Ian and I decided to start our mini garden on the balcony in time for the summer. Soil, seeds, pots were chosen from some fancy gardening shop. Fertiliser was included. So we set out on a Sunday afternoon in our west facing balcony. It was hot. At one point, the heat was almost unbearable for even a tropical born like me, not to mention my English country boy. We had to take break inside from time to time, but we really enjoyed repotting chillies, seeding basil and rocket, trimming off stems to make a bush out of our mint plants. We named our chilli plants, and wondered whether we would be able to give any away. It is a bit silly to keep eight chilli plants for ourselves but it’s hard to choose. We would have our food out in the balcony, enjoy seeing them grow, picking and choosing. It’s fun.
I could see why my Dad used to spend so much time on his roof-top “garden” despite Hanoi’s scorching weather. Since Gau was born, he has spent most of his days looking after his beloved grandson. Somehow the garden survived its defeat by Gau for my Dad’s time and care. There are still chillies, bitter melons, spinaches, herbs and so on. He sounds pleased whenever I ask him about his plants. Back to our balcony garden, I find a similar joy.
The first two weeks of June saw sunny days with clear blue sky. The weather has been pretty decent: warm enough for T-shirt wearers and sunny enough for tan seekers. For me, it’s perfect weather for rides on my new bicycle. I often raced through quiet lanes to get to my Dutch language class, feeling like a true A’dammer. On beautiful days, I took my bike out and pedalled peacefully through (almost) deserted parks of Amsterdam. The quietness made my thoughts wander back to narrow streets of Hanoi where I grew up and learnt to love life. Back in Hanoi, I used to go out for street rides, but on scooter. Not many in Hanoi cycle anymore. Ones often rush ahead on hectic streets to go somewhere air-conditioned, less noisy and less dusty. I wonder if Hanoi would ever slow down to have its people on pedals again.
Trong quán nhỏ ở Bergen, ban nhạc chơi tưởng niệm nhạc sỹ huyền thoại người Mỹ, Johnny Cash. Năm chàng Boys named Sue diện màu đen lịch lãm, hát hòa ca mượt mà và biểu diễn rất có phong cách. Tôi thích cách bạn nhạc biến tấu mượt mà phong cách cao bồi. Tôi nhảy theo từng nốt nhạc, hò khản cổ theo Ring of Fire, và hòa mình vào cơn sốt Jackson. Quán chật kín với giới nữ nhảy múa chân trần và nam giới mặt đỏ không rõ vì bia hay vì người. Ai ai cũng hò theo lời giới thiệu của bạn nhạc dù ai đó có hiểu tiếng Hà Lan hay không. Tôi chả hiểu củ tỉ gì nhưng có cảm giác là họ nói toàn lời hay ý đẹp. Cuối cùng thì mọi người trong cái quán nhỏ đó theo nói chung một ngôn ngữ: Johny Cash.
In de taveerne van Bergen speelden de band muziek van Amerikaanse legende, Johnny Cash. De vijf Boys named Sue kleedden in chique zwart, zongen in harmonie en voerden in stijl uit. Ik hou van de manier waarop ze de “cowboy”-stijl glad maakten. Ik met vreugde danste op de muziek, zong hardop aan Ring of Fire, en transformeerde op het kookpunt van Jackson. In de taveerne dansten vrouwen op hun blote voeten en werden mannen rood. We juichten om Nederlands verhaal van de band of we het of niet begrepen. Natuurlijk begreep ik niet maar ik had een heel goed gevoel over. Allemaal hebben Johny Cash gesproken toen de dag eindigde.