Perhaps he would find a striking difference between the way people celebrate the Holidays here as opposed to Northern California.
One culture withdraws to nuclear-family gathering.
The other (VN) pours out to the street, Buddhists and Catholics both.
Someone mentioned that during the celebration of Buddha’s birthday, the Catholics here reciprocated by joining the throng on the streets as well.
I learned in cross-cultural classes that the hardest distance to cross is the last few inches (between two people).
Here in VN, in internet cafe, people log in to connect via social media to friends far away, but are oblivious to the next person.
We have evolved as species who use technology as a hyphen (send me an in-mail, text me, call me, drop me a line).
Back in the feudal age, people used accessories and ancestry to class-ify people (Bovary – Gastby).
Now we got algorithms doing the match-making and recommending.
“4 friends in common”, so?.
The Web speculates that Mark is here to “push” Facebook in this untapped market.
True or not, he would find plenty of food stalls to choose from, instead of Chinese take- out on this very day.
I can’t explain the loneliness single people experience in the States, especially up North (like Maine or Massachusetts).
In fact, America (the band) did try to capture this in “this is for all the single people, thinking that life has passed them by”.
Here, besides having food stalls open at any time, people celebrate Christmas wholeheartedly and wholesomely.
I got back from visiting my cousin on the outskirts of Saigon. The bus began to pull into the station, but the Christmas music was so good that I wanted to listen till the end of Sad Hymn… while outside the temperature would put Arizona’s and Austin’s high heat to shame.
People here survived many wars (my cousin’s husband was declared missing-in-action for more than 36 years). But life moves on as shown in her ensemble of children, grandchildren etc… And yes, people love music, their secret sauce in patience in suffering.
The end of the bus line, normally sweaty and unpleasant, became bearable because of pipe-in music.
Steve McQueen the King of Cool, often portrayed Prison break rebels. The moment he was put back into solitary confinement, his prison mates would toss him a baseball glove and a ball. There, in the dark, he would throw the ball, creating rhythm and routine. Survivors know what it takes to pass the time. That same 24 hours could be an eternity to those who don’t know how, or a brief blip from eternity’s perspective. Let the clock tick toward year-end. Vietnamese already went out and bought their 2012 calendars.
Now, this came from a people who fought Dien Bien Phu manually, and their “American War” with low tech. Now, social media want to make a splash here. Let the game begin. See who is more connected and how enriching the experience will be for a country bent on education. Facebook might sell, but I doubt that frozen turkeys will even for Christmas (my friend called last night at 3AM thinking I was still up to join him at a noddle stall). Go figure! Merry Christmas Mark. Make sure you post relevant and engaging “Like” about Vietnam.