Pauline Nguyen. Occupation Restaurateur and author. Age 48. Relationship status In a relationship. Best known for Her book, Secrets of the Red Lantern. Currently Appearing in Filthy Rich and Homeless.
Pauline Nguyen: “I believe in commitment, but commitment doesn’t necessarily mean until death do us part.”
My father, Lap, met my mother, Phuong, at the fresh food market in Saigon, where both my grandfathers had businesses. My mother was promised to my father, but for a time she refused to marry him. Her father, Ha, told her that if she didn’t, he’d join a monastery and she’d never see him again. So she agreed and, eventually, my parents fell in love.
My father was a lieutenant in the Vietnam War. When Saigon fell to communist rule in 1975, he faced imprisonment in a re-education camp. I was three and my brother Lewis was two. We fled in a boat to Thailand, where my brother [TV chef] Luke was born in a refugee camp.
We came to Australia a year later and settled in Cabramatta. My father didn’t know where to put his trauma, and so he dumped it on us. Fear formed solidarity between my brothers and me. We couldn’t protect each other, but we could console each other…