1:45 p.m. on a Sunday at The New Truong Nguyen Market in Garland.
Welcome to Snapshot, a new feature here on Central Track that aims to slow things down a bit by taking the time to appreciate and examine the overlooked slices of life that occur all around us. Through exploring an intersection, watching a neighborhood, observing a moment or taking a peek behind an oft-forgotten corner, this photo series aims to capture the sights and sounds of Dallas and the surrounding areas — things that most people might zip right past without a second glance. Here, we demand a deeper look.
1:45 p.m. on a Sunday at The New Truong Nguyen Market in Garland. According to the 2010 census, Garland has the third-largest Vietnamese population in Texas and the 17th-largest such population in America.
At the intersection of Walnut Street and Jupiter Road, you can tell. On the Northwest corner, surrounded by a long-standing row of pho restaurants, there's a store called The New Truong Nguyen Market. It's a Vietnamese grocer, but it hosts a diverse group of shoppers from across various backgrounds — and, despite its name, it's hardly new.
For as far back as I can recall, things have been hopping here on Sundays as shoppers stop by for a few purchases on their way home from services at the nearby Catholic church and Buddhist temple. Like those other trips, this one too is something of a ritual visit — and a warm one, at that. Inside, customers and store employees shout greetings and questions back and forth across the fruit and vegetable stands. Communication here is tricky — Vietnamese, English and Spanish vernaculars blend together in broken forms as people who came here from various other parts of the world freely interact. Through exaggerated facial and arm movements, these people somehow find ways of making themselves understood.
The children have it easy: They scamper about the aisles, alternately making faces in the mirrors that line the various corners of the market and sneaking away to gawk at the still-living crabs and crawfish over by the tanks. I grew up in this area. I used to be one of these kids. To this day, I remain nostalgic for the market's colorful sights, sounds and scents — and not just here, but at the Hong Kong Market Place down the street, too.
I make an effort to come back to these spots fairly often. For the food, sure, but also for the people — even the friendly security guards, who all seem to have worked at these spots for forever. There's something special to these places, and never more so on Sundays, when they always seem their most welcoming and vibrant.
I suppose things become ritual for a reason.