Here, Hanoi…

Wednesday, 2019-10-23 17:34:23
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Bookstores on Dinh Le Street have created unqiue cultural identities of the capital city.
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NDO – The chaos of lies sometimes make people think that the ‘soul’ of Hanoi has been lost; however, in reality, the capital city’s soul can be still recognised in the simple people, streets, houses and even rows of trees.

There have been thousands of books on Thang Long’s culture as well as the personality of Hanoians: self-respect, prestige and elegance. There have also been debates about ‘original Hanoians’ as the capital has been always been the gathering place of residents from all over the country. Hanoi consists of many strata of people, including intellectuals, entrepreneurs, small traders and manual workers. However, the life of ordinary workers has left strong impressions on visitors. Despite the hardships and chaos, they spend time improving their spiritual lives, creating special features of the capital city. That can be the sound of a flute played by Nguyen Quang Chau, an old female worker, by Hoan Kiem Lake bringing joy to everyone or even by a seafood seller. That can be cups of lotus seed and longan sweet soup prepared carefully by an old woman in a small alley of Hang Khay street and her stories about Hanoi in the past and present.

Pham Anh Hao, a taxi driver, has been also famous as a ‘dictionary of Hanoi streets’. His knowledge of Hanoi can surprise all visitors and customers. Hao remembers all streets, even those which were gone, and can tell coherently the length of old tram lines and streets they passed through in the past. He also remembers the commencement and inauguration day as well as height, width and depth of Hanoi Opera House and Long Bien bridge.

Hao was born and grew up in Ma May – the street combined from two old streets: Hang Ma and Hang May. Perhaps so, with the ups and downs in his life, the simple person still preserves the ‘substance’ of Hanoi.

All people who love Hanoi’s culture know Dinh Le street which has been called ‘book street’. The first people who formed the book street were the couple Luy – Mao. Many people called them ‘ancestor’ of the book sale trade in the street. Right at the entrance to Mao bookstore at No.5 Dinh Le street, there is a very small bookshop owned by a special woman Vu Thuy Hoa. She has been invited to many launching ceremonies for new books of well-known writers. Although the shop is so small that a fat reader has to tilt their bodies among the bookshelves, it has attracted many writers and researchers. The most solemn place in the bookstore was not used for the best seller books but for research books. In addition, there are many different kinds of cultural books, including rare ones. Hoa loves reading very much, so she has a rich knowledge, She can understand many Vietnamese writers, many of which she has never met. Many people admire Hoa’s advice for guests.

It is easy to meet reading lovers in the capital city. Despite hardships in his life, Nguyen The Thanh has tried to save money to buy books. He kept hundreds of valuable books and then opened a book café on Au Co street. The over 30-year-old man Le Van Hop has spent 20 years collecting books and accumulated extensive knowledge on many fields.

Hanoi's population is estimated to reach over eight million. Many people longingly remember the ‘old days’ as the capital was only a beautiful and small urban area. In fact, Hanoi’s culture has changed. However, the city’s ‘soul’ has not been lost. Perhaps, it is just a certain change in the way to approach and express the ‘quality’ of the capital as new generations were born and grew up. For example, young members of ‘My Hanoi’ club have made efforts to organise various activities to inspire and convey beautiful features of Hanoi for decades. The club’s founder was Ngo Quy Duc. He has moved on to a new journey with the Trade Village’s Folklore Club as a way to promote the values of another traditional cultural identity.

The young man Nguyen Duc Loc is also a typical example in preserving the traditional culture. Hanoi has inspired his love for heritage and so he is trying his best to restore ancient costumes.

The ancestors said: the land creates human. Hanoi’s culture has a marvelous power. It seems that the streets, trees, houses and people here, sooner or later, also make people love this land.