Thursday, December 3, 2009

Watching The Game

Ryan Valentine scores the goal that keeps Wrex...Image via Wikipedia
So after a fruitless search for a contact lens case to replace the one I left behind in Phnom Penh, I throw in the towel and find a small watering hole filled with locals. The place is jammed and I am squeezed into a chair by a wall, using a tiny footstool as my table.

I am the only non Vietnamese person in the joint, which suits me just fine. You don't find places like this from the window of the tour bus. The reason the place is packed is due to a Thailand-Vietnam soccer match, part of an Asian tournament. Of course I am cheering for Vietnam, given my burgeoning respect for the people here and my secret crush on the city of Saigon. Plus the waitresses are devastatingly charming.

Thailand scores in the second half to take a 1-0 lead, and the energy in the bar sinks like a hot air baloon with a very large leak. In the final seconds of regulation Vietnam is awarded a penalty kick, which is successfully executed. The place explodes in bedlam, and I find myself joining the crowd on its feet in celebration. I am glowing with happiness, not for myself, but as an expression of delight at the exuberance around me.

The game ends in a draw, but it feels like a victory. I stumble out into the Saigon night, greeted by a parade of cars and scooters honking and waving flags. For a brief instance I feel like I am back in Toronto during the World Cup.

It may be hard to see sometimes, but there is so much more in this world that bring us together when compared with the few things that keep us apart. I guess its all about perspective.