She is the memorable pineapple peddler in Hanoi. She stood out from most of the other fruit street vendors that we encountered because of her smile. Unlike many of the other mobile street vendors who were often older, rugged and worn from the toil of their meager lives, she was young, clear skinned, vibrant and always smiling. Her perfect set of teeth (which is often a rarity in ViệtNam’s poor population), warm smile, petite frame balancing two heavy baskets of pineapples and ease in navigating the congested streets had us mesmerized. “Quả dưá cuả chị bao nhiêu vẩy?” (Miss, how much are your pineapples?), I shouted above the clamor of city noise. She burst out, “3,000 dong!”, and she scurried across the intersection to greet us. To see her excitement at possibly making a sale, her precious load and her effortless ability to snake through the dense pool of scooters, we knew we had committed to buying something. Besides, at only about 20 cents for a pineapple, the deal was sealed.
Her goods were small, sightly crunchy and super sweet pineapples,
and her hands were equally small, delicate and adept.
After a few downward swipes of her old, fiercely sharp knife,
the pineapple was peeled just perfectly, without fruit waste.
Then we were fixated on her crouched position, her slender fingers ,
her bruised thumb, and her quick, precise knife skills.
Within seconds, she carefully sliced out the eyes of the pineapple,
all in a perfect line, giving the fruit a completely new personality.
Before we could shoot any extra frames, her work was complete,
edible, delicious and worthy well beyond the scant 20 cents that she asks for.
She is someone who, no matter how challenging her life may be, see’s beauty,
joy and integrity in everything that comes her way.
This is an example of an inspiring person.
The “Pineapple” word: Vietnam’s 3 major regions (North, Central and South) usually have different words to define “pineapple”: North (Quả dưá), Central (traí khốm), South (traí thơm). My family, scattered in all 3 regions, argue within each other what to call it. I don’t like to argue over silly, regional differences. I cherish each regions cultural uniqueness. Call it what you like, it’s all the same fruit. There is no “right” nor “wrong”. – Diane
Previous Viet-Nam posts you might enjoy reading and viewing:
- Heading to Viet-Nam & Twitters
- Return from Viet-Nam, fresh perspectives
- An American in the family
- Pineapple peddler in Hanoi
- When Oranges are Green
- The Face – elderly woman in Hoi An