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Hanoi in the eyes of a foreign expat

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 . Last updated Thu, 25 Jun 2015 08:53

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Due to the love for Hanoi, Martin Rama, an economist wrote the book “Hanoi promenade” to express his relationship and emotion with this city. This book has depicted characteristics that make Hanoi exceptional in the eyes of tourists.

Martin Rama arrived in Hanoi for the first time in 1998. For a couple of week he was in Vietnam fell in love with Hanoi. In 2002, he moved here and started taking photos of the city of decided to write a book about Hanoi. This book likes a spiritual food like Pho. This dish is delicious and uses many ingredients. It is hard to separate these ingredients from the others when eating a bow of Pho; you just know its special taste. 

“Hanoi promenade” was first published in Vietnam in March this year. The book contains 24 chapters and hundred photos taken over the past decade by Martin Rama. The author allows readers of any nationality to share the experiences of the images and thought from different perspectives around the city. For foreigners who are enchanted by the charm of Hanoi but it finds difficult to explain why, this book can help.

Hanoian themselves in spite of their shared the love of city, they would be hard-pressed to tell what exactly make Hanoi so special. The book also helps the local look at their city in a new life. Rich vocabulary, epitomized and rare photos of Hanoi as well as Hanoian dating back to a decade ago, “Hanoi promenade” might be created by a journalist or a fiction writer, but Martin Rama is an economist. He is renowned for many his researches and reports on the economic policies, economic reforms in poverty reduction in many countries. Martin Rama is now a chief economist in South Asian of the World Bank based in Deli, India. He and his team actively engage with counterparts in government and academia, civil society and the business community.

From 2002 to 2010, Martin was the World Bank lead economist for Vietnam based in Hanoi. Between 2007 and 2009, he also served as the Acting Country Director for the World Bank in Vietnam. In this capacity, he oversaw the World Bank program in the country, in the areas related to economic policy and poverty reduction. He was also the focal person in the policy dialogue with the government in relation to economic reforms and a series of a new policy lending operations co-financed by a dozen of donors.

Besides piles of documents, reports and researches on economic issues, Martin Rama often spends a huge amount of time walking through the country, taking thousands of photos of Hanoi and read anything he could find about this city. “Hanoi promenade” is quite a lot of emotional personal reflection that he doesn’t put when he works on economic report. This book is his relationship with this city, about his emotion about the city.

Hanoi has more than 7 million people offering a great picture of so many lives. The city’s average population density is estimated 8 times higher than the country. For most foreign visitors, the first image of Hanoi is one chaos. Most foreign visitors can soon realized that this chaos is actually got into by subtle rules, but widely said rules. Once the rules are understood making sense of it, all become easy. Water is a part of Hanoi’s landscape. Hanoi actually means in the band of the river or a river runs through it together with a large rivers and small beautiful lakes lying on the turn of a street or the end of an alley.

Thousands of old houses throughout Hanoi tell how dominant the Beaux Arts deterring of the early 20th century.  The architectural style was in vogue in Paris 300 years ago. Those houses bearing the Beaux Arts style bring the charm of this city. By the time, Martine moved to Hanoi 12 years ago, there were about 120 French mansions in Hanoi managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affair. Mansions dated back to a century ago, architectural designs, lakes and rivers, street life are big elements that describe Hanoi in the eyes of Martin. He always regards the city as a woman both good and bad characters. Martin says he has read everything he could find about this woman in the hope of knowing her and understanding her better than those who came before him or even after him. And “Hanoi promenade” is a way for him to capture one tiny decade in the life of the city in the end of first millennium of Hanoi. 


Source: VTV4 –

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