The first time I went to Hanoi, I stayed in a small, damp motel room in the alley of Kham Thien market. It took me a month to remember the way to that little open alley and it took me an hour to go through O Cho Dua intersection.
Half a year later, I was on the road, and I got used to the environment. Because of many inconveniences, I moved to a small attic, climbing six flights of stairs every day. In the summer, the surrounding is a very hot corrugated iron roof, but in return there is a small terrace, at least you can go out there to breathe the air instead of only four walls around.
I remember every night at midnight, the landlady went up to the alley to chant sutras, the opposite room was the worship room, the lights were always dim and red. But because it's very cheap, you can save as much or as much. You won't be afraid to come home from work all day, sleep with your back. Aunts and uncles are also very good at celebrating Tet and mid-autumn festival, giving them cakes and gifts.
Later, I learned that some things were not so good, so I moved to another place. I moved into another room at the end of winter which was also the last house in three years outside of Hanoi.
In the yard there is a very big star fruit tree, my room also has a small balcony, I like it very much. The weather is cool, make a pot of tea, turn on a really chill music and watch through the window the drizzle falling through the leaves, then leisurely walk in the alley to make a bowl of vermicelli to warm your stomach.
The days in Hanoi, with a small town kid like me, were always in cramped rooms with only ten square meters. I used to wish I had a bigger place in the future, I would buy a lot of trees and books, I would make a big window to let the sun in, go to the balcony at night to make tea.
Then I went south, moved back to a small city, not too busy but not too crowded. The weather is also much cooler than in the North. My balcony has a lot of trees, has a window to catch the sun, in the morning to welcome the dawn and at night the whole city shimmers with yellow lights.
But I still feel empty and unhappy, I always remember the old things, the difficult days, the small attic, the same balcony. Isn't this the room I dreamed of?
There are very strange feelings, when you can't have it, you always want to have it, when you have it, you don't know how to appreciate it, but always look forward to nostalgia for the past.
So later on, I learned to live in the present knowing enough to be happy, not standing on this mountain looking at that mountain or comparing.
Having a big house to have a place to go to after many storms is also a blessing, having a beautiful car and a bad car to go to the place you need is already a blessing. It's not just knowing enough that you don't strive or develop, but you let your mind be at peace, you're happy with your choices and enjoy the moments you live.
Because I know that life is too impermanent, it's impossible to want to go back even for a second.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 PHAM HOANG BAO YEN