Today we were supposed to have the electric shut off between 8am and 1pm, so we showered early and grabbed the #50 bus at the local college to ride downtown in modest luxury and even more modest comfort. We did our exercise walking to the bus, from the bus to the new Trung Nguyen Coffee Shop across from the Sheraton Hotel, and then over to the new Vincom Center for some air conditioned mall strolling to burn off those excess whatevers that keep adding to my wasteline.
Trung Nguyen Coffee is probably the best coffee in Vietnam. Grown in the Central Highlands where the air is pure and the temperatures just perfect, it is the coffee we drink at home and on special occasions, when we go to one of their many Shops. This shop is the first conveniently located store for us, so it was imperative that we try it out and see what they were offering. They have food, so we ordered their special dry noodles with spices and meat, meat so tender that it fell apart when I tried to pick it up with my chopsticks. We took some food pictures (posted on Facebook) and enjoyed the comfortable armchair seating. I had brought my bluetooth keyboard with the intention of typing a new post here on WordPress, which I proceeded to do after we ate. Unfortunately something stopped working and I couldn’t write any more. I was using my iPad and could not even save what I did, altho WordPress says that it saves a draft every few minutes automatically. Maybe it is saved on my iPad, because here on my computer it doesn’t exist.
So this is a memory rewrite, and I apologize to you loyal readers who still are around, because MY memory rewrites are never the same (could it be because I have a really lousy memory) and different enough to be thought to be written by someone else. Do you fellow writers have the same experience? I watched a movie on TV called “Finding Forrester” or some such title. It was the story of a young, gifted black kid growing up in a poor neighborhood who is befriended by a ONE BOOK WRITER, name of William Forrester. Forrester is played by James Bond, sorry, Sean Connery, and the black kid by a so-far-one-shot actor who did a very fine job. The point of all this is that Forrester/Connery/Bond said something that is particularly applicable here: “You write the first draft from your heart. You do your second draft, your rewrite, with your head.”
I have always found this to be true for me. If I just write, without too much thinking, letting the words flow out of my mind thru my fingers onto the keys, the content is something that I am often in awe of, and usually very proud of too. I found something I had written a few years ago and had great trouble recognizing it as mine, but it was great. As with much of my stuff it was not very long, and was probably a few paragraphs that I dumped onto the paper with the intent of expanding them at a future date. The interesting thing is that my memory years ago was as bad as it is today, so fears of Alzheimer’s are probably still unfounded. The sad thing is that I saved it where I found it, but I don’t remember where that was or is. But boy oh boy, it was terrific writing! Sometimes you know when you stop that what you just wrote is pure shit, and saving it does not remove the stink, but once in a while you know that what you just carried onto the page merits praise, joy, and laughter (if intended). Those are the “from the heart moments”. I hope to offer you more of them here.
Today the weather was very strange. Cloudy, with a temperature that brought out the down parkas for the Vietnamese (about 70ºF), it was a great day to walk around downtown. We stumbled on a photo exhibit by a bunch of amateur photographers from the Northwest mountain tribes, with descriptions written by the subjects of the photographs. Someone had the fine idea of giving the people cameras and letting them shoot pictures of whatever they found interesting. They took thousands of photos, and some brave, fine souls sifted through them and chose a few dozen of the best. They did great, because the best were fabulous, and the stories were very interesting. I will put a few of the pics up on this site, in a subsequent post, because they are too good not to share.
I find Vietnam amazing in its diversity. There are about 56 different tribes that make up the population, and some of them are still living the same lives that they have lived for the last x-thousand years. Electricity has reached most, but not all, and in many cases there is one TV in a community center, two or three light bulbs around a village, and a community water tap for all to use. In the mornings you can see 5 or 6 people coming to the water to brush their teeth, rinse their faces and bodies, and get water for household uses. They don’t have to wash the floor if it is a dirt floor, but if their house is on stilts, the floors are scrubbed daily because everyone sleeps on the floor, usually under mosquito netting. A community toilet seems to adequately serve the people–at least I never had to wait in line (a very fortuitous thing considering my diuretic induced leaky bladder). These villages have a store for each major need, a dry grocer, a meat vendor, a household goods provider, and a clothing store. A village will have one or two pickup trucks, horse/buffalo/oxen carts, and a few motorbikes. It is a tight society, and although there are arguments as in all societies, the people generally work together and share both work and benefits. So far modern life has made few inroads, but slowly the old ways are being replaced by new, easier methods of living that will, in my opinion, put an eventual end to a primitive but effective lifestyle. Change comes to everywhere from everywhere. I don’t say that it is good or bad, but you won’t find me living in a jungle in a stilt house without air conditioning. I only survived on my sailboat because I had fans everywhere and a nice, cool ocean to jump into when it got too hot. Spoiled, you bet!