Random meet


In Vietnam, don’t be surprised when you are placed  next to a complete stranger, who knows someone who knows your host.

It happened to me at Christmas party this year.

Next to me was a Vietnamese-American returning from multiple tours in Iraq.

He was here to fly his wife out. She had flown in as well, but from Australia.

Happy ending: he was back from the war zone while she from a former one.

The company she works for has agreed to transfer her to the US.

I was like NYT‘s Friedman, marvelled at how “flat” our world had become.

A teen-age girl at the table couldn’t help “omg”, “omg” “so you’re like in Hurt Locker?”

We were trying to break the ice waiting to be served when the spot light turned to our returning soldier. Rest of the night was “omg” etc…

I couldn’t help reflect on “the Deer Hunter” syndrome, and how drastic the change had been in our reception of veterans.

This story hasn’t taken into account how high-tech this war was as compared to Vietnam. Incidentally, I read a statistic that mentioned the average life expectancy for Vietnamese: 1960-40 years, 2010 – 73 years.

No wonder it’s jam-packed “scooter nation”.

When my fellow dinner guest left on his perhaps in-law scooter, I said “if you can make it in Iraq, you can ride in Vietnam”.

We were joking about his need to keep in shape after all the good foods.

One common ice-breaking tip is “who would you choose to be dinner guest.”

Some people mentioned Bill Gates, others, Kennedy.

My favorites would be Charlie Rose, since he can draw anyone out of his/her shelf.

Barbara Walters would be interesting if she stopped being a journalist, and just be a conversationalist.

I then would invite Elton John, George Harrison and John Lennon.

Let the party begin.

Random meeting but more enlightened towards the end of the dinner.

I realise one thing after last night: you might not agree with a policy (what Mass Destruction Weapon?) but you need to accept the person, soldier or civilian. We are all floating together (Christ Church in New Zealand got struck twice sitting on the ring of Fire) on the seabed and sitting around the table together.

Disagreement or agreement, we are fellow human beings, seekers of truth and beauty. And perhaps, for a moment there, he and I were both “viet-kieu” (you need a second helping there).

Random meet, but perhaps not quite random after all. Merry Christmas soldier boy!

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