Most of our group opted to take taxis into Hanoi for shopping and lunch, but some of the diehards stayed at the airport. And for the half-dozen who wanted to write, I made up these writing-on-the-go-at-the-airport prompts:
Go out on your own (you will get much better results doing these activities alone) and:
1. Go into a café or a coffee shop or sit on a bench and eavesdrop on a conversation. It could be in English, Vietnamese, or another language, one you understand or don’t understand. Surreptitiously observe body language, gestures, body proximity and other cues if you don’t understand the language. If you do understand the language, pull out a couple of key lines of dialogue and jot them down. Write a fictional piece about the people in the conversation, their lives, their relationship, and any dilemma they may be grappling with. Let your imagination go wild.
2. Start a conversation with a Vietnamese person. It could be your waiter or the clerk in a shop or someone waiting for a flight. Find someone who has at least a little English and wants to practice, and learn about their life. Write about the person and your conversation.
3. Eat a food that is totally unrecognizable to you. Write about the experience: your feelings, your fears, your repulsion, your courage, the food itself and what it was like to eat it. Afterwards, see if you can learn something about what you just tasted.
We’re going to meet at the gate two hours before boarding, four hours from now, to share our writing.