Old Curiosity Street

 In Park 23-9, D Pham Ngu Lao, Ho Chi Minh City

Old Curiosity Street

I ventured a little farther out of the Ben Thanh Market but still within its radius, and discovered a street full of shops selling old and new furniture, curios, antiques and decorative items. Old film cameras were among the goods for sale: plate and large format cut film cameras, old East German Pentacon Six SLRs, and various German and Japanese 35mm models. They looked forlorn and the dust on them suggested that it had been a very long time since anyone had removed them from their glass cabinets to examine them for purchase. 

There were bronze and stone statues, most of them of a religious nature, votives and a myriad other religious objects. There were even old gramophones, though most looked too good and too new to be antiques. I suspect they were reproductions. It's midday, and most of the proprietors were snoozing among their wares. 


The Sage and the Buddha. 

One delightful old gentleman, reclined well backwards on his chair next to a sculptured head of a Buddha, looked at me with a welcoming smile and gave my camera a quick glance. I motioned by raising the camera to my neck level and smiling at him questioningly, and he nodded his head benignly in approval, his smile widening, without a single word being exchanged between us. I took two photographs, thanked him in Vietnamese, he nodded his head again, with an even bigger smile, and I walked on. I love these quiet exchanges across cultures and languages, between two people who cannot communicate in a common tongue yet understand and approve of each other's intentions. The old man's smile says all he wants to say to the people who will see the photograph of him. 


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