Hanoi is even noisier onlinePosted: April 29, 2012 | |
I’ve been playing around with the following on my Google Docs for sometime but it didn’t find a home. Anyway, it was inspired by how even the word “Hanoi” provokes very differing reactions.
I do occasional talks on social media and in the section on networking I describe how I once used it to find drinking buddies, while working and slowly going mad, in remote, rural Cameroon.
In short I set up filters on every online platform I could think of and if anyone mentioned my town I was on it, and I got in touch. I then invited them for a beer at 7pm on Friday night at the local, less than salubrious, Dreamland Restaurant.
It worked well, my record gathering was 25 – including assorted NGO workers, two BBC reporters and a mob of American Peace Corps and German DED.
Anyway, I brought the search habit with me to Hanoi but soon learned locally it’s what news aggregators like to call “noisy”.
For example, I know that when I log on in the morning the Twitter search will be dominated by right wing America still frothing at the mouth over the actions of “Hanoi Jane”, some 40 years on.
The slightest TV mention or appearance and the feed goes into overdrive with people demanding no less than her execution as a traitor. When recently she was rumoured to be in the running to play right wing hero Nancy Reagan it got really messy.
But what’s odd about Hanoi is just how much baggage the word carries. The international popularity of Finnish metallers Hanoi Rocks for me will always be skewed by my search habits. I’m guessing they chose Hanoi as just about the baddest place they could think of. (This week Heroes of Hanoi also popped up – an indie band from Worcester).
Meanwhile I have learned that in the UK, break-ins when villains take keys and drive away your car are called Hanoi burglaries. In the confusion Police had to make a statement saying that yes, it was just a codename and no, no Vietnamese were sought in connection with the offence.
Elsewhere I’ve learned incredible facts. Like who knew that the A-Team’s crime “they didn’t commit” was the burglary of the Bank of Hanoi? Presumably, as they tried to fly to safety, Mr T fled Noi Bai shouting:“You ain’t going to get me on no plane, sucka!”
Personally my pet Hanoi hate is reporters who use the capital’s name as a journalistic shorthand for “The Vietnamese Government”.
Hanoi has declared that….as if we somehow we’re all in on this. I’ve come to think that perhaps some writers actually believe we are.
But being a Brit I didn’t grow up with Hanoi as the bogeyman. My first inkling of it was thanks to one of my favourite CDs, “Sinatra at the Sands”. It’s Frank’s birthday but he dismisses speculation over his advancing years as a “Damned Communist lie – straight outta Hanoi!”.
Later Frank goes on to tease pianist Count Basie with his comedy negro voice. They were very different times.
But it reminds me that for every backpacker buying propaganda posters, there remains a sizeable number of people who, in the words of Paul Hardcastle: “…are still fighting the Vietnam War.”
Well they are on Twitter at least.
And it’s probably with them in mind that the oh-so-trendy Luxe Guides comes up with this on Hanoi:
“Think it’s all tin-hats and Jane Fonda? Think again…..Go on, get in bed with the reds.”
If you think that’s bad try their opening gambit:
“So hungry you could eat your neighbour’s dog? That wouldn’t be out of question in Hanoi!”