Tuesday 15 August 2006

Just to practise writing English

It is roughly 10 years since the last time I wrote in English. What I wrote then was something about a "lost generation" in Vietnam, and it was ridiculous to me now that I included myself in that "lost generation" although I did not quite understand the concept.

For long time I've had the habit of talking to people and, while doing so, grading them into specific categories set by me myself. Although I am not a socialable person, the number of people I've met is sufficient at least for my categorization.

"There are places I remember
all my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone, and some remain.

All the places had their moments
with lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I love them all...

Though I know I will never lose affection
for people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more."

These verses can best describe what I often do with much interest: meeting, thinking of people and grading them into diversified categories. (Eh, there must be a lot of mistakes here in my English writing, right?). I never lose impression (not just affection) on those I met, and I know I will often stop and think about them.

At least there must be 10 different groups I've known.

I call the first group "Vietnamese westerners". This group, or community, includes those of my age, meaning born in 1970s or so, who have spent at least 02 years' time learning abroad and are therefore infected with western living style. Poor them, what they absorb from the west is not always suited to Vietnam, so they are isolated to some extent. In most people's eyes, they seem to come from another world, the world of elite and "first-class" citizens. I can't say that there is not a hint of envy in what other people think of this group. A tinge of envy is always mixed with a little arrogance, and this reaction emits the feeling of hatred. So Vietnamese westerners are often hated and isolated, no matter how intelligent or skillful they are.

For my part, I don't have any prejudice biased or against these Vietnamese westerners though it can't be denied that I don't appreciate them or what they absorb from the elite countries. The only thing I hate about them is the habit of embellishing their mother tongue with a lot of American (or English) words. Thanks God, they don't streamline Vietnamese, instead they make the two languages a real mess.

Not all Vietnamese people change to "Vietnamese westerners" after coming back from a western country. Actually I've met less than a dozen of them. A. must be a very good example. He reads a lot of books, never speaks a word without carefully thinking, and thinks of himself as a visionary man full of new ideas. These ideas often go far beyond his age and, of course, far ahead of other people, which he thinks gets him out of the place.

When I first talked to A., I had to spend time trying to figure out "avant-garde" is a term of arts. Phew... in his eyes I must be a backward child and stupid and blind enough to say 'we Vietnamese don't need theories.' Admittedly I didn't know what "theory" means, if there is any theory for Vietnam, if he suggested any theory for Vietnam, whether or not what he said is theoretical. I must confess here that all what he said was beyond my grasp.

Anyway I seem to be going far from the main subject. More will come later on other groups I've classified.

Back to the main subject, "Just to practise writing English", I would say that writing in English used to be one of my hobbies, and I did it quite often when I was around 20. I found much pleasure in doing so, and I felt (or I hoped) it could help to improve creativity. Strictly speaking, it helped to identify whether we are creative or not. That means I was quite disappointed to know that I am not creative. You can't be creative when you are obsessed by just some ideas. I remember I was obsessed a lot by some images, say, velvet green fields with white cotton clouds high above, glorious light at a white christmas night, and the soughing of crickets, and the croaking sound of frogs in the night-time when a harsh rain has gone. I was so strongly obsessed by such images that it took me a terribly long time to banish them from my mind to think of new things. I am not sure now if my mind is clear of such obsessions.

However, writing in English is still a good thing to do. At least this is right for me.