Today was so windy the smog practically rolled south of Hoan Kiem lake; it was the clearest view I’ve had of the tiny gray pagoda in the center. Walking along the water’s edge, on my way to the post office, it was the first time I felt that I belonged here; not to say I have the sturdy belonging of a local born and bred, obviously, but something much more than the fleeting existence of a tourist. In other words, an expat.
The question I am most confronted with these days is, “Why Hanoi?” It’s a natural question, one that follows the dictums of polite conversation with strangers, but I still hesitate despite the frequent opportunities to get it right.
The short, manufactured answer is that it’s a cheap, beautiful, interesting place with food I could eat forever. In this most practical sense, the question quickly becomes, “Why not Hanoi?”
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