Resounding drumming. ON LIFE begins with the drum.
A universal tool existing in all cultures known to mankind, the drum is used for communication and rituals, among other things. “It is like a communal voice,” VASCAM president P. Q. Phan said. For a meeting, an announcement, a signal for attack or retreat in war time, a rallying sound, and so on. A warm association of the drum that brings sweetness to Vietnamese people’s ears dates back thousands of years. According to K. W. Taylor, author of A History of the Vietnamese, the Âu và Lạc peoples of ancient Vietnam traveled on water. They announced their arrival by beating on bronze drums. Today, archeological artifacts confirmed those drums as belonging to the Đông Sơn culture that dated more than 500 years BC and lasted to the first century. These bronze drums were used for communication and rituals, not musical instruments onstage. Then again in the 18th century, Emperor Quang Trung was known for the battle drum that bolstered his soldiers’ spirit serving as attack signals, and that turned celebratory in tone upon their sweeping victory. At the Quang Trung Museum in Tây Sơn, Bình Định province, one could catch this drum performance at certain times during the week.
Who doesn’t know ‘me no say English’! It is broken English. Native English speakers think only new immigrants, older ones, or those with little education speak like that. Well, I can tell you that time has changed to the point you may or may not like it: broken English is a new trend for some educated people.
Travelling in Việt Nam these days, one could not help but noticing that most local tourists they encounter are from the North. Ninety-five percent of tourists that I met during my two months of travel from Sài Gòn to Sapa are from the northern regions of Việt Nam. Are they “cute Northern girls” who can steal your heart in a flash as a line from Phạm Duy’s song goes? Are they elegant as imperial citizens of the old days? Without trying to be poetic, I only have some observations. Continue reading →
Every time I can’t defend myself, I get upset at myself. It is all about these tiny little but subtle things. Accumulating angst this way turns me into a bitter person; this bitterness does not go away until it is resolved. Just like when I didn’t do the thing I knew was right, it gnaws at me. Only the right action can free my soul.
Innocence: Take the Heat
Once upon a time, we were college students. It was the time when college students like us were still very naive and innocent – simply because we were the last generation of youngsters who actually know the names of trees, flowers and plants around us; the time right before the free market took a full blow in Sài Gòn and uprooted those poor living organisms; the time when, even though we were college students, our job was to listen to the teachers in the classroom. Continue reading →
Borrowing is never an ultimate solution. If you love something so much, create your own. This holds true for the Vietnamese language. Long gone were the days when Vietnamese people had to use Chinese characters to write their spoken language. Modern Vietnamese has been widely used since 1919. Evolved from a history that reflects a mixture of foreign influences that dominated the course of the nation since the earliest days, Vietnamese language uses the Latin alphabet of abc intersected with diacritics (or the accent marks.) Without a doubt, the uniqueness of Vietnamese language lies, among other things, in the diacritics. As a Việt Nam-freak, (e.g., I jealously guard anything Vietnamese) I even think that without diacritics, it is not Vietnamese.
Then I realized that in the past years I had omitted the diacritics in my name without a blink, in my email, Facebook, and miscellaneous online accounts. I started to think. I didn’t have a choice? I was a creature of habits? Or I believed that Vietnamese names with no diacritical marks were a sign of globalization?