[Hanoi] The need to move

Call me a ball of energy on crack but I just really feel the urge to move, put my feet to work, dance, march, parade…whatever it is. The bar/club scene in Hanoi is dreadfully sad …well at least at the hours I’m out…no dancefloor, tables in isolation from one another, people huddling around bottles short and tall, doing their little bounces, and bobbing of the head. You know how they usually compare clubs to a zoo with all these party animals gone completely wild, well here, you’ve lost your way into the reptile section: subdued movement, reserved stares and drinking in much alcohol (rather than sun) hoping to warm things up a bit. It makes you feel  more or less like a complete awkward pack if you’re full out dancing. Anyhoo, I hadn’t gone out in a gazillion of  what seemingly is the laziness that accompanies age. The crew is now feeling the lag, and wtf, we’re like 24, already sound of cracks getting up from sitting too long, and complaints of trance music leading to migraines. Is it truly just a decline in the quality of life and health or is it just purely, people sulking in boredom so much, that 1 or 2 years after the good old days of partying, they feel like complete retired and washed-out folks? Such pessimism, I know…but complaining is a trait of any reunion, whether it be after months or purely days. Here in Hanoi, you can complain about anything and people would still listen, nodding their heads in agreement.

Today’s talk session was on Justin Mott, an American photojournalist and freelancer whose work has been featured on the New York Times, publications for the Smithsonian…etc. We focused on his life here in Hanoi, following a 17-yr-old Agent Orange victim named Nụ,
who cannot see, hear, nor speak. He first initially met her at the Friendship Village in 2007. What started out as a pure way of finding a topic to shoot some photos for work has gone beyond that. Skeptics would believe otherwise. Nevertheless, Yes, I genuinely believe that if Justin were in it for just the photos and fame of somehow capturing the un-captured then he would have left long ago. But he still visits Nụ when he can, offering her, the child in isolation, the friendship, not knowing for sure if she even realizes him, auctioning off many of his works to help find personal care for her. I find it touching, and inspirational. Have a look at Justin’s website and the story of Nụ.
And if time permits, Justin says one should come to the Friendship Village, see the children and Nụ , sometimes it’s as simple as a human touch that they need. I’m motivated and hope you are too.

Yes, I really feel the urge to move…


[Babbles] Windblown Monday

The hot spells, forecasting a dreary summer ahead, were suddenly interrupted as the week took off with rain throughout Sunday night, culminating in what was a really chilly Monday morning. Not so helpful when you have to dig yourself out of bed at 5:30 am, also not so encouraging that you have to go to this dead-empty Bao Son Paradise Park – nothing but a lifeless entertainment park that you’d likely see in the next sequel to Final Destination, and even more a blow to your already non-existent motivation to do anything is the fact that your contact at the place, supposedly the location to shoot this morning’s Talk, is still not picking up his phone after what seems like the 50th time you called him. You find yourself, despite all the damn foundation, blush and lipstick you have on, shivering and pitiful like a migratory bird diverted from the clan, struck down during a rain-storm, helpless, in the middle of no-where, abandoned by your supposed guide towards the south. We’re happy to announce though that after 2 hours of this dreadfulness, and having nearly broken 2 umbrellas, our contact finally picked up…and all was, despite being delayed, on track once again….

And so I thought…But before I continue ranting on about today’s weather, a few words on the talk, which my photos complement. Our guests were from the Brigham Young University Ballroom Dance Company, they’re a 32-member group, mostly all university students, who have travelled the world over, giving, what to me is definitely an extraordinary mix of classic ballroom figures with broadway musical with simple and utter creativity. Do definitely look them up on youtube if you’re into the whole dance scene, meanwhile here are some pictures I snapped at their performance in Hanoi.

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The talk was with the 2 artistic directors of the group as well as with 2 of the dancers themselves and I must say, despite getting to a late start, being seated on really low chairs in this reinterpretation of Hanoi-old quarters set of Bao Son Paradise Park and having our hair basically mauled by the wind gushing through every 10 seconds, and then having one or two flies satellite nearby every once in a while, the discussion was quite entertaining ^^. Dramatic events do pay off somehow, I guess. Anyhoo,that’s some behind-the-scene rant for you. Talking to the group today, definitely brings back many-a-memories of Bhangra, of days travelling (not abroad, of course) around to perform, and all of the stories on stage, backstage, en route…you name it. When will I ever fit dance into all that’s happening now?,…not really sure but definitely missing it much more after today. Must snooze now. Toodles!

[Life Babbles] Dance, P and other loves in life

Yet another performance this week, and the last bhangra dance for me this year :(. I’m already starting to feel nostalgic but this will only make senior year all the more exciting for the team. Yale bhangra was here today and they actually complimented and tried to give us some advice at the end. Apparently, there is a constant change in mainstream bhangra style so we were a bit outdated and “long” on the choreography, according to the guy. Very constructive advice and hopefully, the team will be able to draw from it as he says he would email us. On another note, there was however a stage accident today. I find it completely absurd that we were dancing on a floor full of broken glass and apparently safety pins that found themselves in my toe within the first minute. I could hear my teeth gritting under my painful smile…and tried to maintain the energy. Some of the girls got hurt also. Thankfully,I don’t think anyone noticed and the 2-second change between songs saved me time to pull the sucker out. I have had the worse of luck with stages and the bunch of stage confetti that seems to love attacking my feet so much. Let’s just say I have shed my blood in Chapin more than twice. Stage-vulnerability, completely uncontrollable unfortunately.

Hopefully, I will find some sort of dance activity in Nantes (and have more luck with the stage..^_^ ). It is my only excuse for not going to the gym regularly. “Dance practice, 1 hour of bhangra, but that’s like 1 hour of working out right there”. C. begs to differ…we had a whole plan of gym every other day at the beginning of this semester. Motivation definitely mounted high, energy burning out of our sneakers, and sweat proving how hard we had worked out….and yeah, that lasted about 2 weeks. I would naturally say, schedule got in the way and school is obviously more important than feeling fit, however that would not be doing justice to my friend “procrastination” (P). If it wasn’t for P, I would actually “have to do my homework” and “have to go to the gym”. P has given me the chance to be sitting here and babble instead of having to finish the 24 journals due on Monday. So here’s to you P, and your effort in not forcing me to “have to live my life”. Ah the turmoils of college life, a mathematical impossibility : all work + some play = not nearly enough time to do half of each. Seems like the typical wish for any college kid, but if you could have more than 24 hours in a day, wouldn’t that make life so much easier. Even like 25 hours in a day. I mean an hour more means enormously a lot when you’ve just told P to leave the room so that you can actually concentrate on finishing that paper. Then again, the mind so easily registers new habits that soon enough, 25 hours will just seem like day to day and P will still feel like hanging around that last hour. No point in wishing, I guess. I should just enjoy my time with P cause comes senior year P and I won’t get that time any more….so sad 😐 I’ll miss you, P…though I doubt you’ll ever leave further than a mile of my attention.

Too busy with my occupation of P, I forgot to realize it is now December and yay, the first snow of the season just came about 2 minutes ago…Wear a ribbon for AIDS awareness day!