Da Nang Railway Station
ĐÀ NẴNG, Vietnam
October 5, 2010

Half-an-hour left before my train. I crossed the street to a sandwich vendor.

"Bánh mì," I requested.

The plump old woman at the cart started slathering pâté into a baguette.

A skinny young woman came up to where we stood. She asked where I was from. That was the extent of her English.

"America. Mỹ," I replied.

For whatever reason she spread out a newspaper. It was all in Vietnamese. I couldn't understand it.

She pointed out an article. There were a couple photographs of men that looked like mug shots. I recognized the word "Connecticut" in the middle of whatever the text read. The woman preparing my sandwich was sprinkling cilantro into the baguette.

The skinny woman then held one of her arms up alongside one of mine and pointed, saying something in Vietnamese. Even without language ability I understood clearly. She was comparing our flesh tones. "Yes, I'm just as tanned as you are," I said in English.

The sandwich maker was wrapping my banh mi in a piece of newspaper. She waved it at each of us, making another comparison of similarity: size. She pointed the sandwich first at one of my breasts and then at one of the woman who had been sharing the article with me.

The sandwich maker chuckled. The scrawny woman scowled. I grinned and paid.

Twenty-five minutes left before my train.