Sunday morning, we are both at work upstairs in our office and take time out to brew a Vietnamese coffee. Strong, rich, aromatic, black and sweet. I sit watching out into our alleyway through the large glass front door with the sound of an Enya DVD playing. I contemplate life and wonder just how many different types of vendors come past our front door every day.
As I sit and watch the banana seller rides past with his enormous load contained in a timber tray, a woman with feather dusters adorning her bicycle passes by in a blaze of colour closely followed by a man selling all types of mattresses, these adorning the back of his bicycle in a kaleidoscopic stack. Vegetables, toilet paper, brooms, knife sharpening, key cutting, rubbish recycling, snacks wrapped in banana leaves, ice cream treats, manicures & pedicures, bread, chewing gum, noodles, hot dough-nuts, measure your height and weight machines are all transported by our door. This morning there were live ducks in a wicker cage, what would we do with a live duck in our house? Fish both alive and passed on, clams, oysters and other seafood, pork, sausages and items that defy my description.
The smells of hot food, the sounds of the vendors announcing their presence with rhythmic almost prayer-like phrases, the clinking of the metal bar breaking up the block ice on the corner. People in push-pull wheelchairs selling lottery tickets, cyclo drivers, the mail delivery, a leaflet flutters over our gate, another delivery of bricks for the new house. A snatch of phrase, an old lady in a conical hat with bamboo pole carrying cardboard in baskets, the music from the cassette tape seller blaring, a gate being slid open, the children’s voices as they play their simple games, the shuffling, slapping sound of sandals, a motorbike horn, a dog barking – the everyday devils and angels that pass by our door.
Enya sings on – I go back upstairs to work.