New friend... it started with a GrabBike ride to one of my favourite spots in Saigon, Marou. The chocolate, you know...
The young driver was very friendly and talkative. He had left his hometown near Hanoi for the craziness of Saigon half a year ago. Working for a real estate agency and making ends meet by giving people rides across the city after work or during his off-time. Even if I am not to meet them again I enjoy those brief moments. Sometime we laugh a lot, sometime they give me a good scare so their reckless and wild is their driving, sometime they move me and sometime, well, it's just plain silence.
As I got off the bike, I asked him whether he liked chocolate. Yes being the answer, I told him to wait for me and dashed into the shop to get him a tablet. He was very surprised and took a photo of both of us. Then came the exchange of contact. Facebook, naturally.
Later on, he told me he was listening to my music and said he had eaten all the chocolate whilst talking to his girlfriend.
We promised to meet again and we did. Yesterday evening, we had a bowl of phở. His treat, he insisted. I took him to another favourite place of mine, Cộng cafe. The first time he had the opportunity to go out and have a drink since he arrived in Saigon, he said. Conversation was lively and fun. He could be my son. I am his bigger brother, he said. Yes, and his mother is the same age as I. We're all doggies.
He told me the actually trained to be a sportsman. But 'reality' caught up and he decided to come to Saigon, where he stays with an uncle. "A very small flat, but I have my room" he added.
But obviously he was not very happy. "Far from my girlfriend... we call each other every day, of course"
I encouraged him to do what felt right for him. If it is sports, it'd be better to put his energy into what he likes instead of working like a slave and be a faceless presence in a big city...
"Nobody talked to me like that" he said, seemingly moved.
"We all run after money. But my thought is that it is better to make a little less, and be with your girlfriend, and have a job that you truly like. Here, you have no life, and you're far away from home and your girlfriend"
He agreed. But to him it seemed undoable.
"And you know", I added, "you could open sportscenter in your town, and offer something different than usual clubs. You never know... I trust it can happen..."
But this unexpected encounter realy lit up my day. I have a new friend! Bách, his name is. I'm glad for this and wish Bách all the best in life.
When time came to go back home, Bách offered to give me a ride. "This time NOT as a Grab driver!"