Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Giving Trees and Ages of Resistance in Hanoi

Hanoi trees and a history of resistance.  

“You talk about giving trees,” Caroline observed over a bia hoi, cheap draft beer the other night.
We were looking  at a tree with  an electric wire, used to light the street outside the pub where we were sitting.
With roots extending out of the sidewalk, through the rooves trees provide shade and foundation. 
People hang fans and pots, flowers and incense, urns and vases, bowls and  lights on them, reminding  us of something  ageless  about this culture.
We started out slow, getting ready for our trip to Cambodia on Thursday.
And made our way out to explore.
An old man smiles.
As an American, there is an obligation to try to understand this place we tried to control, with its long roots, its history.
The people here are kind at every turn.
And they see each other as fighters, thwarting foes and empires,
Chinese, French, and American.
The US and France moved out of World War II straight into a colonial fight here,
one that robbed something significant from all of our collective consciences.
Permawar does  that.
Back to pool and out  into the streets.
We kept on walking through these rugged streets.
“Gritty, bustling,” my friend Erica described the hot pan soup.
You could say the same thing about the streets here. 
We’re beginning  to recognize our favorite trees and streets.
At the Odeon Brasserie, we look at the scooters zoom across the railroad tracks.
A German man says he wants to move to Hanoi.
“Its got that feeling of freedom you found in Hong Kong, in Shanghai,”
he explains over  a glass of wine.
His flight out was delayed because of the strike on Monday in Hong Kong and London.
“I think a lot of the people from Hong Kong are going to come here.”
He paused, looking up.
“The train is coming.”  
Everyone, the scooters and pedestrians, even a few cars paused.
The gate opened.
And everyone crossed, intersecting in either direction.
It’s the coolest scene in Hanoi.
“And it works,” notes the German, strolling off to dinner.
“What did you learn at the museum?” I ask the little one.
“That they are tough people.”
The world is going nuts.
Certainly our president.
Looking at  when  it all went off track.
Here in Hanoi, its not hard to see it.
We were supposed to be something else.
Yet we became an empire.
The world’s police.
From there, we stopped being a conscience.
A voice for freedom.   
Beijing says a crackdown coming.    
“Anything dead coming back to life hurts. ...”

RIP Toni!

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