|The country's economic hub HCM City and its people are nothing if not enterprising. — Photo vietnamnet.vn
by Thu Ngan
HCM CITY (VNS) — The country's economic hub HCM City and its people are nothing if not enterprising.
The dynamism is evident on the streets, in shopping malls and office buildings, and even in old apartment buildings.
When I first came to this fast and furious city more than three years ago, I lived in an old apartment building in District 1.
Before we even met, the landlord said on the phone, "Though the building is old, it has all kinds of services, even a market in the morning."
It sounded like hyperbole because, to me, all apartment buildings in Viet Nam were the same — serene like the place in which I was born and grew up in Ha Noi, with a few shops on the ground floor selling some essential stuff.
But she had not exaggerated. There were services available next door even on the eighth floor.
If I ran out of rice, cooking oil or a sauce, I could nip into the next apartment to buy them. If I needed vegetables and meat in the morning but did not fancy going to the market, I climbed up to the 10th floor. If I wanted hair and nail services, they were available on the fourth and ground floors. Looking for breakfast? There was one selling noodles and beverages on the second floor. And so it went.
That building is not the only such apartment building in the city, and this is a unique cultural aspect of HCM City.
Seeing that there is demand for all kinds of stuff in a place where a lot of people live, some enterprising residents decide they would go to the wholesale market and shop for their neighbours. They set up a mini market outside the building, in corridors or stairs or in their own apartment. While it might not have so many items like a normal market, it is more than enough for most daily needs.
It is a win-win deal, offering some poor people a chance to earn a little money while also helping busy people, caught up in the hectic pace of city life, save time.
These impromptu markets are not bothersome because they open at dawn and disappear in two hours' time. Only people selling stuff at home do so through the day.
In these buildings, soon after the market closed, the traders would clean the lobbies and stairs.
Not surprisingly, there are few complaints about them and, in fact, many people seem to prefer to look at their convenience instead.
Kim Chi, a District 1 resident, sums it up neatly: "There is no reason for them to complain because besides helping us save time, the market is also fun. People chat and talk or tell stories. It gives them more energy to start a new day."
A woman living in the Ly Thuong Kiet apartment building in District 10 said the market is very convenient for her and she also feels secure about the foods it sells because, after all, they are chosen by neighbours.
I no longer live in an old apartment building. But when I wake up in the morning, sometimes I just wish there is such a market in my modern apartment building.
That will allow me a few more minutes of beauty sleep and possibly give me a chance to talk to neigbours, whose presence I am not even aware of except when they slam the door shut after returning home. — VNS