Christmas is being spent in Northumberland with family. Today included a trip to a fresh, breezy, blue-skied Tynemouth – the anti-Hanoi.
Yesterday we got married again. This time with the whole family present, sisters, kids etc and a lovely day was had by all.
For a number of reasons, 2012 has been a trying year for us. In October, on our anniversary, I asked Loan to marry me (again) and yesterday was the culmination of that. It also seemed to break a run of bad luck. Since then a new job has been secured by me and a new cafe opened by Loan.
All of the above means that, for the first time in 12 months, we’re absolutely committed to Hanoi. We wobbled this year and the wobbling made us more unhappy than anything Hanoi could throw at us. In the end all we needed to know was our near future would work out and when that fell into place we happily settled again.
Beyond this the only thing I need to really love/survive Hanoi is an annual day like today in Tynemouth. Head, sinuses and cobwebs cleared.
I will hate Hanoi again. In the middle of next summer, in a pool of sweat, I’ll dream of windy Tynemouth but I’ll also love Hanoi many many times inbetween.
Happy Christmas to all. I hope your year is ending as well as mine is.
There’s a little history with me and the new Cart location.
Before I left first time around, I stayed briefly at the Especen. When I returned, two and a half years later, I contacted them about a room and they put me in one of their longer-term digs down the alley.
The fact that my late friend Martin‘s cafe was right opposite was a mere happy coincidence. I arrived late at night, then left my lodgings the following morning to cross the road to see my good friend. It’s a moment captured on film 35 seconds in above. A minute later he introduced me to Loan, his business partner. One year later she would be my wife.
She disputes this story, saying we met on another visit and she wasn’t in that day. Whether or not that’s true I’m sticking to my version. Between truth and legend, always choose the legend.
Fast forward and shortly before we celebrated our second wedding anniversary Loan shook hands on the deal to move The Cart to downstairs at the Especen rooms.
Frankly it’s nowhere near ready but, yes, it is open. Better to leave it two weeks if you want to see it properly in operation and get the best service.
The Cart Au Trieu has many ties to the past, not least to Martin. Nice then that when we announced it on Facebook his sister Jill was among the first to give the move the thumbs up.
I’ve become fascinated by the role of the eldest son in Vietnam. Not just what is expected of him but also how it colours all family life.
Because the eldest son will one day keep the parents – so, from a very early age, the parents are a little scared of their own boy. Above all else the parents cannot afford to upset the eldest son and the son surely understands this.
In arguments with siblings the eldest son is most likely to backed. Request for possessions or preferential treatment are investments parents expect to see a return on.
You cannot afford to risk your relationship with your son.
A daughter will leave – perhaps marrying an eldest son herself. Then she will be part of the payback of another parental investment – expected not just to cook and clean for her husband and parents but also, frequently, any yet-to-leave sisters too. In this instance, it’s the mother-in-law that’s frequently the enforcer – safeguarding the payback while keeping her son onside by controlling his wife.
The question is: how do you begin to gain equality for women when parents can’t afford not to put their sons first?
And when and how will this change?
My first big trip pretty much coincided with widespread usage of email.
I’d write great long emails home and my Dad would collect them, print them off and share them with my Mother. The occasional large print version would get provided to my Gran.
I started Skyping home when I first had internet installed in my little one room flat on Quang Trung. Somewhat frazzled by the ongoing dramas at KOTO it was great not just to talk to my Mum and Dad but see them as well.
For a number of years my Mother has been promising herself, myself and my Dad that she was going to master the internet. She didn’t want much, just to be able to search for things for the garden and to look at cottages to rent when they had a few days away.
She is of a generation that didn’t just had to master computers. She first had to master a keyboard, then a mouse or trackpad. To most of us the idea of cut and pasting is second nature and yet every step had to be learnt. She talked of doing courses but there were very few out there that start at the very beginning.
But after Christmas last year we started getting tentative, short emails from my Mum that had obviously taken a while to type. My Dad, enjoying his iPad, decided that my Mum would be more suited to using one too. There have been great strides since.
I’m rather proud of her when she “likes” thing on Facebook. It makes me giggle when I see her following her gardening heart throb Monty Don on Twitter alongside cousin Vicky’s Vallum Farm, the Hexham Courant and the Hairy Bikers. Occasionally, I’ll know she’s still out there when she favourites a tweet of mine or joins in communal nagging of me with Loan.
My Dad shares pictures taken from his phone of my nieces and nephews via a family only G+ circle and I try to remember to do the same. Holiday photos are shared as they’re taken. Essentially postcards several times a day. Meanwhile we normally get a text at the weekend with a request for a Skype chat where Loan and I mock bicker in front of them about which was of us is the most hard done to.
The football season starts this weekend and via SMS, Viber or Google Chat I’ll be sending goal updates to my Dad and, most likely, interrupting his bowls.
I enjoy it all immensely. Just as I enjoy sharing a little of my life via this blog. I can’t imagine being without these tools now and I’m very proud of my “silver surfers” back home.