Recently, I get hooked with The Innocents Abroad written by Mark Twain. It is just so amazing to skim though word-ridden pages, reveling into a journey that took place nearly one century and a half ago. I feel amused a lot on learning about how people traveled at such old the time when cameras have not even been invented yet. And the writing is truly mind-blowing. I love all the descriptive paragraphs about Cathedral of Milan, about the magnificent scene at Gibraltar and love his sense of humor when talking about the Parisian barber shop in his mind and how that beautiful dream was shattered by the real barber in Paris. And I just wish to bring all these well-wrought paragraphs into my mind with a vague hope of using them someday, maybe, in my own journal, should I have the chance to take part in such interesting a voyage to cross the Atlantic and travel all along the Mediterranean or wandering Paris. The book was so tempting that it took me a little bit courage to leave home the day before yesterday to go downtown.
About the day before yesterday, the most important event that took place should be my 23rd birthday. Thanks to some kinds of welfare policy of my company, every employee is entitled to a leave on his own birthday, provided that his birthday is on a normal working day. I feel a little bit pitiful for ones whose birthdays fell on weekend or holidays. I knew they hate us a lot for such unfair the entitlement that have been bestow to us. What could I do now but take it for granted that life is sometimes unfair and learn to be content with being happier than the others. 😉 I have been waiting for this day so long and on the day before my birthday (I mean the day before the day before yesterday), I worked my ass off in order to finish all my tasks and somehow have a chance to enjoy my day to the fullest without getting any work-related calls from office. I set the out-of-office email that employed all the nicest tones which may not be employed any more until I bid a farewell to that place: “Dear my beloved colleagues (normally, dear senders). I am taking the birthday leave on Friday 17 July 2015 (I am sure that there was no one before me saying taking a birthday leave in their out-of –office notes but using a more boring term like annual leave) and having limited access to emails (I thought of stating that having no access to emails and it was the truth cause I did not bring the laptop back home but I didn’t say that). Should you have any urgent matter, please contact me via my phone number 0169 XXX XXXX (Once again, I intended to add something like “I prefer no work-related call, though” however, I was still conscious enough to be aware about another tough year with tougher assessments coming.)” I took a breath, re-read the whole message and found it so ordinary and decided to write some P/S after my own signature: “Should you have any birthday wish to me, feel free to drop some notes here (should Facebook or SMS do not work). I don’t mind checking tons of birthday wishes at the beginning of the next week.” Finding that it should be decent enough so as not to blow the mind of the toughest guys in the offices, I felt a little bit complacent and happy driving home.
17th July. I woke up early and was a little bit disappointed that there was no birthday wish to me at all. Yes, it is kinda disappointing experience for I used to receive many birthday wishes right when the clock struck its very first moment of the 17th July. It was not until 8 or 9 a.m. that I received some birthday wishes from some of my friends on Facebook. However, I felt better compensated on receiving lots of SMS from my close friends from university and middle schools. The situation improved much during the days when I started receiving more and more wishes from my friends on Facebook. Haha you may think I am a little bit childish but maybe birthday is the only time in the year that you may have the chance of basking in constant Facebook notifications and trust me such experience is kind of interesting. I have expected a birthday wish to come on this day but it came to me that the sender was of ignorance about such important an event. Or the sender ignored the fact that the sender’s friends kept posting their birthday wishes on my timeline. But such incident cannot ruin my day, you know. I felt happy to receive birthday wishes from my beloved family and friends and spent the whole morning reading my favorite pages in The Innocents Abroad.
Then the desire of getting downtown after spending days and nights in the uptown Keangnam Landmark Tower 72 burnt so ardently that I decided to give myself a big treat on my 23rd birthday. I drove to my favorite place in Hanoi – the Sword Lake and expended my afternoon wandering around the area. I bought some nice books that I yearned to buy for long, having a walk around the lake, taking some nice photos and meeting a friend of mine at college and having quite a nice chitchat.
With regards to Sword Lake, the place has been a favorite area of mine. One told me that it is too crowded for a walk and he preferred West Lake. I do feel that the Sword Lake is of my preference for the West Lake is too big for a walk and I am not the one who loves spending hours and hours sitting in a corner like him. It is not difficult for me to find my own peace while walking among the crowd and I even do not think the number of people around the Sword Lake can make a crowd at all (Though I must admit that the crowd I saw around the Sword Lake on holiday was so unbearable). And it was Friday, a nice day to celebrate your own walk without the fear of the crowd inflicting upon your own train of thoughts. I was so happy to see there were not many people walking around the lake that day and there were so many benches left unoccupied. It was not my first time that I made my own walk around the lake but I have never ceased to be amazed at the tranquility there. Such tranquility, of course, was not brought by the absolute silence or the open space as it was in the West Lake but somehow brought by the way people walking around the lake with great composure. Sometimes I tried imagining how the lake was like a couple of decades ago, thinking about how young people enjoyed having drinks by the lakeside as I have seen in some old pictures of Hanoi in the 70s. Sometimes I thought about how it would be like to wander around the streets in the faraway land. Sometimes I thought about the youth that I live in and wondered if I ever wasted every minute of this youth on such state of over-thinking.
There were some photos taken by me during the walk. They were not special enough to make you feel awed. The photos were just efforts of mind capturing things that make me amused, recording some moments at my own celebration before turning 24.