A friend of mine and I went out last evening photographing. We thought we would go to a particular well known neighborhood but first I wanted to check out the Buddhist Temple south of our house on Boulevard. We had no way of knowing there had been a celebration there which ended just before we arrived. There were people everywhere in a place I had only seen as sort of dormant in passing. We’ve lived in Grant Park for 40 years and, although I knew the temple was there, I had never wandered in. I walked through the gate and asked the first person I saw if it was alright for us to come in, immediate yes and the answer to the “May we photograph?” question was positive as well. It didn’t take long until we realized that we were among the friendly people I remembered from my time in The Republic of Vietnam… all Americans with Vietnamese heritage. There was food. We were handed water, watermelon, oranges, apple slices, Vietnamese “Jello,” and peaches, some to eat, some to take home.
Then there was an “event.” My friend got stung by a wasp. He is allergic to stings. Fortunately he had benedryl with him. As soon as I told our hosts what had happened we were given ice for his hand, a place to sit quietly and the offer of an “epi” pen. We stayed quite a while as he got better. Meanwhile we were educated about the routine of the temple. I gave TraMy Nguyen my email so that we could begin to keep up with the goings on there. She is the President of VAC USA (Vietnamese American Community) and President of VAC GA. Everyone was so nice to us… as I remembered. In the conflict in Viet Nam we were in their country, really messing it up but I never saw resentment on the part of our Vietnamese neighbors. I left that country in a melancholy state wondering what would happen to all of them. I hope some of them found the happy place the people we visited Sunday have found.
I made mostly snapshots. That was fine. I’m just glad everybody got back to normal. Believe me, we’ll see the folks at the temple again.