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January 28, 2020, 8:25 am

World Bank expert expresses love of Vietnam capital in pictorial book

(14:13:49 PM 09/08/2014)
(Tinmoitruong.vn) - A Uruguayan expert of the World Bank program in Vietnam has released a pictorial book on Hanoi, which he has been infatuated with after eight years living in the capital city.
'Ha Noi, Mot Chon Rong Choi' (Hanoi Promenade), a pictorial book on Hanoi by Martin Rama, who served as the Lead Economist for the World Bank program in Vietnam from 2002 to 2010
 
Martin Rama served as the Lead Economist for the World Bank program in Vietnam from 2002 to 2010 when he lived in Hanoi.
 
His book, “Ha Noi, Mot Chon Rong Choi” (Hanoi Promenade), translated into Vietnamese by a local translator, was launched in the capital in late June.
 
The book features hundreds of photos of Hanoi streets, architecture and people which were taken by the author himself, and offers slices of the city’s culture and history through his brief writings.
 
In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Rama said that he has fallen in love with Vietnam’s capital city since the first time he visited it in 1998.
 
During the length of his stay in the city, he would go around with his camera on weekends, trying to capture whatever seemed interesting, but without any particular purpose. 
 
It was only around 2009, as he was classifying his photos, that he realized there were common themes, and enough material about each of them to support a potentially interesting chapter.
 
“At one level, I would claim that my book is a well-researched work. I did a thorough review of written and visual material in connection to each chapter, reading almost everything I could put my hands on, talking to journalists, and seeking views from friends,” Rama shared.
 
“At another, I wrote the book in the spirit of a love declaration, almost as if Hanoi was a beautiful (and at times difficult) woman whom I was cohabiting with and the book was a way to praise what makes her so special in my eyes,” he stressed.
 
The cover ôf 'Hà Nội, Một Chốn Rong Chơi' (Hanoi Promenade), a pictorial book on Hanoi by Martin Rama, who served as the Lead Economist for the World Bank program in Vietnam from 2002 to 2010
 
The incredible Hanoi
 
The Uruguayan expert shared that he appreciated the mixture of architectural styles, with Chinese, French and Soviet influences nicely co-existing side by side in Hanoi.
 
“I was amazed by the vibrancy of the city, often on the fringes of messiness but a very lively messiness. Above all, I was charmed by how much life there was in the streets. Almost everything, from work to food to love, can happen on sidewalks and on motorbikes,” Rama observed.
 
He adores the central areas of the city: the French quarter, or the Truc Bach area, and is also charmed by some of the villages around the city.
 
Rama considers Vietnam’s capital “a city worth living and loving,” and has continued to return to it since 2010.
 
In the foreword of his book, he referred to the city as “she,” as a way to reinforce the “love declaration” aspect of the book.
 
“Hanoi is charming in the way Vietnamese village girls are. She may not be as well-tendered and manicured as rich European capitals, but she is truly beautiful. And there is no way to get bored with her, lively as she is,” he remarked.
 
However, he finds Hanoi’s weather quite difficult, especially in summer time. 
 
Rama also wrote in his book that the city is as alluring as a bowl of “pho” (noodle with beef or chicken), the capital’s quintessential delicacy.
 
“‘Pho’ is a delicious meal made of many different ingredients that blend together extremely well. They blend so well that it becomes difficult, when having 'pho,' to disentangle one ingredient from another. I thought that the charm of Hanoi is a bit like the taste of a good bowl of ‘pho’: it takes some effort, even some professional knowledge, to dissect the contribution of different elements – the street layout, the architecture, the weather, and the street life,” the author noted.
 
Martin Rama, who served as the Lead Economist for the World Bank program in Vietnam from 2002 to 2010, is shown at the June 2014 launch of his pictorial book on Hanoi titled 'Ha Noi, Mot Chon Rong Choi' (Hanoi Promenade)
 
Rama has also noticed remarkable changes about Hanoi since his first visit in 1998.
 
“The city has become bigger and more prosperous. Beautiful buildings have been renovated but many others have been demolished or transformed in tasteless ways. There are tremendous changes, positive and negative, all happening at the same time. Sometimes I am worried by the developments I see. But I want to remain hopeful that Hanoi will not lose her soul as she develops,” he shared.
 
The economic expert also noted that many cities in the world have become economically successful at the expense of their character. 
 
“East Asia is actually full of generic and relatively uninteresting places.  But I am convinced that this is not unavoidable, and good urban development policies can leverage market forces to contribute to the architectural character of a city and preserve its social fabric,” he said.
Source: Tuoi Tre
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