Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A couple of moments I can't quite shake.

Two of the most beautiful, or I should say moving moments, I have had in Vietnam have come just wandering the streets this past week. Both were heart wrenching almost cinematic moments which replay themselves over and over again in my head like I was watching a Iranian movie by Kiarostami, or Makhmalbaf then rewinding it again and again it to my favorite scenes. Except this wasn't a movie but instead real peoples lives which I had brief glimpses into.

The fist occurred when I was riding on the back of a xe om (motorbike taxi). We were on a busy street and I spotted a funeral procession. In Vietnam a small band usually precedes a funeral procession and this procession was no different. The band was sitting on a bench in the back of a small cargo truck playing away and it seemed the van was getting further and further away from the ornately decorated truck which was caring the casket. Soon they were separated by hundreds of cars, and I could barley hear the music playing. Looking at the glossy tear drenched faces of the deceased relatives riding along with the casket it really got to me. There was something about the separation of the musicians from the rest of the procession that made me want to cry. It was such a sad, solemn moment.

The next happened when I was waiting in line at an ATM when I saw an old man with either his daughter or granddaughter. They slowly walked passed on the side of the road briefly stopping for each person, stretching out a frayed hat for donations.. He had on dark sunglasses and a floppy hat, his head was tilted down with one of his hands was on her shoulder as if she was leading him. In his other hand was an old microphone that was attached to what looked like a beat up bullhorn speaker, which was tucked under her arm. From his mouth and out of that speaker came one of the softest most beautiful voices I have ever heard. He was singing what I imagined to have been a sad Vietnamese folksong, slightly distorted and echoey as though it was being sent through some sort of delay or reverb filter. I still hear that voice and I still see them walking.

I don't know how to feel about all this, I feel somewhat like a voyeur into peoples suffering, and people tragedy, but I just can stop thinking about these two moments.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Seals and Bicycles

I choose to believe this signs says "seals riding bicycles are prohibited". Today I signed up for Vietnamese and dan bau lessons which both start next week. I hope learning Vietnamese will not dissuade me from this belief. Because that would be sad if not downright cruel.