I play tennis in a theme park graveyard
On Thursday’s after school I take my tired and flabby body down to the local tennis courts at Phu My Hung (expatty area in District 7) and put myself through something akin to exercise. By that I mean that I flail around with a racquet in my hand hoping as if by some form of unseen magic that I will be able to strike the yellow object steaming in my direction. Occasionally I hit it and, in even rarer moments, the ball will land sweetly on the other side of the net whereupon I will put a smug smile on my face as if to say "hah, I meant that".
But this post is not about my attempts to play tennis it is instead about where I play tennis. You see I play tennis in a graveyard. Not just any graveyard mind you but the graveyard of a themepark. Not many people can say that. Not many people get to play beneath the spokes of a giant Ferris Wheel, not so much the London Eye as the Phu My Hung Eyesore. I usually park my bike not far from the faux pagoda which lies next to the merry not-go-round. Down a cracked and weed filled path lies the remains of the theme park’s backbone, the rollercoaster and next to the courts the dusty, leaning, voucher booth with the door that swings open when the wind blows. A Vietnamese flag stills flies valiantly from a flagpole tottering at 45 degrees so that the flag brushes against the nearby bushes. All the rides are still brightly painted but with a sheen of dust, a veneer of despair, a coating of calamity.
I don’t know why the courts are in a theme park graveyard but I like playing there. I like the still air, the creaking doors, the overwhelming feeling of a happy place in disrepair. I like to look up occasionally and wonder what stopped that gaily painted Ferris Wheel from turning. Was it the rumoured death of youngster aboard for the first ride or something more prosaic like a lack of income that caused this wonderland to die a slow death. In any case the ghosts of happiness roam that park and I can think of no more interesting place to play the game of tennis.