Job of a Lifetime

Hanoi surprised me, because I thought I would be in a city of the past, with people selling rice, working bullock drays, on unpaved potholed roads, with throwback sixties bars, and tiny, pretty women in purple silk miniskirts promising to love me long time. It was nothing like that. The Dysons had warned me. It was very modern and very loud. And, man, it was loud.

First day there, I saw a fight in the street. Two taxi drivers got into an argument over a potential fare and one stabbed the other in the back of the neck. The potential fare ran off and got on a bus. I wanted to step in and help the wounded driver, but Jim pulled me back, saying, “ No, Ed. It's their business. They don't like interference. Trust me. “

I trusted him, but I really think I should have helped.

We settled into a hotel called the Hanoi Arms and I still had three weeks to go until I settled into the teacher's cottage.

The Vietnamese government, crawling along as it was, had found me a permanent place to stay, which I was and will be forever grateful for. It was much like a modern bedsitter unit. It had an expanse to place a bed, a lounge, a desk, and television, which I never had reception for, unless it was a black screen with Viet music playing. The place had a seperate kitchen and bathroom, though. And it had electricity. I met the renevator – Tran – when I turned up the first time, with Jim and John.

“ Ready. Ready soon, “ he said, smiling, covered in paint, a man in his late forties. “ You cook here. Big cook. “ He dabbed paint at the wall, then said, “ Here, man cook all time. Good for wife. Wife cook good, man cook better. Must cook better. No cook, no good. No cook, no wife, “ then he chuckled, like this was the local knowledge and a joke to him.





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