where there’s a wheel

Cart one wobbles by. Empty, the operator imagining a load he’s yet to find.

Cart two follows. Centimeter-thick metal wire interlaced on top. Scraps or treasures, depending on your preference, destined to find repurpose.

Three men accompany these wheels. Trousers, and untucked sweaty tee-shirts, they are working today. I wonder about their destination, where the carts are headed.

Each cart with four wheels, too big for a bicycle, too small for a car. But just right for these rounders. Flat and sturdy wood tops, made for carrying loads both light and heavy. A handle, much like you’d see on a Radio Flyer – the rudder to pilot this land-based ship. The weather-damaged platform, a sturdy 3 by 4. Wheels, all tough rubber, ready and willing to take on any potholes.

There are many potholes.

People move things around here. In a city of millions, there’s plenty of stuff that needs to move. Somehow, some way.

Trucks cruise, loaded beyond capacity, piles upon piles of burlap sacks intricately laid out and packed to maximize carrying capacity. It’s a 20-car freeway pileup perched and ready to go.

But thanks to the two or three brave riders perched atop the 20-foot load, it holds.

Even smaller trucks find a way to maximize payload and push straining shocks to their limits.

Carts are everywhere, moving, rolling, meandering. Usually loaded, sometimes hijacked and ridden downhill.

And of course, the merchants, mostly women, but men too, displaying seemingly impossible balance to carry all manner of goods to market. Bananas, gum, plantains, drinks. It’s all available, resting on their heads. Impeccable posture a prerequisite for this line of work.

The men with the carts roll off around the corner. And I am amazed what the wheels have done.

The city is on the move.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. Wheels… legs..I just love the way you started of with the different forms of wheels, carts and then went on to people, hawkers. Although you focus on these two you paint a picture of this city you’re in. Thanks for another innovative piece.


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