Friday, January 26, 2007

A moment
Around town you can see the vans lurk. Inside the eyes of men in uniform scan the paths. Ahead street vendors hightail it with their baskets of strawberries or water melons or flowers or whatever is ripe or in season. Old ladies at tea stalls pack up their miniature stools and shove their kettles inside the door. Deliverymen run out of shops mid-delivery to drive around the block. You see, blocking the paths is illegal. Any object blocking the path is subject to confiscation. Which is why street cafes have such cheap chairs - so it doesn't matter if they're taken. It's nothing new, if you live here in Hanoi you've seen the chairs, fruit, bicylces and pots being hurled in the back of the van, heard the pitiful pleas of the owner begging for clemency.

But the other day, a first of sorts. On a winter's morning, as the boys in the back of the van sat shivering in the cold, a woman cooking (chesnuts roasting on a open fire? Perhaps it was sweetcorn or chao) with a bep than is spotted on the street. Her stove is duly confiscated - nothing else.

One of the men then places it carefully in the middle of the back of the van, which lurches forward, and rolls away; the men in the back then huddle around their heater and warm their icy hands, the sounds of the woman shouting are soon left behind, soon unheard, soon forgotten.

I just wanted to say, I've never seen a bep than confiscated before. That's all.

3 comments:

Mike said...

Ahh, Hanoi in the winter. Can't say I miss a god-damn thing about it.

Mike

elliott said...

H.A.N.O.I.: Hawkers Against Nefarious Oven Industry – think the boys in blue were out to prevent the spread of this splinter cell?

Hercé said...

teddy, story?