17 September 2015 – With Atty. S and Chi V

It was rainy when I set out for CG. And I was running late for lunch with NNC. I kinda knew the area because I used to live there with R and T but I just couldn’t risk taking the bus so I took the cab. Mercifully, I got into a cab with an honest driver. No tricks and meters that ticked almost every second.

Despite the gloomy weather, we had a very pleasant lunch at the company cafeteria. I wanted to observe how people in big companies socialize. It wasn’t so different from us back home, I guess. There were concessionaires offering Vietnamese food. I wasn’t so lucky because there weren’t a lot of choices left. When asked why, the service staff answered that it’s probably because of the rain. Everyone preferred to stay in the building for lunch. Yes, when it rains here, everything stops. I remember that game between Arsenal and the Vietnam National Team a couple of years ago. When it started raining, everyone left their seats and sought shelter inside the stadium. T and I were the only ones left. I don’t mind it when it rains here. Back home, it’s a different story.

Then I proceeded to the office of Atty. S. I thought I got lost because the first floor of his building was kinda empty. The cab driver directed me to the signage placed on the second floor. Okay. I’m at the right spot. We started on time.

Atty. S was very careful in responding to the questions. Basically, he gave a summary of the Land Law and when the revisions were introduced. I think this is going to be helpful when I do a short review of the legislation. Then we talked about the dynamics between the peasant action and the government responses to their actions. We also touched on the legality of using force.  So far, he hasn’t experienced any harassment. He has always been allowed to speak in court, as well.

Law firm in Vietnamese

Law firm in Vietnamese

Then Em T drove me to BTDT. I had my second meeting for the afternoon with Chi V. The objective was to see DN and the hold out peasants of LD from the perspective of someone from the community but not involved in the protest. I learned about how different life was in 2008. I also learned about the other sources of income/livelihood of the people in DN. It seems that through the years, crops have diversified and in-migration has garnered mixed reactions from the original residents of the locality. Moreover, DN has become a village with a mixed composition of residents – farmers, professionals, and apparently, a lot of young people.

She gave me the email address of her husband in case I wanted to know more about opinions on how  the hold out peasants are perceived from those who are not part of the group but in the same village. Her husband is also a journalist for HNM.

When asked if there was a chance for me to get to know and at most, speak with the head of the village, she advised me that it might be pretty difficult. They live in the same area as the village head but she hasn’t seen him nor talked to him in a while. She further advised me to come back on Saturday because there will be media event at BTDT. Unfortunately, I have a very important meeting on Saturday morning.

Taking advantage of the slight drizzle (after a quick downpour), I expressed my gratitude and exited the place. I’ll be back on the 26th to help the staff with the kids. They have a program for Tet Trung Thu during the last weekend of September.

As my mind was on overdrive, I was advised to stop thinking first and seek inspiration and clarity. So I had an excuse to chill. It was a welcome respite after a series of discussions on land issues and the community in focus.

I know that there’s still a lot to be done for my research and there’s still a lot of people to talk to. But we do what we can – we do what is humanly possible in one month with all the limitations.

Super nice dinner and chill conversations with Ryo-san --> welcome respite to data gathering

Super nice dinner and chill conversations with Ryo-san –> a very welcome respite to data gathering

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