Saturday, July 28, 2007

Free Hug Day

This Saturday morning my office internet was down for a bit (one of the drawbacks to working in a foreign country that has an antiquated infrastructure - still, no exploding transformers under roads though). So I did what everyone else in this country would do - head to a nearby cafe and mooch their wifi.

Being me, I had two criteria: hassle free wifi and air conditioning. Headed to the closest Highlands Coffee, en tete of Ho Guom (aka Hoan Kiem Lake). Unfortunately they only had the overhead fans on, and were pretty empty too. Instead of wondering if one led to the other condition, I just booked and decided to walk down to Ciao Cafe, which is on the other end of the lake.

Power walking along the concrete banks of the lake, I saw the interesting sight above. There were about 50+ kids, probably college students, who all increasingly look younger as I age, a curious development we are all seemingly afflicted with, in a few disparate groups advertising free hugs. They were carrying both English and Vietnamese signs and attracted the tourists wandering around the lake as well as passing moto riders.

For a country that does not have public displays of affection, this was a light and lovely situation to behold. These kids were 'taking advantage' of the unspoken exception to the social opprobrium against PDA - that of the "public parks exception."

Day or night, in any park space, be it large areas like Lenin Park, or small tiled squares serving as a public plaza, you will see locals - teens, twenty-somethings, sometimes folks pushing parenthood - draped on each other, engaged in activities usually left to darkened movie theaters or back staircases in the high schools of one's youth. You witness more action in the local parks than in the Hollywood blockbusters imported here, mainly because the latter are censored a bit.

Anyhow, I refused the free offer but did get a chuckle to start my day. This all happened around 8:30 am on a Saturday morning. Don't these kids know the benefits of a hangover?


Preya said...

This is a pretty cool movement; I came across this video a few months ago:

overlain said...

The signs are in English -- does this mean they only offer hugs to expats or tourists?

D. said...

I didn't snap the signs in Vietnamese - these kids were equal opportunity huggers.