Gossip is rife among Ha Noi housewives about a powerful love potion that will prevent their husbands from straying.
The elixir of love has long been used by ethnic San Diu women in the northeast of the country, who have kept its exact make-up a closely guarded secret. However, one canny outsider, whose name and origin are themselves cloaked in mystery, has discovered how to make the philtre, which he is prepared to sell to lovelorn couples to save their marriages. To attest to his earnestness, and the potion's potency, he is only prepared to sell it to those who can supply a marriage certificate – fearful it might fall into the hands of the unscrupulous.
The love potion is apparently a powder that is mixed with water and drunk, along with the burnt ashes of an item of clothing (preferably sweaty) belonging to the husband. The philtre it is claimed takes effect after about a week, though for how long is unclear.
Such is the popularity of the potion that the Government is concerned about possible side effects and whether it is covered by current health and safety regulations.
In the meantime, women in Ha Noi seem happy to take the risk of harming their husband's health for his undying love.
Modesty – what is it good for?
When news that a number of small-time models and
winners of obscure beauty contests had been selling sexual favours for between US$2,000-2,500 a time broke, cafes and tea shops were rife with gossip, as were, of course, social media sites. The general consensus seems to be, good for them.
Nguyen Thi Xuan, who works as a butcher at Ha Dong Market in Ha Noi, got widespread media exposure when she was asked for her views on the matter. Instead of righteous indignation, the overworked woman simply said (not without a tinge of envy): "If I were pretty, I would immediately give up selling pork to sell sex."
Xuan and her butcher-mates explained that they earned just VND300,000 ($14) a day from working in the market, or VND9 million ($400) a month.
And Xuan is by no means the exception. Other women interviewed said they would gladly trade their degrees and dignity for a pretty face and long legs – particularly when it came to light that one particular model earned $8,000 a day for accompanying a rich man on a business trip abroad. Some wags on the internet worked out that after "working" for three days the woman could earn the equivalent of:
– 144,000 packs of instant noodles (at VND3,500 each).
– 28 tonnes of high-quality rice (VND18,000 a kilo) – enough to feed an average family of four (eating 35 kilos a month) for 666 years.
– 12,600 lunches for office clerks at VND40,000 each – or lunch for one office clerk for 47.7 years
– 252,000 glasses of iced tea
– eight years' salary for a man earning VND5 million a month.
Now that is food for thought.
Dead for 20 years and still going strong
HCM City resident Nguyen Thi Ngoc is in good health, both mentally and physically, despite being 86 years old.
So you can imagine her surprise when she tried to sell her house, in which her third son Nguyen Van Tu had been living for decades, only to be told that she'd been dead for 20 years.
It seems that Tu had faked his mother's death, and even gone so far as to fill in a death certificate for the inheritance.
What is more, when Tu discovered that Ngoc wanted to sell her house in District 6 and share the proceeds of the sale among her three children, the ungrateful wretch kicked her out. It transpires that when Tu signed his mother's death certificate in 1992, he also stated that her other siblings, "who had never married," had also died, leaving him the sole heir. To Ngoc's horror two of the children on the death certificate had never even existed.
"I have been living happily with him [Tu ] for all these years," Ngoc said tearfully. "To think, he had written me off as dead 20 years ago."
The death certificate, which Ngoc now has, clearly states that she "died at home" from "old age". It was accompanied by a number of official signatures, including that of her bereaved son.
Despite her age, Ngoc is determined to right the wrong perpetrated by her son and to pursue the matter in court – even if it kills her. — VNS