Sede Vacante

The light is on but no one is home.

Comfort is Opium


This is the best quarterpounder in the world.

I’ve been in Vietnam for 76 days now. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from home and hearth.  It would have been ok if I were stuck in Tokyo or Amsterdam.  Sadly, despite all my efforts, I’ve realized that I’m irrevocably too westernized for my own good.

As I’ve said in a previous post, the problem with Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) is that it’s too much like Manila; in terms of the pollution, the noise, and the way things look like in general.  That means there’s very little novelty to living here other than the occasional trip to a pagoda or a temple (of which I’ve done enough to last me a lifetime).

And sadly, it’s not even enough like Manila (or any other western city) to lull me into a distracting level of comfort.  There are no real malls, there are no McDonald’s, no Starbucks.  And whatever elements of the west you CAN find (some cool bars and clubs), are so chock full of the “wrong” kinds of white folks and snooty nouveau-rich that it’s difficult to just have a good time.

A few weeks back, one of my team members flew over with a couple of Quarterpounders.  They arrived cold, and several hours past their prime.  Still, I couldn’t help but shovel one into my gullet the moment it landed on my desk.  It was lovely.  I wanted to cry.  The second one, I wanted to save.  So lovingly I kept it in the fridge and ate it in half portions over the course of the following day.  I would have eaten it in quarter portions, but the ache at the end of such a short exposure would have been too much torture to bear.

Stupid?  Yes.  Which is my point.  Get too comfortable with anything, and you end up in bondage.  It’s like a drug.  You can’t live without it… at least until you’re forced to and you realize that life goes on, and it isn’t too bad.  And still, every now and then, you wake up feeling like you could just about kill a small hamlet for a whiff of the stuff. We have become too soft.

We can’t live without airconditioners, cable TV, iPods, and water heaters.  And in the process of all this coddling, what have we given up?  The feel of the sun on our face, the joy of hearing a human being tell a story, the sound of the wind and the rain, and life-affirming gasp pulled from our lungs when we jump into cold mountain water. They are bonds of the softest velvet, but bonds never the less.

If you think about it, a lot of these bonds keep us from doing some really cool and adventurous things.  And some of these bonds, no one really in their right mind would consider a bad thing; things like friends and family, loved ones, duties to work, etc.  But really, would it be so bad if every now and then, we just cut loose and set ourselves adrift?

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4 Comments»

  jude wrote @

I’ve gone 5 months without mcdonald’s or kfc. I’m hurting.

  The Pope wrote @

LOL, at least I have KFC here. But it tastes annoyingly different. And they don’t have the gravy. ARGH.

SHOOOOT MEEEEH!!

When you coming home, Jude? Let’s spend a day at KFC when you’re back. Hahahahaahh..

*T

  Jude wrote @

WTF! KFC without the gravy! Di ko yata kaya yan. It’s like being in the backseat of a Mayback which has no aircon unit or sleeping on a comfy bed without pillows… Will be back in Manila in December. See you/

  The Pope wrote @

Oh yeah? At least you’re getting laid. Huhuhuhuhu…. December pa?? How much to fly to Kazakhstan? I’ll bring you a few burgers if you take me to see a real kurgan. 😛

*T


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