Sarah told me last year’s Tet festivities were special because supposedly it was a very lucky year that only comes around once in a blue moon (excuse the lunar pun). I think this year’s prelude to Tet is trying to even out the celestial imbalance.
Ambivalence ruled with an iron fist. Firstly, last Sunday one of my friends and co-teacher’s mother was in a horrible motorbike accident and things don’t look good. Then I met a really nice couple on Thursday who I went out with to the “Rice Throwing” restaurant (Com Nieu Sai Gon) where the waiters break clay pots of rice and toss them across the room which was great, only to have my motorbike snatched in a blink of an eye. By this time the inescapable feeling of destiny at work already started creeping up my spine.
On Saturday night, another friend and co-teacher’s grandmother died and Sarah’s brother’s plans to visit went awry only to semi-rebalance themselves later.
I found out I had to pay 14 million dong (about $850) for my motorbike and our plans for Myanmar were dealt another blow by a travel agent who mistakenly told us we don’t need to worry about visas only to find out later we only have 10 days to get one from the Myanmar Embassy in Hanoi.
This must be it, I thought, the wheel has turned on what could be considered a generally privileged and carefree year so far. But today I realised that karma always works with a plan. Energies flow in a certain direction but, as the Second Law of Thermodynamics states, cannot be destroyed so thus must be channelled somewhere and, in this case, returned.
Mr Hung and his daughter Tram from Kim’s Café were awesome with the bike fiasco, giving me until after Tet to repay them and Tram came with to the police and sorted everything out. They gave me a new bike nearly two months free hire as well. We met an awesome woman – Nhuy – who sorted out the visas in a flash and we’re getting our passports back at the end of the week (touch karma’s wooden coffee table) and I’m getting paid today. I can’t undo the terrible personal losses suffered by my friends, but I can give them words of encouragement and stand by them. What’s done can’t be undone or reversed but can be shaped into something less than terrible with the right frame of mind, which may sound offhandishly easy to say but I truly believe it.
My sister and I used to watch this show on the Carlton Food network called Jimmy’s Farm – about a successful chef from London who gave it all up to breed pigs and open his own farmstall in the English countryside. He faced incredible obstacles and challenges (not least of which being his gay rare-breed stud-pig who was more interested in shagging the bulls than the sows). When things were at their worse – the farm being on the brink of being repossessed - Jimmy would utter the immortal words in his broad London accent: “It’ll be fine.”