Monday, September 18, 2006
A guy actually followed me down the street today repeating this phrase, interspersed with questions about my age, nationality, name etc.
Since I have gotten rather bored of being asked such questions all the time by people trying to sell me something, I have started throwing them back at the asker rather than responding. Smith, 32 from Togo was quite sure I was heaven-sent but I wasn't so sure about him. That being said, I am getting tired of being alone, so I chatted with him a bit, but stayed on my guard. After a few minutes, I went on my way and watched for a bit as he sought his next celestial being.
This leads me to think about other aspects of walking down a street in HCMC.
On the street here in the tourist district you find many people interested in selling you various forms of copy-right infringement, lottery tickets, zippos, postcards, gum, manicures, foreign newspapers, bobble-head dolls, hair clips, fans, Tin-tin t-shirts, sunglasses, massages, and even bras. Yes ladies, you can rummage through a baskets of bras carried about town on two poles in typical Vietnamese fashion. I have watched as women make their selections by holding the items up to themselves or putting the bra on over their shirts in the middle of the sidewalk. I am reminded of another WUSC volunteer telling me that she was even in a small store once to buy a bra and she asked the sales clerk if she could try it on. The clerk looked at her and agreed but just stood there and watched, waiting for her to try it on right there.
On the street in HCMC is also where I met one of the most fluent English speakers I have come across here. He looks about 10 years old, which probably means he is 13, and he wanted to sell me some postcards at first. This was on my first visit to the city and I actually wanted some and so I obliged. But as soon as I entered into the interaction with him he changed his objective and asked me if I would take him into a posh mall nearby to buy him some milk. At first I thought, well of course I could buy him some milk, he even said he wanted milk as payment for the postcards and I thought that would be great. But then he told me that the reason he wanted milk as payment was because the security guards wouldn't let him into the mall by himself to buy it. I asked him why and he told me it was because they thought he would steal something. This made me think twice and so I offered to go into the store and buy him some milk he could wait outside. He refused because he said that I couldn't possibly know what kind of milk he wants and so he would have to accompany me to the store. When I asked him to tell me and promised I would remember the exact kind of milk, he stuck to his story that he needed to come with me. Having myself been a kid who tried to get money from tourists and strangers I realized I was indeed dealing with a wily character so I gave him 10,000 Dong for the cards and wished him luck.
Posted by Flo at 2:49 PM