[Babbles] Rainy Days and Mondays

Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hanging around, nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

So said the anorexia-ridden Karen Carpenter back in her heydays. It’s depressing music to listen to, especially, today, a Monday, on which it just happened to pour cats and dogs and there was no doubt in my mind that somehow I needed to turn this song on and it’d fit perfectly. What a darn diggity downright punch-to-the-face way of starting out a week! There’s irony in the way I’ve been trying to work my life around plans and then those same plans backfire on me, rendering all previous efforts, to my disappointment, in vain. So yes, I had been for the last month – pencil-scratching, mobile-negotiating, forgoing any previous commitments that I would have these coming days just so this could happen, and now it’s not…so it’s a bloW. I’m being such a drama wreck, I know, but I literally stood in the hallway of my office building, gritting my teeth, anger, bitterness and pure disappointment all bagged up, and spewing out from under my breath. I don’t get so overly charged like this often so apologize for the cyber outburst… you could say it’s been hell of a day – soon to be over , thank goodness.

The only highlight of today, my series of talk sessions continue with a 16-year-old Spanish model – the gorgeous Andrea Aybar – more lovingly known in Vietnamese as “An”. She’s a stunning girl, of course, she’s a model for crying out loud. Google her and you’ll see. But what strikes me is she’s equally and perhaps even more charming in her conversation in English….and above all…in Vietnamese! This girl can speak Vietnamese like no other expat I’ve met. I might even say she’s ridiculously more awesome than I am in the slangs’ categories. An has lived in Vietnam for 8 years – half of her lifetime and really amazed me when she shared her thoughts of how going back to Spain of recent was for her “strange”. She proudly says that despite her appearances, she’s 100% Vietnamese and has even become a matchmaker between her father and a Vietnamese woman – realizing her dream of having a Vietnamese mother, and obtaining Vietnamese nationality…now that’s patriotism for you right there, and you don’t even need a flag to wave it or go stand out on Hoan Kiem Lake, heralding against China (no offense) to prove it.

Got me thinking a bit about the term of “TCK”, you know “third-culture kid” – where your life growing up, led by the circumstances of family moving about, has engrained in you influences of culture other than that of your original root, thus rendering your identity a melange of your experiences here and there. An can be thought of as a TCK who has done away with repatriation and become one of the locals herself. I think of myself as a TCK every so often…, my first move was also when I was 8, accumulated time away from my home country: also nearly half of my lifetime. I’m not certain, but for sure, I’ve always passed points of feeling out of place at either one place or the either, feeling like I own this split identity  that doesn’t relate me fully, as much as I would want, to Vietnam…or to anywhere else for that matter. Thinking about it, most of my close friends during college were TCKs, or so I understood them to be. The US you could say, the boiling pot it is known to be, is a pot of TCKs wondering at one point or another in their lifetime, what makes up their identity. Those thoughts for me have slowly blurred after having settled here now for 2 years, but always a fascination to me.

Rainy days and mondays, sad but leaves space for thinking… adieu!

For more of read on TCKs, do check out: DENIZEN MAG – The TCK Magazine


[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!