In collaboration with writer Meera Vijayann once again, I’m proud to bring you the second in my mini series of photo essays on the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. While the last one focused on the Vietnamese people’s love for their country, this one concentrates on two beautifully preserved Hanoi temples. Click the image below and I’ll take you there.
This photo essay takes you to two Hanoi temples, Văn Miếu (the Temple of Literature) and Đền Ngọc Sơn (the Temple of the Jade Mountain), which form part of the Vietnamese capital’s rich thousand-year-old cultural heritage. You can also enjoy more of Hanoi through my images in the photo essay ‘From Hanoi with love’.
Words are by Meera Vijayann.
This month, I teamed up once again with my favourite writer Meera Vijayann to bring you a slice of my recent travels in Vietnam. We’ve called this photo essay ‘From Hanoi with Love’ as a means of sharing some of the love I experienced while I was there. I’m not speaking of love for me, though my Vietnamese hosts were certainly wonderfully hospitable! I’m talking more of the passion they clearly have for their country, shared history and culture. Click below to see what I mean.
In the short time I recently spent in Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi, I was struck by a handful of things its residents had a very clear passion for. One was for the man who led them to independence from the French, Hồ Chí Minh. ‘Uncle Ho’, who famously taught his people to “love other human beings as you would love yourself”, was known for his simplicity and integrity on the one hand and his fierce commitment to Vietnamese nationalism on the other. Another passion was for their food. The young people who took me under their wings during my stay felt duty bound to introduce me to as many of the country’s speciality dishes as possible, no matter how weird and wonderful my palette found some of the ingredients to be (in truth, pretty much everything was delicious). Perhaps the overriding passion is for their country in general, as expressed so beautifully through the traditional art of water puppetry. The performance I went to see was entitled, So Sacred is the Word ‘Compatriots’, a sentiment I sensed echoing all around me, far beyond the theatre. It’s no wonder to me that the Americans met their match here during the Vietnam War.
The words for this photo essay were written by Meera Vijayann.
Readers of my monthly newsletter may have seen this image before, because I offered it as a free wallpaper download in the December 2012 issue (you can click the link if you missed it then and fancy emblazoning your desktop with it now, and if you’re not a subscriber then you can sign up here). That month, an assignment for GSMA Mobile for Development (which you can read about in my Journal here) took me to the city of Banares (or Varanasi) in Uttar Pradesh. North India felt very different back then. It was winter, and the nights were pretty cool. My translator hardly seemed to remove the thick scarf from around his neck, possibly even while he slept! Now, as yesterday’s festival of Holi signified, Spring is very much here.
During some free time between trips out to rural locations, I strolled down to the ghats, the steps that descend to the Ganges, the river that’s so sacred to Hindus. There’s so much going on down there, as pilgrims flock from all over the country and abroad to perform rites, people come in search of healing or else to die and be cremated, children play cricket or with kites, foreign backpackers and hippies play the tabla or even the West African djembe together, and much more. I just wanted to let it all unfold around me. Then, as darkness fell, the real magic began.
Back in Bangalore, I shared some of my images with writer Meera Vijayann, the recent winner of a CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist Award (read all about that here), and together we crafted this photo essay for you: