12. Tank 390

20 January 2019, 18:05

Vietnamese production, revolution, currency, and marriage ceremonies. These are the things you’ll find in one of the many museums scattered about the city. But first, you meet a German girl named Hannah, whose last name you can’t pronounce and who is only 18 years old. She graduated secondary school and wanted to work and be independent before going to Uni, which is short for “University” and the more common European word for what my people call “college.” My people. Strange.

Misinformation. Donald Trump. Immigration. Poor white people. Blame. Scapegoat. Recession. These are snippets of a normal conversation you might hear in your hostel because the people who use hostels are young, often single, sometimes educated, mostly international, and always liberal. See you in Australia!

Today, you learn more about Vietnam. About Tank 390 crashing through the gates of Independence Palace. About 1975, the year this country became reunified. About the war and American intervention and support of the South, who lost, and the CPV. Then you go to the zoo. There, you find sad animals who don’t belong in those dirty cages. Animals who need more space and better company. Animals who should be watching humans, and not the other way around. Except for the hyenas, which remind you of The Lion King. You ask Hannah, who you are spending the day with, if she knows this film. She doesn’t; you explain, but you can’t remember Simba’s name, so you just say “Mufasa’s son” and describe the circle of life. She listens, for real. You mention your discipline—English literature—and say that you admire Rilke and would like to study German literature someday. Hannah tells you the story of Faust by Goethe, of deals struck betwixt men and Satan and God. You tell her the story of Job. She listens, for real.

Sad hyena

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