Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Hanoi Moments

I was recently asked to write something about Nosey in Newtown, my old blog, which saw me sifting through its contents, three years after I stopped updating it. 

I came across these, which I photographed around Newtown, and which are still as awesome today as they were in 2008:

I love, love, love this idea of memorialising the sites of significantly insignificant moments in your personal history, and associating them with the place where they happened. 

To really know a place, to have a relationship with it, is to walk amongst these associations and memories. They’re not necessarily important or noteworthy to anyone but you - like those commemorated above - but they forever connect you to where you are. When your collection of connections is large enough, you have yourself a home.   

My Australian home, Newtown, is thick with spatial souvenirs. As I walk down any street, I pick my way through reminders of all the other times I’ve trod the same footpath: each year when the cement under my feet is cushioned by the fallen Jacaranda flowers, it’s a reminder of the last.

Hanoi is crowded with connections too now. I could plaster my own paper plaques all over this town...

This was where we debated how much money we’d have to be paid to swim across Truc Bach lake:

This is where I misunderstood the silken tofu seller and started bargaining, fiercely, for a higher price than what she was actually offering: 

This is where the bus stopped and the driver opened the door so he could watch the Vietnam – Singapore soccer match on the cafĂ©’s television:

This is where I watched a beautiful orange butterfly floating through the traffic, until the driver in front of me snatched at it, crushed it up in her fingers, and wiped her hands together to scatter its golden dust:

This is where I first met up for a coffee with a brand new person, and by the end of the cup, I had a brand new friend: 

This is where I was horrified by the sight of a large, furry animal - maybe a bear? – tied on to the back of a bicycle in traffic, but as I got closer, I saw that it was a large, furry stuffed toy dog, with button eyes and floppy ears:

This is where Nathan and I had a competition to see who could stay on their bike the longest without pedalling:

This is where a particularly long dog is sometimes chained up, prompting Nathan and I to both shout “LONG DOG” as we pass:

This is where a schoolgirl cycled up to me, said hello, reached over to shake my hand, asked where I was from, said goodbye, and cycled off:

This is the spot where I stood when I knew I would spend the rest of my life with Nathan:

The thing about memorials, even those made of paper, is that they’re forever. I know that if I ever return to Hanoi, no matter how much it has changed, I’ll feel right at home. 

20 comments:

  1. This is such a magnificent post! Isn't it great to stumble upon old memories.

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    1. Thanks Mardijane! It really is. I think "memory lane" is a perfect expression for it.

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  2. http://g.co/maps/kzm66

    Did you ever blog about this place? I think you would recall if you had.

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    1. That is awesome. And no I didn't. Rozelle wasn't covered by my job description.

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  3. Hey, I'm reading your blog at last. This is lovely, bought a little tear to my eye.

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    1. Thanks Sarah (about time!). I look forward to making you cry many more times in the future.

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  4. A beautiful post! Here's to many more memorialise-worthy (?) moments, both in Hanoi and Newtown!

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    1. Thanks Lee Tran! I think they'll be coming thick and fast in the next couple of months. x

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  5. Fab post Tabitha. I loved it. After being here a while I tend to fall into the trap whereby familiarity breeds....well......familiarity! I don't even notice that I am not noticing anymore!

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    1. Thanks Dani. Couldn't agree more. "Noticing" becomes more and more an active pursuit.

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  6. Absolutely beautiful.There is nothing more to say

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  7. Nice to meet you!
    Do you like living in Viet Nam?
    I need to learn English? You can help me!
    I might send email for you?
    My email adress : quyetkhongthoahiep91@gmail.com

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    1. I do like living in Vietnam, but I don't teach English, sorry.

      Check out http://tnhvietnam.xemzi.com/ for English clubs and English tutors.

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  8. Thanks Tabitha

    Going to be calling out "Long Dog!" whenever I pass one on my bike from now on.

    Hmmm... you may have started a cult.... :)

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    1. Hanoi has so many! Those short-legged, long guys... I love 'em. A cult I'd happily join!

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  9. I thought I was the only victim of the shake hands/cycle off girl! After living on Chau Long for over a year, she always greeted me with exactly the same repertoire with seemingly no memory that the ritual was repeated every few weeks.

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    1. Yes! She has actually approached me again since I posted this, on Quan Thanh. I like her enthusiasm.

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  10. Plaques on rocks are awesome idea! Awesome post you got here ^^

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  11. Nice post, I really enjoyed to read your post, and very beautifully you shared your experience about Hanoi. Thanks for sharing.

    Tours Vietnam, Indochina Legend Travel Group

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