What is Hanoi Part 2. Doi Can street provides

What is Hanoi? Part two.

Doi Can Street provides.

 

Down at street level the sidewalks – pavements are packed

Food stalls spill in to the road where adults sit on kindergarten stools

Food is plentiful and cheap

Everything you would come to expect from a Vietnamese road side

Mi Xao, Banh Cuon, Bun Rieu Ca, Ga, Bo, Tea stores straight from Taiwan

Popeyes chicken, BK, Dominos, Loterria, coffe shops

Coffee shops slinging coffee laced with amphetamines,

Stay out of the Old Quarter if you want good VN cuisine

The street food always lives where the working-class do.

Doi Can st. provides. The two mile stretch I’ve called home.

Our purple, giraffe-skin blanket, all my clothes and shoes

All the food we could ever eat, padlocks, scooters, toys, lottery tickets

Vodka, beers, cabbage, eye-pleasing tropical fruits, karaoke bars,

Artisan Korean ice noodles, a downed B-52 bomber, toolshops, cigarettes,

Brooms, chickens – live chickens, fighting chickens, baby chickens,

Chickens under up-turned beer crates, western bars, Bia Hoi, post offices, online gaming, trees, weed, haircuts and paint.

No pornography.

All this beside a constant stream of scooters, mopeds and motorcycles

But, the cars can only go one way and the trucks blast through

The over-cropping trees that smash branches down

on unsuspecting pedestrians.

You have to watch your step while meandering along Doi Can st.

Burning charcoals and fans with no protective cages sit on the ground next to angry dogs chained to trees.

All the wonderful things to burn, lacerate, bite and infect the careless.

Scooters drive the wrong way down the street so you have to keep your eye on the road at all times. Because the little electric scooters creep up on you and threaten to run you over in silent murder.

You have to learn to weave and see ten paces ahead of you at all times.

Don’t get mad at the elderly lady lazily strolling in front of you.

She’s walking slow because she’s been walking her whole life towards a job

That is undoubtedly a lot worse then any I’ve ever had.

What is Hanoi? Part One. Rooftops and Balconies

What is Hanoi – Part One

 

Rooftops and Balconies

 

Like Vietnam’s dirty laundry the air hangs in the sky

Covering the bikes, trees, children and lining the lungs of the infants

Empty beer cans roll around on my balcony from the occasional

Gust of wind

The neighbouring rooster clucks. Occasionally cock-a-doodle-doos

From the adjacent balcony in his bird-cage hell.

We talk to him – the rooster – we speak in chicken and he responds

The motorbikes hum up and down the alleyway

Down at street level the kids run, chasing rats

Cockroaches, kittens, chickens and dogs.

Moisture in the air constantly threatening damp

The smell of mould behind the bathroom tiles

Red-tin rooftops as far as the eye can see

Ho Chi Minh’s flag – red as a dildo in the night

Flaps a mile away next to the local hero’s final resting place.

Balcony upon balcony with hanging clothes, Bonsai trees and

The ever-present silver and blue tanks that sit on every rooftop.

Lightning rods and cell-phone towers jostle for position

In a city where the lightning prefers to hit people riding scooters in the rain during the insane summer storm season with all its torrential rain.

Massive flooding and an hilarious increase in poncho wearing.

Ponchos for bikes, double ponchos for families and lovers

Long ponchos, green ponchos, multi-coloured ponchos

with viewing windows. But, no helmets for the kids.

Just plastic caps – high mortality rates in the rain.

Man Flu

Men get a bad rap when it comes to having the flu. Somewhere along the ages it was decided that ‘man-flu’ is some sort of faux-illness that men suffer from in order to get an exaggerated amount of sympathy from loved ones. Well, fuck that. You see, I don’t have anyone to give me any sympathy and I’ve been bed-ridden and feeling like absolute shit for over a week now. And I’m not just talking the ‘sniffles’ and a mild headache. I’m talking fall-down dizziness, migraines, vomiting, frozen chills while sweating like a hardcore nudist in the house-of-commons and a complete lack of appetite. And for someone who likes to eat, and eat well, that might be the most distressing of all.

Who was it that coined the phrase ‘man-flu’ anyway? Why is it women get all the sympathy when it comes to pain – and sure I’ll give them child-birth, that’s a given, but I get kidney stones, and the doctor who had his finger up my asshole, while I was zoned out on morphine the first time I ever got one, after riding in an ambulance thinking I was going to die with my then-girlfriend holding my hand like some kind of battle-field casualty, told me it is the closest thing a man will ever feel to the pain of child-birth. So I feel like I have at least a little right to give my tuppence.

There’s something wholeheartedly peculiar about being ill and having no one around to ‘soothe your brow’ or whisper sweet nonsensical bullshit in your ear to make you feel better. Because you’re stuck with your own mind and all the madness that creeps in when you’re effectively trapped inside yourself for days on end feeling like the world is smashing down around you like an apocalyptic renegade. Strange thoughts meander around your head with their hands clasped behind their backs, as if the inside of your head is a Gestapo interrogation room, and the SS soldier with his pressed suit and shiny clunking boots is looking for answers as to why you are so ill – but you have no answers, and each time you say you don’t know the migraine gets worse and it’s as if he has complete control over your pain. Like lighting bolts in your head these fever induced hallucinations behind your eyes make you start to go mad, make you believe that you truly are in an Arizona prison sweatbox with a crazed scorpion talking to you from a small hole in the sand and occasionally stabbing at your legs with his poisoned glands. Taunting you with his wry little grin, laughing at you for being ill and so completely helpless.

And then you snap out of it, and you’re parched, and you realise you’ve been sleeping in an odd position in the middle of the day and you have pins and needles in your leg where the scorpion was stinging you and there’s a black and white movie on the tv flickering in the background – and there’s the SS officer, interrogating a prisoner of war and you realise you aren’t mad. You’ve just got the flu.

Do not alight here.

It’s just me now, fighting the wind and blowing smoke at the rain. Back in the city after a peculiar stint in my hometown; seems Springsteen may have been wrong in some respects, but alas, I digress, life just isn’t the same without her and I have to get used to that.

I’m boring myself these days thinking about my woe-betide broken heart and the subsequent fallout that ensued. I want to smoke real cigarettes and drink myself to death but instead I’m following this bullshit trend and I think it’s giving me gum disease and making my hair fall out. Writing without a cigarette hanging off my lip doesn’t feel right; it feels empty, if that’s even possible? Who knows? Maybe I should go out and buy a pack of smokes and a bottle of wine and do it right. It couldn’t be worse than the smell of damp that permeates the walls in my new bedsit. The walls are so thin I can hear my neighbours breathing at night, hear them defecating in the morning and hear them making love at all hours of the day. Just to rub it in my face that happy couples like to have sex. I live in a basement flat now, underground like a gnome below the pavement where buses glide past my window and drunks shelter in the bus-stop. I hear them at late hours mumbling to themselves, talking to their plastic bags and eating the cockroaches in their pockets. Sometimes I consider going out there to sit with them and grab a taste of the hobo-life. Maybe some perspective will lift me out of this funk.

I saw a couple of tramps sitting on the floor on Christmas day sharing a can of Tenants Super and I was jealous, jealous that they had someone to spend Christmas with. It’s ok though, because the bus periodically stops outside my window for ten seconds at a time, and for those ten seconds I can pretend that the people sitting on the top deck, looking in at me, aren’t going to leave, but they always do… they always do.

Just me and my tiny kettle only big enough to make two cups of tea – something that could be beautifully romantic, turns into something that mocks you when you drink tea by the pint, because it only holds enough water for one; another constant reminder of loneliness. My cutlery and crockery looks so ridiculous all stacked up in the cupboard, knowing it isn’t going to be used. It will lay there and gather dust and become stained from the carbon monoxide seeping in through the windows and hope for the day when I have company and it may get the chance to be used again. When you live alone you only use one plate, one bowl, one cup, one knife, one fork – you get the picture. And when you’re finished using it, you just rinse it off and put it back, because really – who gives a fuck?

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