Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’
If you have money and connections then you start a company and get ludicrous contracts through the connections.
If you don’t, you just get an education and work for those who do.
If that still doesn’t work you set up a small shop (the classic coffee shop), borrow some from relatives and do things in cash.
If the relatives can’t or won’t help or the coffee shop doesn’t pan out, you become a street vendor or a laborer, getting paid almost nothing and everyday is a constant struggle to survive.
If no one hires you (either because you are too old, too young or entirely hopeless) you sell lottery tickets or become a street scavenger. Some have money to make a wooden cart and put recyclables in there. Others just ride around on a rickety bike. Some cant even afford a rickety bike so they just hoist a big bag over their shoulders, their backs hunched over like Quasimodo, their ghostly shadows moving slowly beneath the yellow light.
And when the streets prove to be too harsh, you retreat back into the river or mountain and wait for your turn to die.
According to Teleb, the author of this bestseller, a black swan event is defined as:
The event is a surprise (to the observer).
The event has a major impact.
After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected.
Though my story does not qualify as a blackswan event, it is still funny how random life is sometimes:
-One day I stopped on Hai Ba Trung, next to two guys speaking English. I struck up a conversation and ended up having coffee with them.
-Their name were Ben and Felix. Ben brought his friend Chris along. Chris met Ben in Vietnam, through the Cal alumn group in Saigon
-Chris introduced me to Barrend and I got a job at RMIT.
-RMIT started a football club and I brought an old friend Duy along.
-Duy brought his friend Hoang along and we played for a while but never talked.
-The field closed for the summer break and we moved to a smaller court. Hoang and I talked more.
-Hoang, seeing my ripped bod, invited me to cast for a film.
-I became a big movie star, with legions of teen followers.
Ok the last part didn’t happen… because I said no, not because I don’t possess the good looks or the dashing charisma 🙂
I was talking to a girl just now when I said “Có gì a qua đón e nhe”. Just as I finished that sentence, I realized how local i have become. Before when someone used that quintessentially Vietnamese word “Có gì” ,it really bothered me because I felt like the person who said it really didn’t mean it or if he did, he only meant it in the sense that the only chance he would actually go through with it depended on whether some extraordinary event happened.
Fast forward a year later and I find myself saying the same thing, without even realizing it. Even worse I find myself using it to convey the exact meaning which I so hated 😦
When I lived in the States, it almost always peeved me other Vietnamese rarely attempt to assimilate. They hang out with their own kind, read Vnexpress, shop at Vietnamese markets, visit Vietnamese dentists, watch Paris by night, go to coffee shops for cafe sua da, drink beer and sing karaoke with their Vietnamese friends. To me, at that time, they just wasted a perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in the wonderful American culture.
Now I m here in Saigon, I find myself behaving exactly the same way they do. Only in a reversed role. I dress in jeans,tshirt and canvas shoes instead of dress shirts, dress pants and black leather shoes. Instead of local news, I watch espn, mtv and hbo. Instead of listening to Vietnamese love ballads, I stay at home and listen to my brother’s music library. I dont “di nhau”, “di cafe”, “di matxa” or “di karaoke”. Not only do I think they are a waste of time, I find it absolutely perverse to be paying some girl for her companionship. When I go to the beach, I actually swim laps instead of waddling around. Alas! When I go to the bar, I try to go to one that is not all about bottle-service. And when I do, I dont stand around my table like the locals. Instead I roam around and pick up girls. You know, like an American.
My friends are primarily VKs. It is easy to communicate, to joke around and go pick up chicks with them. For some reason I always thought I would, of all people, be more in touch with my old friends. But that is not the case. My upbringing has been different. And so have theirs.
I guess what I m trying to say it is impossible to change a grown man and it is impossible to change me. He is what he is and I m what I m and there is nothing to be peeved about.
Now I m 28 and look the part, lots of people call me Anh. Some call me Chú or Cậu, whether it is a high school kid, a street vendor or a store clerk and many times they are much older than me.
A month ago, when I bought woods to make the bookshelves, I hired a cyclo man to transport the woods back to my house. When he arrived, he addressed me by Thầy. So there he was, a skinny man who was as old as my dad, soaked by the cool rain of the night, with eyes and skin burnt by years toiling under the shearing sun, calling me Thầy. It was an archaic term I have heard of but never been called, and probably never will be again. At that moment like no other, his words instantaneously and inexplicably gave me a warm feeling inside, kind of like life is nice and these people are good people and Vietnam isnt a bad place to live after all.
It is here where an ugly chick becomes a supermodel, a supermodel who cant talk becomes an MC, an MC with no acting skill becomes an actor, an actor with no singing talent becomes a singer, a singer with no sense of fashion founds her own label, hiring ugly chicks to model her shows, starting the cycle anew.
This attitude is everywhere, from consumers preferring to buy imported goods instead of local goods w/ the same quality, to corporations giving a higher salary to foreigners w/ the same skill set as a local, to a local dating a white guy just simply because he is white. In future posts, I ll give more details about such attitude but for this post I shall talk about what happened tonite:
My friend got stopped by 2 traffic cops on Nguyen Trai st at 1:am for not wearing a helmet. Of course, whenever a cop stops you, you bribe him and go on your way. But my friend, a VK, played the role of a foreigner, pretended like he didnt understand squat and kept yelling ” I dont know! I dont know” The cops tried to intimidate him but failed, became frustrated and ultimately had to let him go. Simply because he was a foreigner.
I had no idea why. It was as if they had this implicit policy of not bothering foreigners because, according to their fuzzy logic, such act would surely destroy their career and irreparably taint foreign relation between VN and that respective country. Had it been a local, the story would have been entirely different. The bike would have been impounded for a month and a hefty fine ensued. By discriminating against their own kind, turning a blind eye against the foreigners and tolerating their belligerent and disrespectful attitudes, the cops have inadvertently encouraged such violations to continue which in turn endangers everyone sharing the same road.