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April 2024


April Fool’s Day.

Recently, temperatures in Hà Nội have been hovering around “surface of the sun” (+/- a few degrees), and as expected, it's been humid. Really humid…some days it's so humid there’s a haze in the air somewhere between light fog and thick mist. People here talk about having “sticky skin”.

Nature, it seems, has a sense of humor and likes playing tricks on me (explained later). As you can see in the picture below, trees here seem to think it's September, and coinciding with the onset of the rainy season, leaves are falling like…well? like rain? In a way, it’s a bit surreal. 

picture looking down concrete steps covered in golden leaves

In written Vietnamese, there are two ways to write the letter “D”. 

There is D (d)” as in “áo dài”, which means “shirt (áo ) long (dài)" or “long shirt”. Áo dài is the iconic, traditional silk formal-wear for men and women. It consists of a long (mid-shin-ish) split tunic worn over long silk pants. Just type “buy áo dài for men and women” into your favorite internet search engine if you aren't familiar with them.

Then there is the “Đ (đ)”as in “đúng dồi” in the north and “đúng rồi” in the south, which means “that's correct” or “that's right”.

In the northern dialect, the first, “D (d)” is pronounced “Zee” and in the south it is pronounced “yee”. 

In the northern and southern dialect, the latter “Đ (đ)” is pronounced “Dee”.

So, áo dài is pronounced “ow zai” in the north or “ow yai” in the south and đúng dồi is pronounced “dung zoy (pronounce dung as ”dune" but with "g" on the end - "duneg") in the north, and "dung roy" in the south.

For me, it can be frustrating at times. As an impulsive creature of habit, it takes concerted effort on my part to pay attention to these differences when reading, and repeating, a sentence during my weekly language lesson. 

Hence I might mistakenly pronounce this object “chuột không dây” (wireless mouse) as “chew-ot khuh-ong day” - saying the last word as a “d” (English “day”) instead of a “z” (Vietnamese “zay”), so I end up saying “mouse is not here” in Vietnamese, instead of the correct “wireless mouse” (“chew-ot khuh-ong zay”)

So what has all this to do with falling yellow leaves???

Much like my eyes want to fool me every time I see a written “D” in Vietnamese, my eyes want to fool me when I see leaves falling through the air in April. Somehow, as I shuffle through a golden carpet of fallen leaves I find it hard to reconcile what I see and what I feel. That is, it’s a bit of a challenge to pair the blistering heat I feel with the visual symbol of autumn in the US that I see. 

I might add, some trees shed their leaves here in Hà Nọi during the autumn, although 95% of trees are green year round. 



JULY, p. 9

AUGUST, p. 9


OCTOBER,  p.g 2,  p. 3, p. 4

NOVEMBER p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5, p.6, p.7

DECEMBER p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5 p.6, p.7, p.8

JANUARY p.2, p.3

FEBRUARY, p.2, p.3, p.4, p.5, 

MARCH p.2, p.3, p.4 p.5, p.6, p.7