Tuesday, October 25 2016


Teed Off (Feb 7, 2016)

Update: February, 07/2016 - 03:10

with Robert Bicknell

A new year begins and, to be honest, the last one was pretty disappointing when you look at everything overall. The world was a mess: oil rigs, water cannons, international terrorism, crazy people with guns, and weather problems. Good riddance to it.

Yet, every Tet is a new beginning and, for many - except those who prefer to live in the past and continue to grumble about how good it was "back in the day" we look forward to it with hope and excitement.

I really don't believe I just wrote that. I used to be one of the most optimistically people around, but somewhere along the line, I became a pessimist. Not only was the glass half empty, it was also cracked and dirty - until that "cobra bite" I experienced in the beginning of last December which made a difference.

Yes, I am sure there are people who know me who are calling their bookies as you read this: "Hey, what are the odds on Bicknell blowing his lid, getting "Teed Off" again and having a full-fledged mental fit before the end of the year?"

I wish I could say something like "1000 - 1," but the truth of the matter is that it would be even money odds at best. Most know I am not too tightly wrapped to begin with, so many feel that it's just a matter of time before ka-boom.

In order to maintain my refined and gentlemanly composure, I will refrain from going into morbid, graphic detail when mentioning my on-going annual Tet battle with banh chung.

*Sigh* Yes, I know it is a delicious culinary treat which plays a huge cultural role in people's lives here. Yes, I recognise and applaud the contributions this delectable delight has made to the nation's moral fibre (no pun intended). I get it. Let me just say that it is a "glutinous rice cake" and the operative word is "glue." OK? I've learned that one small piece is my limit, so this year I learned to just say "no".

Besides, I'm all out of blasting caps…

This is the first Tet I have spent in Ha Noi in many years and I forgot how cold it gets. Since 2009, I have been living in the warmer clime of the south, so I needed to request a two-way air-con in my villa. They provided it and I bought a small heater for the bathroom for early mornings and things seem to be just peachy. OK, the water out of the butt-hose could be warmer, but it wakes me up better than coffee.

All in all, not really much to be grumpy about, but I'd still rather be lying by my pool in HCM City to be honest. Cold weather is not fun when you have arthritis. It really makes life difficult.

However, It turns out arthritis is the least of my worries, because I tripped over a loose carpet and broke my hand right before Tet.

If I were in the US, a good lawyer (read: ambulance-chasing shyster) could have got me at least $1 million bucks for pain and suffering, but here in Viet Nam you get zilch. Not even a free banh chung.

Worse, it was at my own club, so I cannot sue myself.

Oh sure, I could TRY, but I studied law (as well as medicine. Jewish parents, go figure) and I would lose to myself for sure. I would tear myself apart on the witness stand; "Look at him. A derelict. A golf pro. Could anybody believe the word of this man?"

Case dismissed, but then I'd have to countersue myself for defamation of character. Yes, this could drag on through the courts for years. Every claim countered immediately, almost as if the other side knew what was coming.

No, I didn't hit my head. Why would you think that? I'm always like this. Get used to it.

Nevertheless, we have a lot of good things happening in the world of golf - especially here in Viet Nam with more new clubs opening every few months or so. More junior tournaments are scheduled for both north and south, a national junior championship in August. Things are moving forward.

I would like to wish all readers of this column a safe, happy and prosperous Year of the Monkey. — VNS

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