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Dutch Lady Versus Vinamilk - A Foreigner and a Local Battle it Out (But Not Really)

Humor doesn't require much knowledge of each other’s language, especially in Vietnam.

On a recent sweltering day, I went to a minimart to buy a Coca-Cola just as the store was being supplied. They didn't have a bottle in the fridge, so they had to get it from the back – a task which took some encouragement on my end. 

One of the delivery guys, about fifty, scrawny, smiling but missing a couple of teeth, got actively involved in my persuasion efforts and laughingly pushed them to get the Coke. He was in a good mood, exuberant when laughing and commenting on everyone around him.

When the staff was literally and figuratively dragging their feet to get the bottle, he asked me where I was from. “The Netherlands,” I said. When that didn’t ring a bell, I pointed to the Dutch Lady milk in the shop: “I’m a Dutch Lady”. “Ah”…. he said laughing: “Vinamilk is much better!”

We started a little ‘competition’. “No… Dutch Lady is much better,” I replied laughing. “No, Vinamilk much better!” “No, Dutch Lady much better!”

We kept going back and forth a couple of times, gesticulating to reinforce our words. Neither of us was going to back down on our sudden burst of national pride.

Then I found a way to carry my point. Even with my 1.71 meters, I’m still taller than most Vietnamese, men and women alike. Standing next to him, I pointed out the difference in height (small but significant) and said: “Dutch Lady much better!”

Roaring with laughter he got back into his van, giggling “Vinamilk is much better!” We waved our goodbyes appreciating each other’s pride and sense of humor.

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