Trinh Cong Son, the great song writer, poet and soul of Saigon, said that he got his heart and mind revving each morning by watching frantic life unfurling all around him, while sitting in a sidewalk cafe. Lesser Vietnamese do exactly the same, however, for to be among one’s own kind is practically an hourly necessity here. The second they’re free to do so, most head straight for the nearest café, eatery or beer joint, which is, still, most likely on the sidewalk, or open to it.
At the next table, there is a man, woman and a baby girl, nursing from a bottle. Sunlight floods in, ceiling fans barely cool, while just outside, motorcycles swarm past, beeping too often. Up and down the street are scores of similar joints, with most specializing in just one or two noodle or rice dishes.
There is also a McDonald’s, overpriced by local standards, yet still filled, for it’s a destination for the nouveau riche, and for regular people to sometimes treat their kids, to expose them to how white people eat. Just out of sight is a billboard showing Denzel Washington, looking super cool with some sort of mean-assed rifle.
Postcards from the End…
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A dark, wiry dude rides by on a bicycle, with a speaker that repeats, “I buy air conditioners, refrigerators and sewing machines.” Now and then, a lottery ticket seller strays in, but none are children, as in the 90’s, and there are almost no beggars left, and gone, absolutely, is the appalling spectacle of kids in rags, waiting for a diner to finish his meal, so that they can eat whatever’s leftover, even if it’s just a bit of broth.
This eatery is known for its braised pork offal, served with French bread,…