Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ha Noi Street Sounds, Part I

Before I headed to Ha Noi, I was forewarned by at least two dozen friends and relatives concerning Ha Noi-ians. Some said: “Ha Noi people are mean, gruesome, scary, and reckless folks who will rip you off at every turn.” While others warned: “always ask for prices and bargain 100% down because they’re testing you, those souless assholes!” My father said that after 20 years of dealing with northern businessmen/dames, he found them to be “absolutely ridiculous!” As for the food, my aunts cautioned: “northerners don’t know how to cook, everything is so bland and stringy… tastes like jaundice.” Maybe not the jaundice part, but I heard from almost everyone that food in the South is dandy, and the north is the antithesis of that—g-ross! The only good thing I heard about the north was that their women are fine as hell. Slender, tall, smooth skin (God bless the climate), polite, respectful, but treacherous if you ever tried any buffoonery.

I’ve been to innumerable cities now, so people keep asking me to compare one place to another. How’s Shanghai? Is Da Lat romantic? Is Cambodia a land filled with witchcraft-eries and thugs? Well… after perusing the streets of Ha Noi after dark last night, I decided I can finally resolve this (who wants to be a) million dollar question (though I heard they’ve recently reduced it to $260,000), with my own insightful analysis. I have been saying it forever, but I still believe that people are just people, no matter where they live, who they are, how they look like and what shit they eat (and I’ve seen and eaten a lot of weird shit in Asia).

If there’s a man and woman, chances are they’re flirting at some level. The man is strutting his boots, flashing his peacock feathers, crow-ing absurdities or doing his jig. Trust me, I’ve seen it with chickens. Anyways, so last night as I was walking around Ho Hoan Kiem, I saw teenagers making out on benches in the park. It occurred then that I saw this worldwide phenomenon everywhere I traveled. When I was in Beijing you know what teenagers were doing in the park? Making out. Phenom Penh—making out. Saigon—making out. Ha Tien—making out. Nha Trang—making out. Ha Noi was the same. So every city is the same, or at least this happens everywhere. After countless hotel check ins, unpacks leading to repacks, toiletries in a plastic bag, to actually subsisting from a bag, these colorful city night lights are all beginning to merge together into a grandiose mega-metropolis in my mind. It is as if every city is adjacent to one another, all sharing one common city park as central square where teenagers of all international timezones can simultaneously make out. Isn't that romantic? Think about it, I know I haven’t, at every second, there is some couple making out as we speak. So this one is to you loving teenagers wherever you are, whether it be on lawns, marble benches, kiddie slides, lifeguard towers, the back of a grocery store, rooftops, decks or your friend’s garage, (aybe I am listing all of my made out spots), in the beautiful words of Cody ChesnuTT "keep on lovin’ and keep on smokin’". Grope, hug each other real hard, or pull a fast one underneath those dim city lights, just love each other.

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