Tuesday

A very public life.

The Vietnamese live a large part of their lives outside the walls of their houses. The streets in every city, town and village are overflowing with people playing games, socializing or just watching the world go by as they eat, drink or just sit. They do a lot of work out on the street, too: they sell food in ephemeral little street food stands, they run tiny "corner stores" out of a few little cabinets, selling water, chewing gum, cigarettes and soft drinks or do shoe, bicycle and motorcycle repairs while you wait. There are tailoring stands complete with sewing machines dotting sections of footpaths on busy roads, and hairdressers with mirrors up on sidewalk walls, reclining barber's chairs and boom boxes playing jazz music while you are getting groomed.
Camera repairs on the sidewalk: Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnamese houses do not have the sharply defined social demarcation that we have in the West. Life flows seamlessly from the front room – which is a family sitting room that might also double up as a bedroom or workshop and garaging for the family's prized motorcycles – through the courtyard, if there is one, and out into the street. People walking by have full view into the houses they pass.
Sidewalk fruit vendor, Hoi An
Three generations, Hoi An

Security comes down when the family retires for the night. Only then do you see physical barriers: shutters, gates, and high, impenetrable iron bars. Only then does life go off view.
Corner convenience store, Hoi An
Even though so much of this living is in full view, I could not, in the name of all that is proper and ethical, intrude into it with my camera lens. There are always photographs that should not be taken. One just has to remember the images.
Chill out time, outdoor cafè, Ho Chi Minh City
Learning the ropes, Ho Chi Minh City

1 comment: