Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 11/18/2019
In a restaurant in Hanoi last Friday evening, a young man was playing the Tỳ bà, a traditional, stringed instrument. Toward the end of dinner, I thought I recognized a tune. Sure enough, as I began humming it, it was Lullaby of Broadway!
Hanoi is the stereotypical communist city to me. Capitalism in commerce is the name of the game. A small slice of people are wealthy, but most are eking out an existence. In the food markets, the stalls have no restrooms nor are there public restrooms, so vendors relieve themselves in the streets. Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and catafalque require absolute silence with guards who look like rear admirals stationed every dozen yards or so. The people I’d describe as “dour.” No one will talk about the government.
The food is overwhelmingly bland. The city is rather dull. Crossing the street amidst millions of motorbikes and scooters requires blind faith. (There are 10 million people in Hanoi but the government will admit to only 7.) No one obeys any traffic rules, and that includes riding on the sidewalks and the wrong way on the street.
At the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison, I saw photos of the well treated POWs playing basketball and football and receiving medical attention!
Dubai had huge width but no depth. Hanoi has significant depth but no width. I’m always happy to have seen what I see, but happier to come home. We have our problems, but we tend to allow them to overwhelm our advantages.
How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.—Ronald Reagan