I left Hong Kong for a year to get a taste of a slower life, to consider the world’s motions through the lenses of a person with time to spare. What could be better than this slow sweetness, what better than to sense the day’s oozings hours by hours? The great irony is that for this year, I chose a city that is all hustle, wild with night partiers, and buzzing with construction and motorbike traffic. No Thoreau, I. And this Saigon river is no Walden Pond, with its ice that whooped in winter in all its wild, crackling loneliness. No, it is brown with carried away soils; it is heated with human effluvium.
Yet most afternoons here, time and the river slow their pace and even the most ardent tourist and laborer feel their steps turn labored, molasses like in the heat. It must be the dampness that gathers on glistening brows, that stains once clean button downs and runs in embarrassing rivulets down one’s suddenly too ample body. Our skin, uncomfortably thick, rug like, accrues weight and apathy and we gather it about us, and crawl to shade and sleep.
Sweet indolence of the slow life! Those of us that have entered the long dark tea time of the soul, what could possibly bring us back to activity and motion? Afternoons like this, even cyclo drivers seek shelter from the sun, abandoning tourists to their ill fated ambitions. The street barber hangs his razor loosely at his side, even he can’t be bothered to bring it to his customer’s lathered, suspended chin.
And when the evening comes after a rain, ah, could anything taste so sweet, so cold.