Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One Motley Crue on the Saigon Bus #4 Today - Perspective XV: The Little Things VIII

Just a couple of things today. O My last trip on the #4 bus was a charming story about and old soldier I met. That story will go down as one of my most pleasant experiences here. Today's story will have some merit as well, but of a different sort. The #4 today was a hard one to catch back from the airport. I had been in the area for a series of meetings all afternoon and it was certainly not my plan that I try to catch the bus from a location different from my usual and right in the middle of rush hour. But since I think I'm so fucking bright some daysBus,  Saigon,  Rush Hour, Gridlock, Motley Crue, Brian Wilson, Gum, Michigan Opinion,  Storytelling, , I thought I knew the return route and could find a stop easily. Wrong, dumbo. When I arrived at what was certainly a proper stop with a shelter, benches and a big advertising poster, it had been inhabited by street shoe salesmen - guys who spread out big tarps all over the sidewalk, preventing walking, and fill them with all manner of shoes. Gym shoes, work boots, sandals, whatever. Vietnam is a big shoe producer and some of them are really quite nice, and cheap to boot (bad pun intended). But the last thing one needs is these guys taking over your bus stop when a light rain is falling. A #4 came and just cruised right on by. I had seen him swing towards the curb up the street a bit but when he got to me it was adios mutthaf*cka. It took me awhile to sort out what was happening. It took me until yet another #4 came and blew by. The stop had been closed because of the street construction in the center lane where I have mentioned before they are digging a big long hole and installing drainage pipe. Saigon is at sea level or below and it floods like a swamp when the rains come, which is almost all the time. So the anser was clear. Walk to the next stop. And that was easily a kilometer. When I finally arrived a #4 dutifully swung by and snatched me up. It was about 1/2 full so I got my favorite seat riding shotgun to the right of the driver. But rush hour is a predictable yet unpredictable daily event in Saigon. Everybody knows it's going to happen, and the resulting gridlock where motorbikes can cut off busses and big trucks crossing from other streets, but they act like it's a big surprise. After spending nearly 20 minutes in a gridlock where a traffic signal had gone down, somebody finally called the traffic police and got a yellow helmeted cop to the scene to sort the rowdy bikers out and let us finally pass. But in the interim the driver thought we needed some entertainment so he switched on 99.9fm, Vietnam's classic rock station and treated us to a good loud sample of Motley Crue, followed by some screaming Gothic shrew with three wailing guitars as accompaniment. I nodded in approval and did a little air guitar for the driver as he broke into a big smile. At least the crazy whiteys on the bus dug the scene. Once through the gridlock his assistant, the girl who takes your money, whispered in his ear and the station was changed to something more traditionally Vietnamese. There were a couple of old ladies in the back mind you. I'm sure they had had enough Crue for one day. Maybe a lifetime. O Once at my internet cafe I had two Cokes a "Ban Xeo Man" (Vietnamese rice flour and egg pancake, folded, full of shrimp and pork and veggies - mmmm - tasty) and a hot coffee with sweetened condensed milk before I sat down to write this. Upon beggining to write a little girl of maybe seven came in with a puppy. It was a big hit with the customers and she, of course, was in the selling business. Little girls here sell gum to foreigners and we all buy it now and again, but I'll explain more about that and why later. With me she didn't try to sell me at all. She was interested in my headphones and the music I was listening to in the computer. She came into my booth, played with the trackpad for a bit and then said "music." I gave her the earbuds and she promptly popped them in and laid her head on my lap. She was tired. She needed a break. The music I was listening to was the new album from Brian Wilson called "Lucky Old Sun" and it's a bit of a tour de force from an old beach boy who just refuses to die. If you've got the sound cranked up on your PC or Mac, you're listening to it in the podcast. The little girl rested for about 10 minutes in my lap and the staff smiled and commented that I had made a new friend. When she finished I asked her, "Good?". And she promtly said "No, no good". And scurried away. I found it to be just as sweet an ending to a day with a fairly harrowing bus chasing trial as one could have. Here now for your perusal. O Over and out.

For more on the "Perspective" or "Little Things" series, click below:

My Morning Wake-Up Call - Perspective XX: The Little Things XII
We'll Have A Gay Old Time - Perspective XIX: The Little Things XII
"Rolled Foggy Disposed Ricepaper" - Perspective XVIII: The Little Things XI

Joyeux Noel - Perspective XVII: The Little Things X

Lunch With Obama - Perspective XVI: The Little Things IX

One Motley Crue On The Bus Today - Perspective XV: The Little Things VIII

Attraction vs. Conversion: How To Power Your Blog - Perspective XIV: The Little Things VII

A glass box full of deep fried chicken heads - Perspective XIII: The Little Things VI

Seoul Searching - Perspective XII

He Would Have Shot Me 40 Years Ago - Perspective XI: The Little Things V

Chomsky on Colour & Sleep - Perspective X: The Little Things IV.2

Running With Scizzors - Perspective IX: The Little Things IV

Henry Miler II - Perspective VIII : The Little Things III.1

Henry Miller - Perspective VII: The Little Things III

Big Brother - Perspective VI: The Little Things II

This Carnival of Life! - Perspective V

The Art Walk - Perspective IV: The Little Things

Bentley #5 - Perspective III.2

Bentley vs. Vespa - Perspective III.1

Bentleys Invade Vietnam - Perspective III

Death Of A Colleague - Perspective II


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