Archive for September 2009
As told by one of the Misses at the restaurant from this post
The policy is no touching. We have waiters and security guards who protect us and will kick out those who misbehave. But we rarely resort to anything physical since it is bad for the business. After all, the Vietnamese expect it for 15usd/h. They expect a massage with happy ending for 15 dollars. Last week a big shot VP came and upon knowing our policy he went berserk. He ended up calling his own Misses but they were really ugly. Kaka.
All and all sex sells. I ll flirt and give out my number if they ask, which happens nearly every time. Then comes the usual “lets go out for coffee/lets have dinner/lets me take you shopping/why dont you come work for me?” spiel but I never go. Any time away from the restaurant is bad. We WANT him at the restaurant. If I go out, there is no reason for him to come and eat there anymore.
I can’t have a boyfriend doing what I do. A few weeks ago a guy spent almost 30 mil VND buying my coworker 2 phones. They went out a few times but I don’t know if he screwed her or not. She said no but it could have been a lie. After all she accepted the gifts. In this city, you just can’t accept those kinds of gifts and stay friend at the same time. But then she is pretty serious w/ her boyfriend, who keeps an eye on her at all time…
Her phone started ringing. She picked up and gently told some guy she couldnt meet him now. The clock struck midnite.
Behind every dish there is a story, as told by my cousin, a budding restaurateur in District 10
-The vegetable dish: The water spinach (rau muong) is soaked with water for a day and a night to give it the green color. For the glistening effect, it is further stir-fried with lots of oil. Oh yeah, since the vegetable is sold by the kilo, I would serve the dish with as much leaves as possible to maximize profit.
-The fish dish: Fish price varies a lot. For example, cá hú is harder to farm than cá lóc, so it costs more per kilo. To maximize profit, I would mix cá hú with cá lóc, or an inferior sub species of cá hú with a superior one.I do this a lot since it is almost impossible for anyone to tell. To get the smell and the fat off of the fish, and to give it a nice fresh look, I rub it with betel paste, which works almost instantaneously. However you need to soak the fish in water for a few hours afterwards to get the chemical out. Also you must be careful when you go shopping. I have seen fish sellers sprinkle pig blood on the fish or lay some kind of chemical on top so you d think they are fresh-kill but they are not. Only when you take the fish home and put it on the pan then the meat starts to rot and fall apart. It happened to me before, when I first started out. But now I know which seller is good and which isn’t… (to be continued)
What can I say about this little city except WTF! Imagine a huge bowl that is La Paz. On the rim is the barren El alto, perching precariously at 13615 feet. This is the only city I think where the poor has a room with a view. No one wants to live there it is so freaking cold. Those w/ money live at the bowl’s bottom, where the air isn’t thin and you can walk around without panting every 5 steps.
I wish I had taken more pictures. I was just too cold and sick from the altitude. All I remember now, and the memory is still hazy, is fat Indians in comical hats eating fried sizzling meat w/ their dirty brown hands, clear blue sky, windowless shacks stretching as far as the eyes could see, tree-less dirt roads, men with weather-beaten eyes, steep stairs, plaintive wailings, and of course the bitter cold of the altiplano.
South Americans eat and breathe football. At every game (no matter how insignificant) you are expected to see legions of fans standing and chanting the team’s fighting songs for the full 90 mins, to the deafening beat of drums, horns and other orchestra instruments. When someone scores, the stadium trembles. Huge flags are waved. Impromptu mosh pits are created. The players go out in inflated tunnels for fear of getting a bloody head from some stray rock/water bottle/shoe/other solid object. In Rio riot police were everywhere. That still didnt prevent a few hooligans from scaling the metal fence to fight fans of the opposing team, who quickly counter-attacked and pushed them back. The riot police however quickly ran up and dispersed the crowd. Freaking crazy!
At the highest stadium on Earth-Estadio Hernando Siles Zuazo-La Paz F.C vs Universitad
At the legendary Maracana Stadium-after Fluminense scored against Curitiba
South America is such a lawless place and Bolivia is among the worst. No one walks around at night. The few who do often become victims of petty crimes, corrupted cops or taxi drivers who rob you at gunpoint. So you can imagine how nervous I felt when I chanced upon a gang of masked teenagers in the city center.
It turned out they are just shoeshine boys.
And they don’t really wear masks because of the bitter Andean cold. It is because they are shunned by society.
I dont know what the hell is going on but most of the customers who buy fashion mags at my store are boys. How these little ambiguously gay Vietnamese boys know about Vogue or my little nondescript bookstore is beyond me. For the past week, 2 boys came in. One came with 3 giggly girls in taxi. The other by himself. Both inquired about Vogue subscription.
I never thought after all these years, I d be in Vietnam selling Vogue to some gay boys. In a way it is a validation of what I wanted to do all along, bringing knowledge to Vietnam. So to the gay of Vietnam, if you ever wonder whether “40’s is the look” or “Boots&Suits are back” you know where to go:)
In Vietnam, restaurants catering mainly towards males are called “quán nhậu”. It literally means “drinking shop”. They are usually outdoor and casually decorated. Guys go there to eat and drink. The beers are opened by beer girls, who double as waitresses. They dress in skimpy outfits, wear shiny makeups and are generally recruited from the Mekong delta.
Recently a restaurant near my house opened with the same idea in mind. The owner, however, takes it up a notch. The girls have to be 1.6m or above. They must be single and come from a nice background (as verified by the police of her respective ward). All speak English (or Mandarin) and have been trained by some guy w/ a Phd from Harvard. According to their website, it is a 60 day crash course on various topics such as etiquette, history and culture. Upon graduation, they even receive a diploma, good for all restaurants within the chain.
The funny thing is one of the girls working there I used to hang out with. Before I only had to pay for the meal. Now I have to pay for her hours, which as of today is 15usd/h.