Wednesday, September 03, 2008


This blog is about the preservation of exoticism, something I think about frequently. Sometimes it's fun to sit in a restaurant, for example, having no idea what people around me are saying. Watching people talk in a restaurant is more exotic and mysterious than listening to them. Sometimes it's fun experiencing underdefined phenomena. This is how I justify having never learned any Vietnamese. Last night, just about sundown, we walked across District One to eat a nice dinner at the Refinery. It's named after an old opium refinery building on a muddy alley courtyard off Hai Bà Trưng Street. On the way there, we passed the gates of Reunification Palace, like we almost always do. Last night, the army was blocking heavy traffic along Nam Kỳ Khởi Nghĩa and Lê Duẩn Streets, which intersect in cul-de-sac cum bus stop at the Palace gates. Hundreds of scooters lined the sidewalks of the park; regimented flag bearers lined Lê Duẩn Street for blocks, a dormant parade bursting with potential energy. Dinner was nice. I ate a fabulous tagliatelle à la mer, if you'll pardon the fusion, graced by tomato lentil soup rich enough to also dress the pasta. They make splendid manhattans at the Refinery. I had two. Nearby, an English teacher discussed universities with his graduate student. On the walk home, we were absorbed in conversation when the first uniformed sailors passed us heading the other way. They were all grim and middle aged. There were a lot of people in uniform. He traffic coming from the Palace was really heavy, but this time there were no police keeping it off the sidewalks. Threading our way through the vast gridlocked crowd was difficult. The show lights on the Reunification Palace grounds were doused. It took forever to get home. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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