In Vietnam, the phrase “Party People” usually means the Communist Party – the only political organization allowed by law. I know people who are that kind of “party people”. They range from budding journalists who need membership to enhance their careers, diplomats whose children are off to complete their graduate degrees at UT-Austin, clerks, travel agents, professors and assorted others.
But this is not a blog about those folks but rather about “My party people”, those guests who joined me for cocktails, snacks and assorted stuff befitting an American cocktail party.
I do this every so often; to celebrate new projects completed or, in this case, “sunset in Saigon” as my apartment looks fortuitously out on a gorgeous setting Western sky (as well as an incongruous ferris wheel, defunct race track, and a number of Catholic churches.)
To offer an “American style” anything creates a buzz, since there are so few of “us” here and things American remain the coin of the realm. So a trip to Metro (a Costco, BJ, Walmart enterprise but with motorbikes for sale, whole fish, and everything necessary for living in Saigon – including reasonably priced good wine) set the stage for the party. I made hummus, guacamole, salsas from scratch and, predictably, the rainy season starting with a deluge just as guests were to arrive.
Yet, they came. An educator from Nevada (Mormon) with his Vietnamese wife; Vietnamese who had earned degrees from the US (Akron Ohio interestingly) and Portland State; Fulbright applicants now working in HR for a French company that markets real estate in Burma, cosmetics in Vietnam and assorted products to the world; professors from Iran via Indiana and San Francisco; a local real estate agent, former taxi cab driver, and 3 interns from the US, hailing from an off-the-grid farm in Vermont, her boyfriend from Maine, a former football player from Pittsburgh PA and others whose stories I do not know..
The common denominator was food and fun, along with a great music soundtrack that Brandon (the guy from Pittsburgh via Maine) provided – Motown, SInatra, Elvis, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison – the canon of Western music.
Twenty somethings – sixty somethings – and everything in between joined together on a night in Saigon, Vietnam to celebrate. Celebrate sunset? That is what the invitation said, but fundamentally, it as a celebration of being alive and of the chance, circumstances or fate that brought us all together.