It’s a norm here in Vietnam that a certain market, after being moved to a new location, still has its old location called “cho Cu” (Old Market). My Dad and I used to go for breakfast in Cho Cu, which no longer does brisk business despite its prime location near the harbor (people are shopping at SuperMarkets, whose plastic baskets are overstuffed with stuff). Now we even have night markets such as Hanh Thong Tay, which during the day, is a “ghost town”.
Happy New Year, Happy New Year…..
The old markets offer a common roof, spare ventilation and without piped-in music, whether it’s in the North as in Ham Long, or the South, as in Binh Thoi.
It is said that soothing music induces more shopping. Upscale shoppers want to assert themselves (life-style) and their social status.
In the States, Walmart has crossed-over to Supermarket’s turf (best-selling item: bananas),
Supermarkets crossed over to drug stores’ territories, and Walgreen-CVS crossed over to both.
In the alley outside where I live, people hold make-shift market in the morning: vegetables, fish, pork and fruits. The supply chain is simple: slaughter house to your house, with no refrigerated intermediaries. Chicken got charcoal-grilled inside a bamboo trunk or wrapped inside wet clay, feathers still intact.
It’s a good thing I blog about these things right after lunch (mouth-watering still). Fish glistened under the golden sun, while crabs got lined up in rows and columns neatly like an Excel spreadsheet in a tray outside a restaurant (normally when alive, these legged creatures crawl uncontrollably in all directions). An old American Indian captures this scene: when one tries to crawl out, the others try to grab it right back in (as in Mission Impossible team rescue to highten the vertigo suspense on top of Dubai’s tallest building).
I had a late lunch next to a table full of restaurant staff. They were getting ready for their busy evening shift, Quang Trung style (celebrating Tet early, to pull off a military campaign that surprised the enemy during the Holidays).
I notice the stark difference in attitude and service between old and new markets: the mom-and-pop folks know your face if not your name.
The Supermarket staff work for a corporation, tend to be younger and can’t wait to get off work (factory style).
College students double up as city workers. College students as bus riders, and consumers of all kinds of goods (sweet and snacks) and services.
College students scramble for exams, for seats on the Last Train Home, for a table outside in the evening.
College students in Old Markets. College students work in New Markets, but can’t afford to shop there.
College students who Google but can’t connect the dots (not yet). Educational managers whom I visited realize those gaps between High School and College levels, and between academia and active world of work.
Welcome to the new market of talent, place and logistic cross-over (such as Boeing and I-phone, all made from parts supplied elsewhere, and later, sold back to those same countries as complete product.)
Old market, new market. Will one survive in the new century with just a warm smile and a broken back? Happy New Year, Happy New Year. May we all have our hopes, our will to try.
Let’s hope when one chapter is closed, another one will be opened. Places and time, people and opportunities: we are all in transition, from the old to the new. So is the market. Just make sure you stay alive and hungry! Better that than be “confetti on the floor”.