The setting was Ho Chi Minh city. It was a dreary evening weather wise as it has been drizzling a good part of the day and the heavens decided to open up in the evening as the sky darkened. But framed against its iconic old buildings, it was a soulful nostalgic sort of feel. Songs from the 70s Taiwanese tear jerkers were playing in my head.
I’ve read that vietnam is known for its porcelain or ceramic bowls and plates and paraphernalia. They have antiques of course but they also mass produce these things so the mass produced stuff should be cheap.
The scary part of this fable is that in my old age I’ve been experiencing a disturbing affinity for these blue and white Chinese looking things. I tried to fight my rising nausea but it’s there. The Caucasian exotica factor. I was completely disgusted with myself.
But I found myself on a rainy gloomy evening on a puddle strewn street selling these things, sent to that address by a knowledgable local. A few shops lined up selling similar things – mass produced but old dusty stuff, ceramics, old looking glass bottles and all manner of old looking stuff.
Then I reached the last shop. Completely different with only the blue porcelain . A bored looking guy who only spoke Vietnamese. And I made him pull out stuff under his shelves completely covered in dust and behind stacks of stuff. And we haggled – with our eyes and facial expressions – looking appalled and shocked at each other’s counter proposals. I became a 53 year old menopausal Ang Mo Kio Aunty bargaining over two lemons. I felt the dragon unleashed.
I’m not proud of myself. I’ve taught my children that you bargain hard not to get ripped off but once you got a price you are happy with, you stop and remember that for the other guy, he’s doing it for food on his table . But I went overboard. It was the end of a tiring day and I was slightly drenched and I was irritable and was in fighting mood. So I made it clear that I was going to buy all or nothing and I would walk. Like I said, not proud.
So I bought this Dragon thing – only old looking thing in the shop. There were many similar modern ones same size with Dragons printed and not embossed and he was pushing me to purchase those . This is a single piece stashed far inside and very dusty and the moment I set eyes on it, I wanted it.
The Dragon thing was bargained down to S$40. The Phoenix Pot became S$20 and these dragon and Phoenix soup bowls were $20. Wait for it – yes all 8 combined for S$20.
It’s just insane. All on a rainy evening.
Post Scrip :
In a parallel universe , Vietnamese guy is probably on Facebook Vietnam ………
HOW I SOLD MY GRANDFATHER’S SPITOON
It was a dreary rain kissed evening.
I’m not proud of myself.
In swaggered this cocky slightly dumb looking guy. Probably thought he was gangsta. I quickly switched off BBC even though I like “hard talk” and assumed my “I no speak English routine “…………..