I get off the motorcycle taxi at the entrance to the "Sedona Suite"
luxury apartments, situated on the outskirts of Hanoi, and ask the
driver to wait for me. He parks his motorcycle at a small cafe by the
main gate, orders a cup of green tea, and starts chatting to the lady
shoeshine boys spy
I've come here to teach English to a Japanese expatriate, who is also
a teacher. The security guard opens the gate and waves me in. His
colleague, sitting in a corrugated metal sentry box, looks up from a
newspaper. All eyes are on me. They cannot understand why I don't
want to ride through on the motorcycle.
A five minute walk at most, this is the only place in Hanoi where I
can walk freely, without being hassled by street-vendors, or
constantly having to avoid motorbikes, bicycles, and cars. I pause
momentarily to listen to the silence.
To the right I can see the West Lake. A fisherman is squatting
silently on the shore, and another is in a boat he is rowing with his
feet. On the far shore is the city skyline - mostly the glistening
white homes of the nouveau rich.
from the lake mud
To my right is the first of the four storey block of apartments. The
buildings are named after trees with names like "Dittany" and
"Mimosa". Here in the shadow of these buildings I enjoy their
coolness. I pass another security guard with a walkie-talkie, and
realize they have been observing and reporting to each other about me.
I nod my greeting to him. A "Honda Dream" motorbike glides past me.
This make of bike has become an iconic symbol of what modern Vietnam
girl on a motorcycle
on pillion bubble-wrapped
a bust of Uncle Ho
I arrive at "Balsam" block, where my student lives, and take the lift
to her apartment on the second floor. Standing outside her door, I
unlace my shoes and ring the bell. My student opens the door, and
invites me in.
in her dictionary
the day's new word
Steve Dolphy was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England, in 1961. He
worked in business and finance until he settled on psychology as a
career. He has travelled widely, especially in Southeast Asia over the
past 15 years. He studied Vietnamese at the Hanoi National University,
counselled expatriates in Vietnam and taught English while living in
Vietnam for four years. He and his Vietnamese wife, Hang, whose name
means "crescent moon", have two daughters. They now live in the UK
where Steve works as a clinical psychologist.
Steve started writing haiku in 1998 and has had over 190 poems
published to date. His poems have appeared in Snapshots, Still, Time
Haiku, Blithe Spirit, Presence, The Haiku Quarterly, Paper Wasp,
Kokako, The Heron's Nest, Raw Nervz, The Hermitage, and Frogpond. Some
of his work has also been anthologized. For example, in The Acorn Book
of Contemporary Haiku (Acorn Press, UK, 2000) and The New Haiku
(Snapshots Press, UK 2002). A number of his poems have also been featured in
the annual Red Moon Anthology series.
Steve's debut poetry collection, The Cry of the Duck Egg Seller (Ram
Publications, UK, ISBN 0 9545630 1 8), was published in 2004. It
consists of 79 haiku and senryu written during his time in Vietnam.