In Vietnamese culture, talking about death or preparations for death are usually considered taboo until the fateful moment draws close. Most people scurry past undertakers' shops without a sideways glance and people are careful to avoid using the word four because it sounds similar to another word meaning death in case it hastens their demise.
But as land for cemeteries - or businesses, homes or factories - becomes more and more limited, the older generation has become worried about where to "lie down" when they leave this world. This explains why organising a parent's grave site in advance is becoming more important - indeed, even a sign of filial respect.
A reporter with Dien Dan Dau Tu (Business Forum) recently took a tour of real-estate transaction floors around Ha Noi to see what the demand was for cemetery plots. To his surprise, unlike the gloomy downturn in the property market for the living, the market for the plots for the departed has become busy. This, of course, has been helped by the approach of the Thanh Minh Festival (Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day) when families visit ancestral grave sites to offer chicken, pork, wine and incense.
According to Hoang Van Hoa, director of HB Land, his company has received many requests for grave plots. He said some people in Ha Noi were prepared to pay a big sum of money to buy lots as presents for their parents. Many of the requests come from overseas Vietnamese.
Nguyen Thi Mai, who bought 500sq.m of land for family graves in a cemetery near Ha Noi, said her parents became visibly happier and healthier when she presented the plots to them. "They do not have to worry about where to lie down after death anymore," she said."Whenever they have friends to visit, they joyfully produce a map of the cemetery to show where their future graves are."
It seems like resting-in-peace is no longer the delicate subject that it used to be.
A new brand of gobbledigook!
People visiting Thach An District in the northern mountain province of Cao Bang are often confused when trying to find the district government office.
On The Office's Main Entrance, All A Visitor Can Find Are The Names Of The Authority Sectors Written Without One Word Break Or Any Vietnamese Tone Marks: Huyenuy Hoidongnhandan Uybannhandanhuyenthachan.
It takes people a while to translate the jumble as "The Party Committee, the People's Council, the People's Committee of Thach Han District".
Many say the district's carelessness offends the Vietnamese language. However, others have praised the district for coming up with a format that might help it go online more quickly.
Robbers nabbed for over-acting
Three house robbers in southern Ca Mau Province's Hoa Thanh Commune overplayed their hand last Friday night. They were caught within eight hours thanks to their over-acting afterwards.
The men broke into a house owned by Sau Tu and his family as its three members were sleeping. They tied the three up while threatening them with knives. After taking money and gold, the robbers opened the fridge and stayed for a while to celebrate.
While having some food and drink they casually talked to each other as if they were in a play. "They laughed and joked like in a comedy. From their conversations, they showed they were professional robbers from HCM City," Sau Tu said to police.
The information they provided while acting the fool enabled police to quickly catch one of the suspects. The others were found soon after. An investigator said the criminals made it easy for police because they opened their mouths too much.
And their hog-tied audience was all ears! — VNS