My dream of creating my own stage and drawing an audience has been buried beneath other priorities in my life.
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For me, music has always been a stream of inspiration, the medicine for dejection, and an elixir of zest.
I love to sing, and find myself perpetually absorbed by the songs on stages, TVs, radios,… In my adolescent, I would put fingers on my throat when singing to make the vibrato, and put my face inside a wash-basin to feel the echo and amplification of my voice.
In my 40s, I took private singing lessons and joined a choir that exclusively sang ABBA songs. However, I felt dissatisfied with only two public performances per year for the group. I managed to quench my thirst of singing through the occasional karaoke party but just like fashion, the trend died down after a few years. But wait there’s more!
My neighbourhood showed its seamy face under Communism in 1979.
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Mrs Chowmein was murdered!
It was the curious vagabonds who slept in front of the widower’s abode that discovered the rivulet of blood from inside the house, dripping down to where they were sleeping.
The vagrants formed part of the late-70s communist era’s phenomenon. They had previously belonged to the bourgeoisie groups, but forfeited their money and jewellery, anyways found themselves banished from their own homes to the barren land of the New Economic Zones before later finding their way back to the city.
I learned of Mrs Chowmein’s fate after waking up early to queue for the monthly family meat ration. I was struck with disbelief, fear and overwhelming sadness, I couldn’t accept the fact that there was a murder in my neighbourhood even though I read and heard about it everyday. My mind was numb for the whole day and I couldn’t help chatting to the crowd gathered in front of Mrs Chowmein’s house. But wait there’s more!
The well-travelled track taken by some pensioners, using the Australian dollar’s power to buy younger flesh and deceptive lovers in Vietnam.
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It was a cold and wet winter morning. Passing an intersection, the car in front of mine turned into it at too high-speed, slid sideways, spun around and hit my car. Both cars were slighted dented. The road was empty as it was still early hours so no other cars were involved in the accident. As we exchanged contact details, glancing at the other driver’s special name, I wondered if she was my primary school classmate. I was burning with curiosity but I had to drive off to take my Chihuahua to the emergency vet clinics.
Tragically and heartbreakingly, Gigi passed away as we arrived there. But wait there’s more!
When Nhất Linh died, I was only a one-year-old girl, but I had just met him in my dream! Just the thought that he knew me gave me goosebumps.
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Recently, I came across a Vietnamese article about An Đông market where my family used to live, and it mentioned the fate of the owner of the famous Siu Siu restaurant there. For years, Saigon residents and celebrities as well as important politicians and military officers, enjoyed the fragrant and tasty Hainanese chicken rice of Siu Siu.
In 1978, during the eradication of bourgeoisie by the Communist, Siu Siu’s owner lost his three-house restaurant. He then was the sole survivor after a boat of hundred people – his family included – trying to escape Vietnam tragically sank. He lost his mind, and became a beggar who slept in front of his big restaurant night after night. But wait there’s more!
The shirt had a photo of the “Statue of Liberty”, the famous icon of the United States showing the ideal of humanity: Freedom and Democracy.
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After the Vietnamese Communists occupied South Vietnam, being a Lt Colonel in the South VN Army, I was detained in various labor camps in the far mountainous areas of North VN for nine years. Then I was released in 1984 but remained under the close supervision of the local security service for two years. Finally I was acknowledged as a new citizen of the new Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and basically had the right to vote.
In 1987, a general election for the National Assembly was initiated across the country. Unfortunately all candidates were required to be primarily selected by the local communist branches, that means no independent candidate was approved, something that was strange compared to my experiences of elections in the free world. Disagreeing with that policy of election, I voted blank in protest. But wait there’s more!
Call it an ancient wisdom that yields serious consequences when applied in Australia.
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<<Facts, pictures and video clips related to this story – Corruption in health, education, commerce, transport, immigration,… in communist Vietnam>>
I can’t remember exactly when I first heard the Vietnamese proverb: “A silver bar tears up the paper” but it was repeated so often in dramas, comedies, newspapers and Vietnamese literature lessons, … The proverb means that money can break protocols, prohibit justice, bend the laws, …
The powerful lesson transmitted by the proverb was entrenched deeply in my mind as I witnessed what went on around me, especially under the tyranny of Communism.
My Chinese neighbours told me that bribery had helped their sons avoid conscription during the Vietnam War, as well as during the war between Vietnam and China in 1979. But wait there’s more!
I grew up vowing never to follow the custom that I saw as unfair and corruptible.
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It was nearing the end of a meal, and people were still busy chatting to each other. Suddenly I heard the steady, pounding noise of someone running, then I saw a strange scene unfolding between Mr Frugal and Mr Opportunistic inside the restaurant by the cash register. The two men, red-faced and smiling, were grabbing at each other’s hands and pockets. Each was preventing the other from paying for the group’s meal. Money was shoved back into each owner’s pockets and hands were moved away from the till. The two men were heard shouting things like: “No, let me!”, “Please don’t do that, you are so weird!” Strangers may appreciate how eager and obliging both men were in displaying their hospitality.
I was still young at the time, but I realised why the two men wrestled with each other to foot the bill. It was a cheap restaurant and would not cost a lot for someone to fork out for the group. On the contrary, everyone dreads paying at an expensive venue, where those who are selfish, inconsiderate and know that it would not be their turn, would freely order an excess of dishes and drinks. But wait there’s more!
I wish I had a magic wand so I could turn myself into a white person and then indulge in my hobby.
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AVT was a famous band in Vietnam. It was formed in 1958 to entertain servicemen and its name was made up from the initials of the three original band members who were political warfare recruits of the South Vietnam Army. The band disassembled when one member committed suicide on the fall of Saigon and another was evacuated to America, leaving one in Vietnam.
I loved listening to AVT’s satirical songs, where the members represented three regions of Vietnam dressed in different regional costumes, spoke in different dialects, played a mix of modern and classical regional music on traditional instruments.
In their song ‘The History of Hair’, they observed the way Saigon unstylishly copied the hair styles of Western film stars. The waving and receding hairstyle of American Robert Taylor was imitated, but looked more like ‘cow horns’. Brigitte Bardot’s hair was reproduced but resembled a bird nest. Gina Lollobrigida’s ‘frisé'(curly) style was replicated but appeared like a big hair ball. Women dyed their hair blonde to be like Marilyn Monroe and men who worshipped Yul Brynner shaved their heads. But wait there’s more!