My first proper day in Hanoi. If I can’t get my computer working or a replacement, a one month stay here will be, while I am unwilling to say pointless, perhaps longer than necessary, considering my reasons for coming here, which weren’t to vacation and be a tourist (not that the photography hasn’t been brilliant already in just two hours).
I’ve finally eaten today, even if it is just a slice of orange bread with a flat white. I’m sitting in the most cozy and peaceful and adorable cafe in the Old Quarter, called Tranquil. Books & Coffee. For what I feel that I want at the moment it is absolutely perfect. Flat white was bad, though—too milky, too flat, too little coffee (that would be the same thing as too milky…). Maybe their espresso doses are small… The orange bread slice was magical, however, though I should probably eat a proper meal soon.
Jazz is playing softly in the background, injecting just enough rhythm and energy into the space to keep it from turning into a naptime nursery. A mellow voice and a light piano. I don’t know who it is, because I don’t know jazz, but I do know that it fits the mood here. Tranquil is precisely the thing necessary when one wishes to escape the chaos of the Old Quarter streets. It’s a damp, cool cloth to an overheated forehead. It’s a balm to a frenzied mind.
My elbow rests on the small, square table in front of me, and my chin—the full weight of my wearied mind—rests in the cup of my hand.
I’m gazing at the wooden counter, unseeing.
The sole, familiar sounds in here are the radio, the grinding of coffee, the tinking and tapping of coffee implements, the pump of the espresso machine, the aerating of milk, the stacking of ceramic cups, and the quiet which envelopes myself and each of these individual sounds and which acts as space for them to express themselves, a conduit by which they might move from source to sea—my interpreting brain via the canal of my ear. Silence, like space, is a fecund ground from which life may spring. Without silence there is only chaos, a solid wall of noise, uninterpretable, like trying to see through the solid rock of the Alps.
Right now, in my inner and my outer worlds, I am drifting; swimming a bit too, pulling an arm effortlessly, lazily through the warm waters of my world, kicking a leg easily. Swimming in space, and swimming in a silence whose veil is intermittently pierced by sounds the likes of which become pleasurable against the silence cradling them.
They are like arrows shot, puncturing air, gliding through space.
A falcon dives. The stars in the night sky sparkle.
Space may be black but silence is white.