sticky tune

be warned, the content (and my fragmented line of thought) is a little disturbing…
got this strange tune since yesterday that left me head scratching searching for the source. it has to be from something very recent, but which opera??? “tà tá , tá ta ta tà tá” (if you know a tiny bit of vietnamese tones, you’d realize our 6 tones are nothing but music, and i can write any song in just such various accents and technically if i not way out of tune, anyone would be able to recognize song) . Anyhow, 2 visions (visualization? i saw nothing profound, just images) popped up in the head, one of a warm cozy room in soft yellowish light, and one of a kite flying. Though the flying kite is not the original source, it’s got a similarity nonetheless. Anyhow, here’s where the tune comes from originally, and here’s the kite flying scene, tear inducing everytime i hear it (not mentioning seeing…)

This is a movie worth seeing. Anyone who has lived in Vietnam in the late 1970s to 1980s and is an immigrant can identify with many of the scenes in it. Some of my siblings turned down watching due to fear of getting too emotional. And the janitors, the lawnmowers, recycling-collectors you encounter in the US, some were/are my relatives. An uncle told me once when he first arrived in the US, he applied for a job to clean the toilet at a university and they said he didn’t have the right qualification.

The war / after-war process result in several distinct groups of people with deep hatred. On that Tet parade i went last weekend, right in front of us was the Southern Vietnamese military contingency in all their gears waving old Vietnamese flag. From what I have heard from old relatives and people who had gone through the 1975 Fall of Saigon, it wasn’t just the communists but also the Southern Vietnamese military who were shooting at people. At the parade, I was asked first to carry the American flag, which I turned down, then old Vietnamese flag which I again turned down, and finally the rainbow flag which I gladly grabbed.

Anyhow, despite my disagreement about the war, our family and my current personal advancement are a result of the Vietnam War. And let’s round it off on a (fun) note: am always irritated with people who are soo damn freaked out about what possibly touching sh*ts shouldn’t be touching their floor/bed… Perhaps I should inform them i thrice dug through my own sh*t for something just to wash it and swallow again, yep.

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About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

11 Responses to sticky tune

  1. Eyesometric says:

    This is the kind of post which leaves me struggling for words even more than usual. Thank you for reminding us about perspective in Life.

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  2. jcmwee says:

    War: what a waste.

    These stories must be told.

    The story of the Vietnamese in Sydney is told here: http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/2183706875/Once-Upon-A-Time-In-Cabramatta-Ep1 if you want to/can watch it.

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    • Eyesometric says:

      It won’t play for me!

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      • jcmwee says:

        Bugger. More tech-savvy people than myself use VPNs to get around the geo-blocking. I myself have no idea how to…

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        • Eyesometric says:

          Tech-savvy? I don’t even know what VPNs is/are/stand for!

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          • jcmwee says:

            Apparently Virtual Protocol Network, which allows you to hide your location, so the site can’t tell you’re an ‘alien’…

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          • They’re basically a type of proxy server – usually you have to log in, and then whatever traffic goes from your computer to the site you want to visit goes through the VPN server, and from the point of view of the site you’re visiting, you look like you’re wherever the VPN server is. So you can hide or alter your location. I’ve read that many people in China use them to get around the internet censorship.

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  3. I can only echo what Eyes said in her first comment.

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  4. thả diều says:

    @ jcmwee : thanks for the link. i also got blocked, but saw some highlights on YT. well, gang + crime, it’s a society problem that correlates with poverty and inaccessibility + lack of role models… when i started grad school, the few first German friends I met either never had encountered a vietnamese or had heard of us a group of people only in criminal context (the vietnamese cigarette mafia is apparently running wild in Germany…)

    Speaking from experience, i can tell you my family was extremely lucky (and thankful) that my dad had already a degree and could speak english fluently upon our arrival; that allowed him to immediately find a job and us to immediately attend school without having to live in housing project and worrying about being shot on our way to fighting with other kids in the hood.

    At the same time that we should be grateful that a developed country took us in and enabling us a brighter future, I think it’s fair we “beg” that such country could also develop awareness of how to integrate the new immigrants in. Again, from my experience, without basic awareness, people tend to interpret not-able-to-speak/not-able-to-understand (language barrier) = stupid/retarded (mental issues). In my 10th grade, i was first tossed into mythology. After a few weeks, it became clear to the teacher i understood NOTHING so they moved us (sister in 11th grade + I) to “english-as-a-2nd-laguage class” where we were given crayons and papers to color animal shapes. This is not a complaint, but rather just to point out under less fortunate circumstances we could have ended up much less favorable conditions (gangster neighborhood, poor & non-adaptable parents, resentful youths in stressful mental states being ridiculed at school…)

    ps- it’s not a coincidence mythology is always so incomprehensible to me 😀

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    • jcmwee says:

      Yup Dr T, that’s about the narrative of the doco – the first big wave of East Asian immigrants post the White Australia policy, meets a society unable and unwilling to help with transition, still bubbling over with overt racism, hung up over it’s white supremacist history, gets totally fractured by the pressures of post traumatic stress disorder and poverty and the difficulties of resettling. The narrative ends with a happy ending of course, with actual social services being provided to break the cycle of addiction and dealing and gangs. There are still the die hards that associate Cabramatta with heroin and drugs and gangs and shoot-ups, but to me Cabramatta is a happy place for me, where I get some connection to my South East Asian roots, even if just a little.

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  5. thả diều says:

    Since i posted the clips of the movie, thought i might as well mention my impression and perspectives. What i love about the movie is that the content is not over-dramatized. It’s really how it was, purely from the Vietnamese perspective, even in less gory details in some cases. There are many very subtle scenes that have true meanings to only those who had gone through the experience.

    One such scene is the exchange of the ring in prison (though it’s a little bit inaccurate because he would have already lost the ring to the guards upon entering the camp). The ring is the single most important object to a boat person. that is all the money the family could afford. You are given the ring by your love ones, waved goodbye to them in silent tears, and off you went. The family would sit and wait for 1-5 months or forever… Either a letter would arrive to let them know you have made it safely to a refugee camp, or no letter ever. If got caught, you must quickly swallow the ring, else you’re made as an escaper, thus jail time plus lost of all your family money.

    The scene on the boat when the pirates attacked and Mai got boiling water poured on her and eventually lying waiting for destiny: In the 80’s it didn’t take long before news arrived to all in Vietnam that boats were attacked by pirates in the sea near Thailand. Generally, all the men and kids were tossed overboard, and young women raped / kidnapped and brought into brothels in Thailand. Often there were also cases of boats drifting to the open ocean and people eating each other while waiting for any ship to rescue them. Toward the end of the 80’s, ship captains from most countries were ordered to NOT pick up boats drifting at sea, and those who picked them up would be punished (due to the HUGE volume of escapees to the sea, picking up implied encouraging more escapees). That’s what i heard while living in Vietnam, which was later confirmed by current hausmate who was at that time a NATO rep at Vietnamese refugee camp in Malaysia.

    The fate of those staying behind (in the 70s and 80s): generally speaking, people from the South were the most wealthy of the country and didn’t live through constant bombardment from US planes. They (we) had furnitures, cars, etc. Thus at the end, they abandoned everything and ran to the US. Those who stayed behind, former soldiers sent to re-education camps while the communists simply took over all your properties and send you orders where your wife and kids would now have to move. Mainly, it’s to the undeveloped countryside where the soil was not favorable for any sort of farming. I can’t tell you anything about the condition in the re-education camp, but surely some siblings and parents could (we never discussed it). It’s also true that depending on whenever you get out of the camp, your children would be in the “black list” and advancement in school was only a dream. On the other hand, the communist party, who now lived comfortably in your old houses, will hand out free passes to their children for high school and college degrees.

    Lastly, and this is purely my opinion, 1 thing was not portrayed entirely honestly in the film. It’s the view of the main character Long who was determined to “stay behind to fight for his country”. I have not heard a single account about this (though my experience is highly limited.) Based on what I’ve heard from every single person who had told me of his/her experience, it was known the South was losing, and the discussion at the time was only whether to “go” or “not go”. go where noone knew for sure. One of the main reasons families stayed behind (ours) was due to not able to locate everyone. Everyone was at the ship, and all mom’s parents + mom’s siblings (at the ship) left while we stayed behind due to 1 missing person. Other uncles who were in the South military left from their posts in respective cities and did not know/see their loved ones until everyone was in the US.

    Related to this “leaving”, the South military people were willing to shoot down any citizen who impeded them and their families flee (by trying to get on the boat ahead for example.) Note I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the communists because they were as bad as you see in the movie (but more true portrayal than in ALL american-made movies/propaganda though). I just thought it should be more balanced to say in stressed time, everyone was selfish, North or South. Aunts and uncles have told me stories of starving on the ship in 1975 with South military treating their own citizens like slaves in the lower deck, and that upon arriving at Guam, she never forgot the image of the _entire_ sea filled with instant noodles the South military people dumped after keeping the noodles to themselves for the entire duration. Again, it’s not a judgement (wait until we’re all in that situation before we pretend to judge), but it’s worth it to show a balanced view.

    bolinao 52

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