This is the best thing about expat life I have ever read. I love this post because it expresses so well the contradictory experience of living in a place, and trying to be a part of the place, but instead just finding yourself involuntarily sucked into or pushed into a bubble of familiarity.
For our purposes let’s steal a casual definition of dissociation from Wikipedia: “a mild detachment from immediate surroundings.”
The expat community in Hanoi is so large there is nothing I can confidently say about it, other than it is small. Meaning five thousand expats have only a few well-known places to congregate on Friday nights when the state curfew takes hold and the xe oms and cabbies belong to a different state, the one known as red-faced inebriation. It is no surprise, then, that in the confines of Hanoi proper, white people collide with each other on dance floors, in restroom lines, waiting for drinks at bars. Even on the road, I kid you not, I was once driving north on Au Co and an acquaintance caught up on his bike, gave me a nod, and zoomed off.
In the beginning they ask me about my marital status, and I…
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