by Lan Phuong
I still remembered the first moment when I arrived in Saigon in my first year at University. I came from a small town, 40 km away from Saigon.
I used public bus to move around and discovered the city. Sometimes, I spent 4 hours at noon (from 12am-3pm), paid a 4,000VND (1/4 of a USD) ticket to...sleep in the bus. My renting room near the university was so hot with a low roof and small space that I couldn’t concentrate on doing anything. The bus moved to and fro in a 60km route around the city. I slept peacefully in cool air conditioner. With 200, 000VND/week, I had a high- level- life standard compared to many of my classmates at that time. At least, I had time to sleep on the bus sometimes.
I tried to find a job to earn a living. I just noticed that all of my classmates found something to do to earn a living. Finally, I found a cafeteria which needed a washer to clean dishes.
People run fast in the flow of money in Saigon.
I started at 6pm every day. A big woman asked me to use some kind of unknown soap to clean the dishes. That soap was thick and I could re-use it many times after waves of dishes flowing into the kitchen. I washed dishes. I re-washed them in water. I dried them with a dirty towel that the big woman gave me. I couldn’t even have a chance to hold my head up one time. Everything was a mess. There were hundreds of dishes and bowl. I still remembered the smell of soup and barbecued pork chops. When you mixed them up with the unknown soap, it was a disastrous smell.
I received 400,000VND (25USD) for a month with that job. At the time, that paid my room renting.
I was immerged in dishes, pork smell, and soap smell. I was tired out every day after 10pm. I slept as I had never slept before. I forgot my exercises, homework and research.
All other of my classmate failed some subjects as they also worked at the same pressure with me. We are rural students. If we didn’t work, we had no choice to study in the city. At that time, I pursued my dream to study in a university. That was all I had in my brain and heart. If I left school, I was low-educated and continued to earn so little money in countryside.
At that time, earning 400,000VND is a dream. Even in my nightmare, I saw that amount. If I had earned more, life could have been better. I guessed.
3 years later
I am working in Saigon. Saigon gave a chance for everyone who works hard and tries to be better.
At 25 years old, many young people can earn a lot. They spent money on bars, clubs, cinemas, theatres, sport games, music show...
I just bought a ticket to see a 3D movie this week in Megastar – a big cinema in Saigon. The price is half of 400,000VND (my own salary as a dish cleaner).
Even in economy, earning money seems to be so easy in Saigon. Young people become richer and richer. We have a lot of chance to work with western companies. We are paid in Western money (USD, SGD or AUD). That is a huge amount compared to local salary. They pay a lot to cloths, automobiles, cosmetic products, branded shoes and bags. Money seems to be the origin of wealthy in Saigon.
I get lost in the wealthy
And I get lost in the wealthy.
I can buy tickets to every movie in the cinema each month. I also earn enough to pursue some luxurious expenses like buying some branded shoes and bags.
Once, I walked in a big shopping all. Everyone was so chilly to each other. They walk around with no emotion. Girls gaze at diamond jewelry. Men look fixedly at coat and boots in a Valentino Shops. In the front door of the shopping mall, a young teenager forced another boy into the corner of the big wall near the door. He hit the boy very hard and continuously. The boy fell down. I ran out the mall. Everybody was just walking and took a fast glance at them. When the rarely-seen-guard of the mall appeared to impede that fighting, the boy fell down. Blood sheds on his face and head. Nobody helped him.
When I tried to catch a taxi for the guard to take him to hospital, no taxi stopped or just fastened immediately when they saw the boy. Finally, we could take him to hospital.
I was stressed down. I remembered so hard about people with beautiful costumes wandering around and didn’t help anyone. Since earning better living, I spent a lot of time in places like that. There is no human connection in that place. People just pay attention on luxurious stuff. They forget other people around them.
After that they, I often wonder about money, about living standard, about privilege products and places. Are they useful? Are they worth buying? Is money worth to change our attitude to this life, even in a very luxurious shopping mall or an expensive restaurant?
In exchange for wealthy, I get lost in a big world of consumption.
Friday, September 30. 2011
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)