Wednesday, 9 April 2008

hanoi space

It is hard to conceive of the structure of Hanoi unless you have a Borges bent to your thinking. There are the big streets that the tourists trot down, weaving between the street cookers, bike repair men and motorbikes. The shops and houses appear to make a unbroken chaotic frontage extending as far as you stumble. But look closer and scooters dart from darkened spaces between shop fronts, people slide in and out of these unseen passage ways. Descend into these tight spaces and you find other alleys, passage ways, squeeze spaces. And from these diverge even more conduits of human traffic with walls that tower four stories above, and doors opening onto living cum workspaces that themselves are divided up into human sized pods where inevitably there is a mattress or straw mat for rest. Even then it continues subdividing so the cats have their spaces, and the rats theirs as well. Each square formed by the intersection of four roads is a termite nest of humanity and more - not even just in the floor plan - but stretching up into the sky. Steps, spiral staircases and ladders extending into the gloom of the air. A fractal space folding into and onto itself repeatedly and endlessly. Each block a cartographers nightmare, a madman's dream.

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