Hidden Figures revealed in Hanoi

It’s been a long time since I came back to American Center, this time, for a short heat and mental escape. Both reasons. I got through the security gate and immediately facing a bunch of Vietnamese high school and undergraduate students talking with each other in loud american english. The charming woman with a stylish dress who has been working there greeted us with a smile.

– Coke & popcorn are outside.

“Free food !!!”, the scarcity mindset that dominated me for nearly a month makes that industrial coke suddenly very attractive. “Hmm, do I deserve it? But it’s free food”, I took a sip of coke without touching the popcorn.

Soon enough we came to the event & movie room, opposite to the library section. An American woman stood up to introduce the movie called “Hidden Figures”, in which the setting is 1960s while black segregation was prevalent. The main characters were 3 bright black women working for NASA, hoping to help US not behind in the space race.

The plot is predictable – the 3 black women are, in the beginning, very talented. They are so talented that NASA cannot put segregation rules on them, eventually. And sure, something’s gonna happen to change racism. A positive vibe is radiant from the screen.

It’s not difficult to see why hordes of teenagers rush here (and will be more in summer). It’s $ from America spent in educational resources that we can benefit, in a regime of instructing a positive image of that country.

Thank u, American tax payers. For your WiFi, books, coke & movie.


P/S: despite all that, the film is quite idealistic. The women there are top notch. They are built to succeed and there is not any moment that they lose faith or spirit, which is too hyped up.

But it’s still a movie to inform I guess. Thank u

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Karma in digital age

Yesterday I read an article in New York Times and decided to stalk the author. Why? Cause it is so easy, all it takes is typing the name of a person in Facebook, so, why not? Access to more information.

Today on coming back to office, I got 2 friend requests, one from a random man who claims he works for NASA. “Another predator”, I thought, then cheekily I click okay. The conversation goes in a very typical way

Nasa man – Hello how are you?
Me – I am fine.
Nasa man – Very nice to meet you.
Me – (Gosh this is going forever, and I just had a super long riding day with a group of 7 and a small child to tag along. No time for text play)
Me- Hey, are you looking for a lover? If you do, I already have one.
Nasa man – You mean on Internet?
Me- No I mean for real.
Nasa man- You have another one on the Internet?
Me- No they are the same. The real one and virtual one are the same person.
Nasa man- You mean in Facebook? Have you met him yet?
Me- Unfriend me.
Nasa man- Okay I want to be a friend. Hey do you have any beautiful nice looking friend like you who speaks English? I used to work for NASA and used to be a project manager of bla bla bla.

………………….
Actually my main purpose of accepting then unfriending that one is to write this story. Mission accomplished. Maybe next time I am gonna play a bit further.

The frame

14597295_1065065116946468_3141465433937281024_n1Saymon took me to his farmstay in Luang Prabang . We sit on a chair sipping water while his carpenter was singing loudly and terribly after a Thai song (Thai and Laos languages are similar).

What kind of music do you like?”, I ask.

Ah, Laos people often listen to…”

I smiled. This is a tour guide being considerate, thinking I am just exploring Laos culture.

No, I mean, what kind of music do YOU personally like?”

Ah, I like countryside music. I like to stay in a farm when I don’t work. See that mountain top over there? There is trekking route leading to the top, and this area has no traffic noise“.

This reminds me of Mai Châu of Northwest Vietnam or even my home in the central. The window opens up a landscape that looks like a painting, absolutely lovely in a poetic way. Everything is so far yet so close, so strange yet so familiar.

“Do you want to come to a waterfall today?
Waterfall? I have been to another waterfall the other day.

This one is different.

But…

It is okay, I am free today anyway”

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Kuang Xi waterfall

When we reached Kuang Xi, standing at the foot of that roaming current of water, a grandiosely refreshing feeling overwhelmed me. I closed my eyes, absorbing millions pieces of water dust soaking my face and shirt, totally let it dominate.

At that moment of being 100% loose, I smiled when I remembered a short conversation we had at lunch with a random person when he commented

You are lucky to be with him and experience local things in a different way

To which I did not answer. I feel the same level of luck at that moment as if I were riding in Saigon rain or when I am typing words in the cafe of the low end hostel I stay. But one thing I know for sure is that I want to talk with that random person again.

“I used to be a tour guide too”, he said.

“What made you stop?”

“Because it limits my creativity”

“What are you doing at the moment?”

“I am a chef”

I stopped eating right at the same time he was about to leave.

“You are leaving now?”, I ask.

“Yes”

“Do you come back here?”

“No, I stay in Luang Prabang town”.

“I want to talk with you more. I think you are interesting. Where do you live in Luang Prabang?”

“Blue Lagoon”

“I will come there to find you”

“Okay”

So I gotta write the last words of this weird post to come to that Blue Lagoon and talk to the chef and finish our abruptly cut conversation, while thinking this must be one of the most incoherent thing I have ever written. A post that makes no sense because the writer never has the intention to.

Blue Lagoon. I will parkour over there in imagination ha ha.

Lust

That feeling surged again. In Kuang Xi- a waterfall full of people in Laos, I soak myself in cold running water and after around 20 minutes, I stared at him.

Him here is a random person standing around 10 meters away from me. Muscular, tanned, tall and tattooed, with a small beard and looking at me almost at the same time. My heart started to beat fast.

Almost immediately my head is vividly filled with the image of that stranger pulling me closer and us making out under water, behind and in front of arrays of wild trees in the area while resisting the strong water current flowing towards. In public and passionately.

We will breath hard, tongues twisted, excited by the overwhelming chemistry and an immense guilty inappropriate feeling when all other swimmers stopped to point and gossip at the wild scene in front of them just to be turned on at the same time. In seconds, every freaking one of them will be itchy and about to turn into vampire.

original

The thing is…it did not happen, yet the visualization was so vivid that the aura around us changed forever. Right there, at that waterfall, I can smell and touch that strong sensation.

I am losing grip babe. I am losing my poise.

In mainstream psychology, lust is defined as such

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2

Aside from the surface pleasure that lust triggers, I deeply believe there is correlation between lust and vulnerability. I have never felt such an immense level of vulnerability in my life recently, and the desire for attention/ connection increases with the same rate.

4

After writing for 30 minutes, the receptionist came behind my back and when I turned around, I can felt that look again. I better not disturb her, I think and sigh.

” What are you writing?

-I am writing about yesterday. I went to a waterfall and wanted to kiss every freaking person there.

-Ha ha, really?

-Yeah, maybe it is hormone, haiz.

-It happens to me too, ha ha.

-What? Really?

-Yeah, sometimes when customers come in, it took me some minutes to be calm and professional =))

– So you can control it. I can’t. Damn.

Where will this lead and for how long? Is it purely biological or psychological? Let’s see. Maybe you can let me know.

When Avril loses her grip, she can fall over her fans and the audience will take her with all they have. When I lose my grip, hmm, when I lose my grip, maybe I will come and find you and kiss you, right there.

Y.O.U (Why. Opressing.Us)

Is Immanuel Kant boring?

Attracted to him for being the first Vietnamese majored in philosophy I found, I was determined to explore. “What’s behind this small group of young Vietnamese whose interest of gathering every 2 weeks to discuss on ideas of dead people? How are they different from others?”.

But he seems not to talk much, which makes me even more curious

3339e8eea588d0953d67065e88e7927d_480– Who is in your profile pic?

– Chrollo Lucilfer. A bookaholic leader.

– Is he a lone wolf?

-According to Google?

-No, according to my imagination.

In fact, Lucifer is a fictional character, bookworm, calm and charismatic. He is also the leader of a gang and known for staying calm in stressful situation.

“- So you wanna be like him?

-Uhm I like him and perhaps so, apart.

– What type of people are you attracted to?
-You don’t mean sexually?

-I mean in general, just curious. Sorry.”

-Immanuel Kant. Sorry for boring answer.

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So this afternoon he decided to resume the conversation with me and in the meantime, I became too intruding that he decided to remain silent, for a while. “Perfect”, I thought. “This is a person with high standards, I just annoyed him.” I like people who hate me or find me annoying (part of it is intentional illusion). And why not? This is a great way to increase pro activity and relevancy in exploring philosophy.

“I will read about Immanuel Kant and get back to you.

I think you will give up.

You are partly right. I am an impulsive person. But I have a way to get myself engaged, through writing. I will get back to you with a blog post

To be fair, people are motivated  by meaning and relevance. When we invest time in studying thoughts and biography of people living hundreds of years ago, the first question I have in mind is “How is this person relevant to today’s world?“, which will boils down to its relevance in our thoughts, actions, and interpretation of the outside world.

Imannuel Kant 

 

How is Kant relevant to today’s world?

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capture

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

First Tinder Experience

So that moment comes. 2AM, and I was still too bored and stuck to sleep. In the afternoon I already rode my bicycle to the park and jumped rope like a pro. I drank the best coconut juice ever. Looking at the mirror, I pat myself on the shoulder, thinking “You look great girl”.

And still here I am, 2 AM, rolling phone, feeling exactly like what Louis told in his hilarious interview that a friend sent me

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So I thought “Hmm is there anything I haven’t tried yet?”. Tinder, yeah. For a moment I pity myself “Come on girl, Tinder is for desperate dudes”, but due to my personality, the more sb denies me for anything or the more I deny myself anything, the more I wanna do it.

So I set Tinder up. It required me to connect to Facebook and in a few seconds, a GPS was triggered, scanning people in the vicinity (you can change the area up to 80km, depending on how lazy you are).

I felt so powerful. In an instant images of different dudes popped up, varying from muscular sporty type to an Asian doing selfie or a classic guy in front of Machu Pichu. There are also Viet girls aging 19 and Viet boys either look very young or very smart. I can “like”, “super like” or just swipe  over, “Nanh, next. next”. It is very much like a buffet. Sometimes I have 20 matches in hand (and same with others), so when 1 candidate sends me a message and says something like

Hi. Nice to meet you”

I don’t answer anymore. I think it would take time, so I just swipe =)))

When  sb likes me back, we are “matched” and the conversation can be initiated.

I had 2 conversations last night in which my role was switched dramatically

In Tinder, you either neg or be negged.

The first guy was Vietnamese, 30 something, working in an enterprise something, and he started by asking me about my hobbies, then we moved on to talked about psychology – flow, workaholism.Hmm, my field. I dominated the conversation until he said

“Bye”

and I was like “WHATTTTT??????”

When I went to Tinder I expect to charm people you know, ha ha. Rejection is out of expectation. That moment I like Incredible Hulking screaming. No, two, two incredible Hulk screaming next to an active volcano. Hmm, Now I am not only bored but also angry, if that combination turns to something, it will be called revenge.

3209312-9660445429-hulk_

The next one is Belgium. He started by telling me

“You are an introvert”

What? Introvert? Me?

Yes, you are smart, but I am way smarter than you

Then he started to analyze my pictures (In Tinder, you are allowed to choose 5 pictures to represent yourself). This might be his 100th time doing this because words flow our of his mouth as smoothly as silk. After 2 minutes, I realize that I hate people, according to him.

“Now, analyze me. Impress me”

“Bla bla”

“Just that? I am so disappointed. I am bored. Bye”

I was left hanging after 2nd rejection, which makes me think that the app is super interesting. You might get a date, a conversation, a rejection, a great person (like me), or an asshole. It is full of suprises.

tải xuống

You know how interesting and ridiculous era we are living in? Love at first swipe.

Save me. Cloud Trifle.

teh cool character

I am here babe.

Kill them all for me.

Yes, ma’am.

The ? mark

I can help you. I want to go“, I insisted.

I told Cal when he told us his plan to go back to Mekong Delta for an interview. Having been to Mekong many times, I still volunteer to go back. To feel the vibe, explore his style of story forming and satisfy my curiosity of brain picking.

Different from me, Cal has written professionally for 10 years and he treats stories as, of course, real stuff. Sometimes, to get the raw material, this person is willing to ride a bike in dusty Saigon for 120km back and forth to talk with a farmer for 2 hours about all the same questions he had asked 2 months ago. Sometimes, due to be being a perfectionist, he spends all day long crafting stories and then halfway, he thinks “Damn maybe no one will buy this”, then he stops there, torn between what he wants to do and what is supposed to do.

Why ?

How many?

Ask him again what he thinks about…

What happened when?

When?

Where?

I was like “Come on man, why do you want to know so much?”. Sometimes I think if our famer was not very patient he would have been mad.

But now looking back, I think he is like a gold digger, in which stories are a mine. Some details need to be cut, some will be developed and turn into a twist, but to develop that, all have to be gathered.

Take it all, then cut it ruthlessly.

I think somehow it is the trait of all professionals. Selection. Distillation. Focus. Trade-off. Frustration. All in one bag. It is a frustrating and not always rewarding process, yet that is the path they choose.

“Do tell me when u come to Australia”

beo tay

In a restaurant looking over Saigon river view, Karen and Tina pulled out their camera and kept exclaiming

“Wow it is so lovely here”

I said a half-yes , because it is true yet  I was worrying what to order and the driver kept telling me to hurry up. “Damn it is late”, I thought. Nevertheless I did not rush. Beside me is an incredible pleasant lesbian couple who are adventurous at the same time, and I am losing the ability to feel the way they feel. All I could think of was how to order the right food, how to be not too late, how to stay calm and entertaining. I was ready to act.

“I wish you were not my customers, so I can be myself and still nice”, I thought.

Then after 10 minutes talking and sharing about Vietnam, they started to ask about my personal stuff, insisted:

“Do let us know when you come to Australia. We will take care of you there”

I replied “That is cool”, as this might be the 100th time somebody said something like this. Maybe they mean it, maybe they don’t. Yet what makes me very sad is that I have come to a point that I would definitely not contact them if I do come to Australia.

I kept thinking

“What can I give you in return? We are here because you bought a product in which I am the one who deliver. Without that cashflow, I would not sit here. That service includes everything wrapped up in a term called “hospitality”. I do not earn anything else. Why should you take me around while you have to buy me in Vietnam? Both you and I know that”

Then I went further to solidify that thought

“You are thinking like that  because we have shared an adventure and right now you are in a good mood. When you come back and occupied with your daily lives, you will forget that I existed. Your mood disappeared and there is no relevance anymore”

I stopped there. Isn’t it clear? This bittersweet interaction?

I still still wish they were not my customers but just some random people I meet. That would be cool. But for now I have to put my Gaara face on, to face that fact.

gaara face

Wait, maybe I am just overthinking. Story short: I met 2 nice people. They like me. Period.

Ha ha ha ha ha .

“I am not a dog lover”, so?

An American girl staying in the same dorm hostel in Da lat came next to me and started to cuddle a dog named Poppy. The dog was running and barking all around, biting the blanket I am wrapping.

“Uh huh Poppy what is wrong?”

Common-dog-behaviors-explained

I answered with a cold face

“It is drunk”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, I bought a rasberry juice and it wanted to drink some so I spoiled it a bit. Now it is drunk. By the way, is it a he or she?”

“A she. Look, ha ha. Yeah you know the owner bought her from Russia but there is no toys for her, you know?”

Normally sayings like that do not trigger any feeling in me. Well, dogs with toys? “Just another tourist who is raged with dog vs pet culture”, I thought. Next thing she is gonna ask me is whether people eat dog in Vietnam, I anticipated.

I see a lot of sick and skinny dogs around. Do people eat them here?

I was about to laugh, but for the sake of the conversation with new roommate, I answered nevertheless.

Yes people eat dogs here. Dogs are not pets. The people who adopt dogs as pets are normally in cities, with money and use the dogs to run with or use dogs as a toy. People don’t let dogs eat at the same dining table and do not just let them sleep in the same bed. Dogs are not pets in our culture. It is a kind of animal, in a sense that it is inferior”

I answered bluntly, as a way of saying “Yes it is different, don’t you see”. But maybe not detecting the hostile defending tone from me, after hearing that the American girl still smiled and said

“The owner bought Poppy from Russia but did not buy toys for her. It is funny, because she can use the toys to direct the attention so Poppy will not run around and cause a mess. She will bite something nevertheless.

 

Oh, she is right. Damn it, the toys are not used a symbol of the West where people spoil animals yet not necessarily treat humans properly. The toys are to direct the dogs’ attention. Why have I never thought about it this way? Choosing between domesticating yet not learning how to teach animals to eventually get confused then abuse them like we do, or taking time to direct the dogs’ behaviours, I see which is better now.

After that, we continued to chit chat about other typical cross-cultural things like motorbike culture and law-loose system in Asia with an open mind and more curiosity from me, though those conversations I have had a hundred odd times.

I was glad I did not turn a deaf ear to that typical question.

 

 

“If in New York, this would be insane”

10 minutes away from hotel, Mike told me with a firm voice:

“Can u just drop us here?”

“But your hotel is just 10 minutes away, and we are in the middle of the road”

“It is okay, just drop us here, we will walk to the corner. Or just drop us at the stone over there”

I looked at the street now jammed with cars in rush hour. Hmm. To be clear, it is not an inquiry but more like a request. They seem not to be able to stand another minute of waiting anymore. I am expected to comply, yet I said nothing. They are being unreasonable.

You have never been to New York, haven’t you?

I did not answer. New York? You mean the one on the left or the one on the right? What do you expect?

“Every city has rush hour and traffic jam. Get over it and be more patient”, I thought. But 2 minutes later, sensing something not being right, I turned my head around and asked:

“Why do you say that?”
“Because in New York, it would be insane if people don’t get out of cars in traffic jam in a situation like this. It would be insane to just endure it”

“Why is New York that way? It is just because it is a fast-paced city?”

“No, not really. People will say that to your face if you block their way. It is not meant to be taken personally”
“So the stereotype of rude Newyorkers is not true?”

“It is about efficiency and productivity”

At that moment our car got to the turn, they quickly got out of the car and went away. I just had seconds to stare at efficient and productive people rushing to save 5 minutes of their lives.