Saigon, smoke and smog


You got to be stronger, you got to be wiser….

Cigarette companies are employing sales girls to peddle their tobacco here: buy two get a lighter etc…

The girls, all well cast to fit the bill. Sampling a product, hooked for life.

Best way to break in a market is via Direct Sales: Likeability, Commitment and Consistence, Social Proof (everyone who is in the know, smokes this).

Young men, beers in hand, and cigarettes in the mouth.  All the good die young.

For now, let’s party on. Born this way, born that way.

Born to be wild and born to run. Born in the USA or born in Vietnam.

Trees help sucking off the smog. Rain helps.

But not nearly enough. The dirty air masks are proofs.

Breathe in, breathe out.

Full-lung capacity. Half-life to infinity.

Things might seem to have changed, but then, it seemed to have stood still. People still want to be recognized, to climb the social ladder and to be hip. What are those Filippino bands doing here in town? Our new priests, who help us along? Consecrate us for hedonism?

Saigon knew how to enjoy itself way back. Last night, to prove my point, a guy sang “Don’t let me down” at Acoustics. The audience couldn’t hum along, but I could. That was my signature song at Chu Van An.

Again, the current might have flown down stream, but up-stream, the game plan remains the same: sourcing for new revenue stream, building customer’s loyalty and maximizing customer’s life-time value.  One pack of cigarette at a time.

I am all for a good time.  Even a smoke. But to fall victim and be arm-twisted by agents of Death in disguise, is something I am not falling for.

I wish they sold second-hand smoke masks. The direct sales force will have to shadow the cigarette gals and sell 10 out of every lighter the later managed to push. Now that’s fair game. Born this way, remain this way.

I will survive…..even though it might seem as if  “it’s the end of the world” at times, here in Saigon, for as long as one cares to notice.

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