Hanoi 2008 : O Donna Donna

Hanoi – oh Donna Donna When I first hit the road of Hanoi, one thing I remember is the Donna Donna song, my mom’s favorite. Written by Joan Baez popular in the mid 60’s. Hanoi is pretty much alike with what the song tells. Packed with bicycles, the Hanoi road is distinguished from any other world capital cities. ]

Women wearing colorful traditional costume and Vietnamese corn-hat while cycling down the road gives a strong nuance and identity to the city. As well, sign of a strong Communist influence, as Baez implicitly portrayed in his lyrics. Another identity of this city is sports. Everyone loves sports. Every morning elderly people gather in the public park doing exercise (a kind of Indonesia’s SKJ in the early 90’s). The younger people do badminton or soccer games, or just run for jogging. At another corner of the park near a lake, grandies do Chinese tai chi exercise, beautifully performed with red fans danced in their hands.

Also at night, people gather at the street banks for dinner with their families and relatives. Outside their house. Basil’s fragrance is another identity; soups, shrimp rolls, pho (noodles) and beef alike are in flavor of those basils. This street’s smell distinguished it from Delhi (incense) and Jakarta (cigarette). O Hanoi Donna Donna. People are so friendly, like my mom’s story of those in the seventies. Eventhough they don’t speak English but their smiles saying that we are welcomed as a family. In the night market, we sit together with the street vendors, talking about education and children, food and tourism and their hopes of the future Viet nations.

I was overwhelmed with their sincerity and life spirit. Jomima took some bracelets made of stones which was decorated with colorful characters and painting. They made it special for her. I myself prefer to enjoy the talks and eyeing on the crowds… and sometimes take a few shots.

The night market has turned its function from a mere exchange place into a system to interact and show-off their communality. Vietnam has shown the world that Communist could co-mingle with prosperity. And they portray it beautifully.

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