Wednesday, October 29, 2008


saigon plus

saigon. the city is changing by the day. i can see the physical change every time i visit the place and it is not too much to my liking. it's becoming generic. some new sectors of the city are not much different than many other modern asean cities. but some other things haven't changed much. people here are as friendly as ever. same as usual. when the sun sets, on every corner of every street, or at least around the major business hotel area around sheraton on dong khoi st and the area around it, if you are a man and looks like a foreigner, you'll be accosted by smiling men offering to take you around on motorbike (for a small fee of course) and without fail will try to hook you up with 'a lady' -as they put it.

and if you say yes, they will call the lady on the mobile and soon a motorbike rider will come along -with a girl at the back. my vietnamese goat friend referred to these ladies as 'motorbike chicken'. not sure why he doesn't call them chicks rather than chicken. i put it on account of his rather poor command of english. one time another vietnamese friend ordered buffalo juice in a restaurant when he actually meant pomelo juice. and calls vegetables 'grass'. as in i like grass. may be he meant just that i don't know.

sometimes i just wonder, some of these vietnamese professionals... their english is quite atrocious. that's the favorite term one of my indian friends back home refers to the standard of malaysian english in general these days...atrocious. but the the viet women , or more often girl shop assistants around these tourist area can speak english quite well...perhaps better than some of the vietnamese professionals in MNCs. and even those ubiqitous young boys and girls selling chewing gums can speak passable english...although one boy once asked me ,suicide sir? when he meant shoe shine.

and last night a depressing thing happened to me. this very small and young girl came up to me and offered to sell chewing gums . and as usual i said no. she kept on pestering and tagged along as i walked away. and when i came to a place where the street was quite empty she said do you want to have sex with me? and i just looked at her and asked how old are you? eighteen she said. you don't look like it. er much? one million. she meant dong. the vietnamese currency which is roughly about usd60. dong! what an apt name for a currency in a country where sex can be bought quite cheaply! oh i also have a viet friend with the unfortunate name of Dr Twat , a real randy bugger. but that's another story.

anyway, as i was saying. i wasn't tempted. and she started to give the usual sob story. the father is sick. she was cheated when she was young and so we sat down on a bench and i asked her the story of her life. and she kept on asking me if i want sex. in the end i just bought a packet of gum just to keep her from pestering me. and in the end she finally went away but when she was quite a distance away she turned back became abusive, shouted insults at me (in vietnamese) and flapped he arms and showed rude signs.

but what really depressed me was this. when she squatted in front of me there was an unmistakable odour coming from her. she pongs. to use v s naipul's expression that i read somewhere when he unkindly described one wellknown dame. i am sure she isn't healthy. some peadophile must have done that to her . a couple of years back i visited an exhibition about the life of geishas in a museum in tokyo and one thing struck me. the average life span of gieshas in the old samurai days was less than 30. not hard to understand why it was so short. and i wonder what will happen to this chewing gum girl. i hope she lives past 30.

I, too, have seen my share of such depressing situation. I gave them some money and asked them to quit doing what they were doing. However, after one sad incident, I stopped giving advise; just money and hoping kindness would touch them just that day.

I didn't know most Geisha girls lived to only 30. Those I saw, are rather quite old, definitely past 30. I must go to Japan one of this day. whispering9
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