Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Yet another case of environmental disconnection occurred over the weekend. It's just another one of those things I can frame as evidence of how strange life is here, but which I know is in reality more about me not having any idea what's happening around me at any given time. We were walking across the park, probably heading off to dinner (on either Saturday or Sunday night, I'm nonplussed to discover that I don't remember which), and noticed that municipal work crews were setting out rows and rows of plush red and gold chairs right in the middle of Lê Duẩn Street. The kind of chairs usually stacked in the corners of hotel convention centers. They were facing the gates of Reunification Palace. There were towering stacks of stuff under blue tarps (of what? Speakers? More chairs?) at each corner of the park. Traffic was being diverted, down tiny one-way access roads along the outer parameters, by cops in dull green uniforms. This is all merely par. It's also normal that, when we passed through there again on Sunday or Monday afternoon (about eighteen hours later), all evidence of anything big going down had been totally swept away. Here in HCMC, I frequently feel like something big is about to happen right after I leave somewhere, or has just finished before my arrival, or is maybe going on right now just one more block past my turn. Everyone is just so busy getting somewhere else, probably wherever the empty chairs happen to be. Something big must be happening. Very rarely, I catch a glimpse of the evidence that it's true. Like those empty chairs, ranks and files of them, sitting in the dark street waiting for me to move on by before they can get down to business. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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