It’s 9:05 in the morning at Pieman towers, Saigon. Since 5:30, and not through choice, we have been listening to Abba’s ‘Happy New Year’. A classic in its day. It’s a timely, festive song enjoyed throughout the world once, maybe twice, maybe even three times in some climes on New Year’s Eve. However, that same classic song loses much of its charm when run on a tape spool, at volume through a public tannoy system, for nearly four hours constant. Abba were a great band. I love Sweden. Every Swede I’ve ever met has been a diamond. But, if Bjorn, Benni, Agnetha and Anni-Frid came knocking at my door today, they’d be greeted by noodledog. And he doesn’t look like he’d be happy just sniffing Benni’s balls.
Someone on my manor either really, really, really loves that song or is stone deaf. Or both. It’s odd behaviour whichever way you cut it. In a lunatic asylum it might just pass as normal. You know, where there’s some desperate, unwashed, bearded type, masturbating in a corner, listening to the same song over and over on a crappy transistor bolted to his ear. God’s minions barking orders to him via Abba. However, on the streets, in public, it’s a commonly held belief that such behaviour is out of place.
I’m all for cross-cultural exchange. Quite the left leaning, Bush bashing, liberal really. I just have issues with certain aspects of Sweden’s relationship with Vietnam. Now, if the local People’s Committee would only let me hook up my Powerbook to their tannoy, then I’d be able to give the neighbourhood a bit of Brit/Viet cultural exchange. I’m sure a 5.30am wake up call from Napalm Death would put a spring in the step of the local pyjama army on their way to the market.
The French have left their greasy paw prints all over Vietnam. Fortunately most of their stuff is orally ingested, not aurally. Chi Bay Banh Ngot at 36/24 Le Thi Rieng in District 1 churn out Pate so, the Saigonese take on the French Pate chaud, at 3,500VD a throw. The firm pastry is filled with minced beef, a wee bit sweet, a little bit spicy. One’s never enough. Two’s better. Three’s just plain greedy. If only Sweden had brought their food to Saigon and left Bjorn and the babes in Stockholm. Swedish meatballs in nuoc mam would have sounded one helluva lot better this morning.