Building a new life is a multi-dimensional process. One selects a place, a region, a city or a neighborhood. Then one starts making human connections. Some are transient, others are lasting. One never knows.
Here are early connections that already comprise our “Hanoi network”
We were sitting in a cafe, when Peta initiated conversation with a friendly woman sitting next to us. Vietnamese, with perfect English. Turns out she has an MBA, has had jobs in several start ups, and Peta immediately seized on the potential for us to work with her for our future Climate Adaptation Solutions business. Couple of emails later, she invited us to come to her home, to meet her husband, and to further explore a potential business relationship.
|This is so remindful of CO2 Bambu early days. Working off someone’s dining room table to lay out grand plans. Fast forward 1 week and Hien has already proven extremely valuable, as she has organized key meetings with Vietnamese VIP in pursuit of a World Bank opportunity (more on this later)
Another early connection is a hyper-productive, mover and shaker. Physical Doctor by day, owner of a hip cafe by night, Tony has a mission. He is the organizer of Gay Pride Vietnam – a heroic effort given the extreme cultural bias against gays in Vietnam. We met him precisely on the eve of his big annual event, the second annual Vietnam Pride 2013 event which we attended.
The Dutch Ambassador, who sponsored the Gay Pride event, gave an interesting speech, pointing out that Amsterdam had just had its largest ever Gay Pride event, over 1 million strong.
He got huge clamors from the crowd as he explained that, despite being a member of the Netherlands diplomatic corps, he is openly gay, and in fact his husband (since same sex marriage is legal in Holland) was in the room. That got everyone’s attention about how far Vietnam has to go in terms of multi-gender acceptance.
Interesting for us was the fact that the event was physically held at the Goethe Institute, a German global organization that spreads German interests globally. One of the movies shown to illustrate the plight of homosexuals was a French movie about two gay French guys during WWII, “Love to hide”.
This was a poignant movie that really transported one to 1942 France under German control. The imagery about savage German treatment of Jews and homosexuals was rather interesting, given that it was held inside a German facility. The main character, gay, not Jewish, was subject to “rehabilitatio”, in Dachau, that ended in a lobotomy.
Over 100,000 homosexuals died in German camps. Interesting piece of often forgotten history.