Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Moment From Vietnam

First, a little backstory:  There is a "narrative team" at Bigpoint - basically a bunch of creative writers that work on the story and setting elements of our games (jealous is me).  These narrative designers put on a write-in once a month where we all get together and do some writing exercises; you know, get the creative juices going. Well, one of the exercises from the last write-in was to write about a specific scene from our past in a foreign place, with as much detail as possible.  So... the scene I picked was eating breakfast at the corner noodle shop on our street in Vietnam.  I felt like it came out pretty good!  And it described a bit about life in Vietnam that I don't want to forget, so I've recorded it here.  Consider it a snapshot of a typical morning on Le Duan street in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Note:  I've tried to clean it up a bit (it was in bad shape since it was a hand-written exercise), but it still reads a bit "stream-of-conscience-like".  

I am sitting at the corner soup restaurant on Le Duan where we live in Da Nang.  I say "restaurant" liberally of course.  Like most eating locations in Da Nang, it's little more than some plastic chairs and tables set up on a patch of concrete.  This location happens to have an awning made from palm fronds and old advertisement banners, held up by what looks like the trunks of small trees that had been cut down and stripped of bark.  Also typical for such places, the cook is a middle-aged woman, clothed in the Vietnamese jumpsuit that looks so much like pajamas.  The ground is filthy - covered with discarded food bits from previous customers.  This is not alarming, as it is the custom to put garbage & unwanted food under the table.  The plastic tables and chairs are low to the ground and anything but sturdy.  An American might think they were children's play things, but it's what everyone sits on in places like this.  The plastic of the tables & chairs is a red color that used to be as bright as a fire engine, but has taken on a dingy, stained quality over the years.  Mold and constant moisture is not kind to such things.  If you pay enough attention you can smell the moist, organic scent of mold in the air almost anywhere in the city, but here it's more difficult because it is masked by so many other scents.  The "bun bo" cooking in the pot, the pickled chalets in the jar on the table, exhaust from the occasional passing motorbike, the dust from the road, the dog who romaed beneath the table looking for scraps, and even the unwashed bodies of the local workmen that walked past or sat down for a meal.  There are no dust motes in the air.  The air is much too moist for that - so full of moisture that the sunlight is a bit hazy.  On mornings like these, someone from a dry climate with harsh lighting (like myself) might question whether it was actually cloudy or not.  Despite the filtered light, the heat is rising.  The hot soup is not helping with the sweat that is starting to accumulate on my back.  My helmet and shoulder bag are sitting on the chair next to me.  The scattering of locals around the restaurant send occasional looks my way.  I think I am somewhat of a novelty.  The woman cooking the soup smiles at me when I look at her.  She's seen me many times before and welcomes my business.  Her daughter is sitting nearby with a shirtless todler.  The baby stares at me with fascination.  I don't look like the people he usually sees.  The air is full of sounds.  Locals talking in their peculiar Vietnamese chatter, the hum of motorbikes on the busy "beach road" down the street, and the more harsh buzz of those passing by the shop. Wet and shirtless men pass occasionally from the direction of the beach. The dog is not very interested in me.  He is skittish and only dares look at me from afar. I fear he is not treated well.  He also doesn't seem to like the unidentified bits of animal flesh I drop on the ground for him.  He must not trust them either.  They look a bit like organ meat - maybe spleen? - but really, who knows?  There is a smaller dog too, it looks less like a tall fox and more like an overgrown squirrel.  They play together sometimes, but spend most of their time looking for food.  Understandable since they are so thin.

Okay well... that's the story!  Enjoy.  And here are some more random pics of Vietnam.  Just to set the mood. I wish I could find one of our street, but I can't seem to locate it.  Oh well.

1 comment:

Lin Rongxiang said...

How the hell the clouds manage to look like they do. Thank you Vietnam!

With cheers from Singapore,