Occam’s Razor

April 19, 2007

Partie Une De Hanoï

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 3:29 am

The reception wasn’t at all telling. While standing in line to get my luggage at the Noi Bai airport, the dry chill of Hanoi wisped on my face as if telling me in a not so subtle manner that I am now officially away from home — home being the humid, noisy and hot Manila. Hanoi’s greeting was cold and dusty, not at all how it will be in the coming days.

Right outside I see the party who would welcome me, carrying a big sign with my name and waving. I thought just a few bouquets of flowers and some paparazzi and it would have been the perfect welcome in my lost in translation existence. But as I snap back, like any newcomer, the hues and contrasts have become painfully visible. I am in a different world now and suddenly I felt I had a good reason to smile.

It was dark, not only because it’s nighttime but the streets from the Noi Bai airport to the villa where I will be parking my ass for the coming chapter in my life are not lighted. One of the people who fetched me from the airport translated the obvious in words — Vietnam is a developing country. Noticing how silently shocked I was at the sight of many motorbike trotting, helmet less Vietnamese people are on the dark streets I was assured further that they don’t run too fast. Not so reassuring though especially when you see toddlers aboard. Suddenly Britney Spears seemed like a responsible parent in comparison. And I know that’s a far fetched thought as it is.

To dampen the shock, they brought me to a relatively fancy Vietnamese restaurant a few blocks away from “the villa” — in the so-called “Forbes Park” of Vietnam. There was some celebration, at least there has to be coz all around us diners were throwing some raucous laughter and cheers that I haven’t seen before. Again, I was told not to get shocked coz this is how they party. They are not really fighting, I was assured.

I started wondering if I was reaching a critically high level of being annoying with all the reaction I was showing — or unsuccessfully trying to hide. Then I realized that within a span of 30 minutes I have been subjected to Boom! People who lift their bare feet at the plane’s seats; Boom! Chill and dust; Boom! No lights; Boom! Helmetless motor bikers; and Boom! — Electricity went off and then on at the restaurant. So I thought that it’s ok to be shocked, after all to some people I know the bare feet on the airplane’s seats alone is enough reason to go into a coma.

After the meal, we walk to the villa and then things started to look up. French inspired architecture, high ceiling, thick walls and tall elongated windows this is where I choose to start.

The next few days were uneventful. In fact, I spent the first weekend in Hanoi being online and reassuring people back home that I am ok and that Hanoi is not as bad as they probably think it is.

And then I see Hoan Kiem Lake. And just like that, I embraced Hanoi like a son who pleasantly surprises you at the most unexpected time with wonders that an adult — who believes he’s seen it all and whose expectations get easily dampened by dusty chill and motorbikes — fails to see most of the time.

I can start again I thought, and Hanoi will be the place. What a great place to start!


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