Larissa Bahr's Blog

March 10, 2011

Squatting: a position of comfort

The Vietnamese position of comfort is squatting. Vietnamese people hang out in groups talking and squatting. They squat on top of walls or by their fruit at the marketplace. Wherever you go, you will see men, women and children all “squatting around.” I had heard about this before I came to Vietnam, but I didn’t realize how common it was until I got here.

The first encounter I had with this was while driving in the bus. Looking out the window, I was overcome by all the new sites and sounds. Buildings lined the streets, some new, most old. There were a lot of unfinished buildings with people working three stories up on a building with a wall missing that faced the street. As I looked at the people that we flew past, I began to notice many of them squatting down. They were squatting while hanging out in their yards, working, waiting at the bus stop – it went on and on.

While working with Project Vietnam Foundation on a medical mission, many of the patients squatted as they waited. This is where I saw the most people squatting – especially the elderly. They would squat and stay there until they were called and I had to wonder how their legs felt after squatting for hours.

As an American, I am used to pulling up a chair or just sitting on the ground if need be, but these people did not need a chair and did not need to worry about getting their clothes dirty because their resting position is a squat. I have tried out squatting like this but I have found that this style, while great for your legs, is something that would take me quite a bit more practice to get used to. Maybe if I start now, then I would gain the knack for it – but than again, maybe I will just stick to photographing it.