The past few days I’ve been on many walks around this city. Sometimes I wind up whistling an old song that finds its way into my consciousness. I was thinking today though, that I’ve never really heard anyone here whistling. I thought it was odd because when I’m here, no matter where I’ve been, I’ve always been around people. Being around so many people, I would’ve though I’d hear someone whistling something at sometime.
So today I was walking past the American consulate and checking out the Vietnamese guards outside armed with AK-47s. I had just decided that I was hungry and was going to a small, western-style convenience store to buy baked beans for dinner. However, before I got there, I heard someone whistling a song. I turned around and it was a little boy, maybe 11 or 12 years old. He was one of the numerous kids who goes around all day and sells lottery tickets. He had what looked like a crippled right hand. But he was whistling. I just glanced at him. There went some myth or stereotype that had been forming in my mind. It was the strangest thing for me to hear as I had just been thinking about the lack of whistling here over the past couple days. I suppose that it was just one more way for me to learn that I’m constantly learning here. I don’t think one day has gone by since I’ve been here that I haven’t heard, seen, smelled, or tasted something new.
For dinner this evening, I didn’t want to experience something new though, I wanted some baked beans. It being the season of cookouts back in America, and with the Fourth passing without a taste of bratwurst, I figured baked beans would be something familiar and comforting after a breakfast of rice noodle soup and a lunch of white rice, shrimp, pork fat, and soup made with a bitter vegetable. I don’t know if there are any Vietnamese foods that I’ve tried and distinctly not liked, but sometimes I salivate for a taste from home. So to the convenience store I went. I bought baked beans, canned hotdogs, and Tabasco sauce. I went to the roof of my guesthouse and cooked (or heated, call it what you will) in the small kitchen there. It was a nice view and the breeze was refreshing when it blew the right way. It was a heavy and very filling meal.