A February morning in Hanoi, Vietnam, many years ago. In the 1990s Vietnam, especially North Vietnam, had not yet reached the remarkable level of vitality that is so visible today. Hanoi was still a rather grim place.
HANOI – The sky is overcast, the air is cool and damp. I walk out of the western comfort of the Green Park Hotel into a sea of humanity beginning its uncertain day. The motor scooters and the bicycles are everywhere, large numbers of pedestrians clog the narrow side walks and overflow into the street. There is noise; but it is not shrieking. It is the humming of life at its Oriental speed. It all looks chaotic, but not disorderly. I look at the faces around me and I am struck once more by the gentleness of the eyes and the delicate beauty of the young women.
All of a sudden, I realize that it is raining. Actually it is not rain. It is something like a faint mist. Tiny droplets fall gently on me. They make me cool, but not wet. It is like a veil enveloping everything: me, the now familiar tree-lined street leading to the office, and everybody else around me. The tiny misty droplets keep falling gently, softly, silently, attenuating somewhat the street noises.
There is an eerie beauty emanating from the old, dilapidated French colonial buildings, and the streets shrouded in the damp air that turns everything into a grey color.
Suddenly, as I walk on, in my eyes the commotion surrounding me seems to slow down. I do not hear the noise anymore. Everything is softened. The poverty all around me becomes harmonious. I keep walking on,enjoying the humid mist.