Writing & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam
About a year ago I moved apartment and vowed that was the last move.
How things change though. Here I am moving into the fifth apartment on the same street. And saying the same thing.
Since the new place is only a few doors along, I moved in over the course of one night and the next day. This was occasioned because the landlady had had a card reading and 9pm on a Friday was determined as the optimum time for the first tenant of a new apartment block to move in.
So having packed an overnight bag in order to fulfil the spirit of the prediction I turned up at the appointed time.
In my other hand was a bag containing a lighter, a candle, a bag of rice and some salt. I crossed the threshold first with my lit candle and put the kettle on before the landlady and her family would enter the apartment.
Everyone seemed quite pleased and smiled at my faltering attempt to welcome them in broken Vietnamese.
Curiously, a previous move had been rescheduled from a Saturday to a Sunday to ensure it took place on a lucky day.
Nine thousand kilometres away in Scotland there is saying that a Saturday flit is a short sit. However, as my mother pointed out there’s nothing in it. We moved into the current family home on a Saturday…40 years ago.
Back to the present (Halloween weekend) and after the fourth round trip, I was beginning to regret not piling all my stuff into a taxi and driving the 30 metres or so. Anyway, by this point, I was getting a bit hot carrying boxes up and downstairs so I took my t-shirt off. Halfway along the street on my next trip, I realized I hadn’t put it back on. As I wasn’t for turning back, I pressed on having, in my mind, reached the point of no return.
I had almost made it to the new place when some guy sitting at a tra da stall on the opposite side of the street started shouting at me angrily. All I got out of his tirade was ‘béo’ (fat). Clearly, he objected to the sight of a fat, hairy topless Scotsman for some reason.
In the new apartment, I donned a vest and set forth on the return leg for yet more boxes. I made a point of yelling across the street ‘Anh oi!’ and modelling my vest top. The sarcasm seemed to escape him and I got a double thumbs up.
The rest of the move was relatively uneventful until the last trip. Over one shoulder I had a bamboo drying rack and under my other arm one of those blue and white china stool affairs.
A Westerner on a bike cycled past and joked: ‘Great Halloween costume!’
Made me laugh at the end of a long sweaty box-filled day. Thanks