Thanks, Tom Petty for providing the soundtrack to my life of aimless wandering and making friends of strangers.
“You were just a face in the crowd, Out in the street, thinking out loud" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_umeMtV4QU
The neighbourhood to-hua (fluffy tofu) seller. Her smile is the sweetest topping.
Vietnam must be the most connected place in the world. Almost every shop has wi-if and the street vendors parked outside of the shop sweet talk the shop owners into giving them the password. I am also not surprised to see people temporarily squat in front of a shop to get some internet. Most street cafes also have free wi-if, though it looks like the cafe owner is having the most fun.
This morning in my enclave in Saigon, I stopped by a small coffee shop . As I picked up my coffee, I casually remarked that I was hungry - this shop does not serve food, and it was bit too early for the other eateries in the neighbourhood to open. Two minutes into my coffee, a plate of toasted bread and a dollop of cream decorated with chocolate appeared in front of me. The kindly owner explained that she didn’t want me to be hungry. So, she fixed whatever she could. I love free food, feels like home.
Earlier in Singapore, I hosted a meet at a public library where the participants shared their stories about the kindness of strangers they met in their travels. The world is not too shabby a place after all.
And here in Saigon, I met another coffee cart owner with a bright smile.
Shimokitazawa, a part of Tokyo where you can buy second-hand clothes.
To cope with the ever-changing world in which we live in, Paul Mc Cartney sings we be prepared to live and let die. For me, I prefer to have a ritual. For many years, whenever I am in the posh Naka Meguro, I buy a sesame bagel from a small shop. Next, I buy a caramel flavoured coffee from a combini. As I rest by the river, this one pigeon with a missing foot always drops by to pick on the sesame seeds.
Early this decade, I sometimes ate at this street noodle vendor in Saigon. She always fed me an extra fried egg, and when it rained, she found a dry spot for me to sit. Since 2016, once I started spending more time in Vietnam, I tried to locate her. Locals told me that the neighbourhood authorities had chased away the street vendors, many took up other occupations or went back to the provinces. Today I was in a small alley, and I felt a tap on my arm. I turn around and find my favourite noodle seller. She has a shop of her own now. In Saigon, you should always walk into a random alley. Something magical often happens.