Monday, August 21, 2006

On Creativity 2: two stories of mine

Think of it, and you will have every reason to say the Vietnamese are not strong in creative thinking. I have dozens of stories to show you how our uncreative mind works.

I've been to Hue twice. A small city at the heart of Vietnam, Hue is quiet,  beautiful and melancholy, and, as people often put it, it's a dreamland situated on the dreamy side of Huong River. 'And quiet flows the Huong', I like this saying, which originates from 'And quiet flows the Don'. I also bear in mind quite a lot of verses celebrating the sorrowful beauty of Hue, among them are:

“Rainy days in Hue - how I find them sad

and how long they last”

“Why don’t you come to Vi Da

watching sunshine in the leaves…?” (unable to translate)

With such thinking in mind, I, as a child of 15 then, came to Hue in eagerness, and thought to myself that I was going to see a splendid pearl on the Huong river.  The result was on the contrary as anyone may guess when they reads this line, and I won’t write it all down here because that will be a time-consuming process. However, what disappoints me is Hue’s people. I did not expect them to be so bad looking (hoo hoo…). The point is that their bad appearance is not really by nature, instead I think it comes from their poverty, or something like hard conditions of living. I found in Hue an ocean of sorrow, but the sorrow was not as romantic and dreamy as described by romantic poets. Rather it was also originated from a hard life.

And what annoyed me the most was poor business activities in Hue. The second time I visited Hue, I had to run around Dong Ba market (the largest marketplace in Hue it is, I believe) to look for just a little phial of spicy salt. It was a sunny day and I perspired a lot. And angry as I was, I found surprising enough that in just a small market like Dong Ba, they have hundreds of booths selling the same things - stuffs called ‘symbols of Hue’, including woman hats, papyrus slippers, shrimp sauce, some Hue’s foods, etc. All the booths and stalls, or kiosques, were located one by one, and they all sold almost the same things, while none of them sold just a little phial of spicy salt. ‘Damn you, guys,’ I swore them under breath, ‘Stupid enough not to diversify what you sell. Why don’t any of you think of another thing to sell? Is it because you don’t have enough money to set a new category, a new line of product/service?’ That was an unanswered question.

I also visited a couple of trade villages in the north of Vietnam. In my opinion, I have no reason to deny  the advantages of specializing in some product lines, and the benefits trade villages bring to a community. However, I find it unacceptable when almost all traders in a market commit to selling the same products. What about buyers? Don’t they have other things in need? Where can they buy them?

Half of what I said might be meaningless. But I say it just to reveal that we the Vietnamese minds are uncreative ones.  Why it leads us to being uncreative is another matter. I will come back to this later.