ClockMonday, 16/01/2023 10:09

Old careers at the market

TTH.VN - This afternoon, in a program with VOH, Hoang Dung, an editor at Ho Chi Minh City People’s Broadcasting Station suggested the topic about old careers. I then talked about the career of mending raincoats at Dong Ba market.

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Ty has been a raincoat mender at the Dong Ba market for almost 40 years. Photo: Le Huong

Not long ago, I visited Dong Ba market and happened to meet a man who lives on mending raincoats. Ty has been sitting at the market for nearly 4 decades, working diligently to earn his living.

Asked about his job, he smiled: "Don’t think my career is not important. It's the job of keeping people from the rain.”

In the dry season, he earns his living by mending shoes and repairing helmets. In the rainy season, he turns to mending raincoats. He says that is his main job. This career used to thrive with tens of menders working here at the Dong Ba market. People bought plastic sheets and ordered him to make raincoats or to mend their old ones. 

But that was decades ago. Raincoats are becoming cheaper and cheaper plus the appearance of convenient raincoats. People who work as raincoat menders have gradually disappeared. Now there are just Ty and his son who still keep this career. But Ty is determined not to quit his job. 

Ty sits on this side of the market and his son Hai on the other. Both of them say they can still live well on this career. Poor people around the market come to have their torn raincoats mended. Occasionally, some people ask them to make new ones. 

There is still another job at Dong Ba market which I did not mentioned because of the time limit. That is the career of welding which connects the present and the past. In the past the job of aluminum welding was very popular. There were at least one welder or two in each village making simple household items such as pots, pans, trays and mugs. This work requires skillfulness, meticulousness as well as aesthetics.

I recall one freezing day in winter when I dropped by Dong Ba market to see a welder working on some pots. Next to him were some other laborers sitting by a fire, which made me feel warm inside. When household goods were mass produced and sold everywhere, I though the career of welding was extinct. But there was still him the welder at the market. Now the welder is no more. I wonder if he has moved or quitted his job.

Dong Ba market is like a big family taking care of poor people such as Ty and his son the raincoat menders, Thanh the welder, some locksmiths, porters and tailors on the second floor of the market.

Not long ago, the Dong Ba wharf was always busy with boats and people. As the road system is improved and buses appear, the water transportation declines. The Dong Ba wharf is now a parking lot. The career of carrying people across the river in boats has disappeared too.

By Phi Tan

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