuff I learned at a much older age, so of course at the time, I pretty much just hated everyone). Anyway, she was in a lot of pain after he left, and as people sometimes do, to give herself closure and comfort in this terrible time, she made a snap decision to gather up as many of the photos she could find with him in them (including ones of us) and send them packing with him. In the years that followed, those photos somehow disappeared into the ether. In the meantime, I was suddenly without a father and without very many photos of him either.

One of the remaining photos from my childhood I cling to. This is Dad and me in the Gulf. Florida, 1974

During the same time that he left, I won my first camera, a little point and snap 110, from selling magazines for school. I self-nominated as family photographer, and have been obsessing over it since. When I was 16, Dad died and I scrambled through photo albums and my own 110s, trying to savor as many photos as possible. It anchored this obsession with people lost, memories lost, photos lost.

So, in my mind when I obsessively photograph anyone and everyone who accompanies me on a trip, the background noise in my mind tells me I’m doing them a favor. Naturally most people don’t see it that way, and don’t appreciate the often awkward candids. But enough usually later appreciate that one moment caught that they didn’t know occurred, that they wished they had somehow captured, and it reinforces my *bad* behavior.

So, I’ll probably always be the annoying paparazza (aha! See, I looked up the singular form – occasionally I work a little at this stuff) in my group of friends, and I’ll just deal with the occasional glare, gripe,  snark or outright anger over it, hoping in the end, they’ll know I’m working on doing it less, and that the story behind it is not as nefarious as wanting, or caring to snap them on a bad hair day.

Friends working in the rice fields near Hoi An, VietNam.

Wait – what about the bird, you ask? Ha – I lumped it with Paparazzi blog because it’s too short of a story for a full post.

I was in a bag shop, buying a purse, and wanted to pay with VISA, because I was afraid I might run out of Dong (yes, yes, I know, some of you will say I should be so lucky. Others will say I should never go empty-handed).

Anyhoo…The owners had to take me to a nearby shop (only about 1 in every 5 or 6 shops take credit cards) where they had an arrangement to use their card machine. They were a very friendly family and to get to the neighboring shop, we had to cut through their living quarters, wedged between two shops on parallel streets. As we were leaving the shop to enter their home, I caught sight of an old woman who was muttering as she teetered into another room.

As we cut through, I thought she started yelling at me. I turned and realized the *person* yelling was this bird. I turned my camera to video mode, trying to get it yelling, but when I moved back closer, it would only mutter a few phrases, despite pleading by the husband and myself.  So, here you go – bird talking in Vietnamese…

2 thoughts on “Paparazza Marla and Vietnamese Talking Bird

  1. I know exactly what you mean about the photos! My albums almost never include photos of myself, but of the sights and people around me. More often than not, people don’t know I’m snapping their picture. I try not to let the really embarrassing ones go viral. 😛

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