12 March 2011

the humanness of Vietnam: Nutella Baguette

Saigon District 1, Feb 2011

There is a place where they  have soup and baguettes even at midnight.
I have Nutella at home, all I need is a baguette and the walk will do me good.
I get my baguette at the end of Nguyen Du street for 3000 Dong (15cents AUD) and turn back along Ly Tu Trong Street, opposite Norfolk Mansion. It's 10:30pm. 
No one walks on my side of the street, just a lady dressed like a housewife walks in front of me.
"I come with you."
"I don't think  so"
"why not?"
"--------no answer---------"
"I'm hungry."
blah blah blah etc...

"Stomach small"
"I'll buy you a meal, but no money"
we walk some more.
"I come with you"
"No I don't think so"She is mid 30's nice looking, normal lady. I'm surprised she acts like this.  
"--------no answer---------"
"--------no answer---------"
"--------no answer---------"
"why you don't want me"
"--------no answer---------"
"I'm hungry."

Fine, let's see if she is really hungry. I pull out my baguette, give it to her. 
She takes it. No inhibition.
"Hang on", I take the baguette back and break off a bit for myself. "I'm hungry too"
She takes back the rest.
Well there goes my Nutella baguette, oh well....
We kind of go the same direction.
She holds up her bit of baguette, "very good"
I give her a thumbs up...
She walks along on the other side of the road and eats the baguette, we are heading in the same direction.
I duck into a convenience store.

we part ways...
21Feb11, Saigon

Yes you who must leave everything that you cannot control.
It begins with your family, but soon it comes around to your soul.
Well I've been where you're hanging, I think I can see how you're pinned:
When you're not feeling holy, your loneliness says that you've sinned.
---- Leonard Cohen, - Sisters of Mercy

04 March 2011

success stinks VS sour grapes

I'm a small time blogger, "and ah'm jes' doin' ma thang dude..."
And like all bloggers "I wanna get bigger, yea ....!!! "
I want lotsa people to read my shit ! 
I wanna see ma name up in lights ! Yea!!!

I looked around the blogosphere and I saw those successful bloggers, 
with their  HUGE traffic ratings on Google analytics. 
I'm jealous. 

I looked a little closer then
what was this glitz and ritz ? 
what about those ads that clutter up the space ? 
free ipod giveaways ? 
what's going on here ? 
Is this a shopfront or a blog ? 

it's corporate tactics, 
its 'win this, and win that' kinda shit, 
carefully crafted, cleverly designed, for consumer maximization,
that's just commercialization 

the hippy has sold out to the corporation
money talks 

if successful blogging means 
- "enter now to win this...and win dat..."
- flashing ads
- glitzy and ritzy websites 

- free this and free that and "hurry and enter now to win some crap...." 

no, thanks, that's not what I'm aiming at. 

I'm not at those heights (yet),
Now I'm a quiet little blogger 
Of course I wanna be read by millions... 
but my way:
no pushing 
no ads to suck you into my site
no ipod giveaways for you to win, nothin'to enter, nothing to get for free.
read my stuff 'cause you like it 
or don't 
that's it. 

if success is
Sea gulls fighting over bread crumbs, 
Monkeys fighting over bananas, 
I'll go another way... . 
       Sour grapes ? 
ask me in 10 years... when I'm big and famous....doing it my way, 
with no ads, no give aways, no greed based enticements...just good stuff for what it is.... 
It might look homely and dorky and a bit messy... 
and  it won't be everyone's cuppa tea... 
oh well, C'est la vie.. :-)

-- wow this has turned into a manifesto of sorts. hm.....

###  references: some of my thoughts were shaped by the writings below: or more precisely: I found confirmation for my views in the writings of others and then had the courage to say it :-)  

Recently I found myself at a Hindu temple in Darjeeling (India), surrounded by monkeys who displayed behavior not unlike that of members of my own race. The strong bullied the weak, the old were teased by the young. And mothers cared for and protected their children.
Life is thus. So it always has been. So it will probably always be. When it comes down to it, we are but a strange tribe of monkeys fighting over bananas.
from http://www.ruby-sapphire.com/buying-gems-at-the-source-dicks-law.htm

03 March 2011

on the street - Saigon

You know how some people leave a SUBJECTIVE  impression on you ?  
By the wall, on the footpath, sits a Vietnamese woman, about 25 years old. 
Her hair is all over the place, she has no shoes, her clothes are rags. An old empty bag lies next to her on the ground. The skin colour of her feet and ankles tells me she hasn't had a shower for a long time. 
It's VERY unusual to see this in Saigon. 

I slow down in case she asks for help, but she is in a world of her own. 
"Hm... give her something ? 
Stop being such a bloddy  doooooo gooder Haiko  !!
Just keep going, you can't be helping strays and waifs all over the place." 
Looking back I see a Vietnamese man stop and give her some money.
I walk back the way I have just come and order a baguette from the stand on the road. A baguette with pate and meat and all vegies they put inside. 

Walking past her for the third time I hold out the baguette to her. 
She stares at it for a few seconds. 
I'm feeling silly, she doesn't want it. Oh well. It's my issue. 
Then she looks up at me, and her hand comes out. she takes the bread and very carefully puts it on the ground for later. 
I leave. 
End of story ?
Well sort of.

You know how some poeple leave a SUBJECTIVE  impression on you ?
They have a personality, 
A flavour, a colour a  taste all their own. 
You  walk away and their character lingers inside you. 

Well  that's what happened with this lady. 
She reached out for the baguette, and her attitude, her energy, her personality was all in that simple action. 
It was not a bad impression, quite light, nice, gentle and fierce, smart and intelligent. 
Come to think of it, she reminds me of one of the characters in one of the stories I'm writing. Just a little. 

How come a meeting of 1O seconds  leaves a bigger impression of her personality than people I've met for hours or weeks ? 

Saigon bus

Looking over the big roundabout near Ben Thank Market Feb2011
When your ride a motorbike there is the danger that your right hand pulls too hard on the throttle. 
Your hand  is still on the handlebar throttle as the bike jumps forward.
That makes the throttle go on harder,
the bike jumps more, 
the throttle opens up more etc... and we get the jumping bike effect. 
Like a bucking horse. 
On a 50cc bike that is not such a problem. On bigger bikes it can be.

Because of the jumping bike effect  I have a personal rule to always always keep my right foot ready for braking on the foot brake. To never ever drive without the foot ready to brake.
Today I broke my rule.
There are petrol stations on the HUGE roundabout in Saigon, south of the Ben Thanh market. 
I filled up with petrol and pulled out with my little bike. 
I eased out of the petrol station, with just one hand on the throttle and feet hanging loose. 
The bike did the bucking horse thing. 
Right close to an oncoming bus. 
The bus slowed down, I veered away and all was fine.
I scared myself a bit.
I felt like an idiot, I felt small and stupid.
I expected a tirade of abuse.

Now in Australia I'd definitely get honking and abuse and shouting and head shaking and dark looks from the bus drivers.

In Vietnam I got a laughing bus driver, open smile, no anger. 
Anything, anytime, are the rules of the road here. 
How the hell do you thank someone high up in bus, with traffic noise and in a foreign language ? 
I folded my hands in a prayer gesture and bowed to the driver. 
It is what people in Thailand would do. 
And everyone can get the meaning of it, no matter what language. 
We look at each other again laugh and drive off.

A Vietnamese friend wrote:
Because you are a foreigner. If it was me, he would have yelled the hell at me - Ph

Why do we worry about things that are totally unlikely and yet we all brave the much more dangerous daily traffic in the cities ? 

Aswan, Egypt, Tombs of the Nobles