Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pétanque - November 9th, 2010

Meet Ed.

In Vientiane, and maybe in the whole country, everybody has a nickname. His real name may just be Pisiphone Thangavong for all I know, but everybody calls him Ed.

Just a few meters from our house, nestled as it is against the Chinese Embassy, is a pétanque court. The most precious piece of furniture in it is the score board. There is a shaded area for drinking beer and a few rotting benches that will be replaced when there really is no more room for maneuver on them.

The pétanque court is the hang-out for the local boys and sometimes the local girls. Pétanque, it must be said, is the perfect sport for these climes.

Slow, easy and relaxed. Have a beer. Move the score marker. Pick up the balls and change sides.

This is all Ed does, and he does it well. No job or profession to speak of. When I asked him what he does, Ed answered, “nothing”. But being a pétanque genius is far from nothing.

The man has an above human ability to smash his adversary’s ball out of the court. Sometimes he plays alone and sometimes there is a whole group of them. Sometimes Ernest, a retiree from the SNCF, shows up.

Every now and then I go and play, just to plant the flag. I am hopeless at pétanque but it is good fun to hang with the ‘hood and have a beer.

There are pétanque courts like this all around the city. Gotta love that Bo Pin Yang Attitude!

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