International Women's Day, March 8, is past, but the flowers are still blooming and the feminine smiles have still not faded. Facebook and other social networks are full of photos showing how women celebrated the day, with or without their lovers, husbands or male colleagues.
For Vietnamese women, the day - and Vietnamese Women's Day on October 20 - are special occasions. Never forget, super special! One Vietnamese nurse working in Germany phoned her male friend in Ha Noi this week, sobbing loudly because no one had given her any flowers. Boo hooo!
In Viet Nam, the boys and men always (always! don/'t forget!) present a beautiful bunch of flowers to the women in their lives before taking them out in the evening. If a couple are married, the husband goes into the kitchen and cooks a special dinner for his beloved .. and the rest of the family. All that women have to do that day is just sit and wait for gifts. Dressing up and doing nothing seems to be the main objective. For 24 hours, it's the Land of Smiles!
However, as indicated, Vietnamese women living abroad face the risk of being forgotten on either of these two momentous days. In Western countries and in Africa, few men - or women - seem to know about the international event. There are few exchanges in the floral department, and, of course, almost no smiles .
The reason Vietnamese ladies get all the attention, according to many visitors to vietnamnet.vn, is that they have been honoured since time immemorial. While accepting their duties as housewives, child raisers, house cleaners and so on, they have always been free to speak out.
However, in the West, both men and women often share housework and looking after the children. Work Bank studies recently highlighted Viet Nam's reputation throughout Asia for gender equality. Vietnamese women are seen as much better-off than many of their Asian counterparts, but they certainly have to work for the privilege!.
But, as one young woman wrote: "There are only two days for women each year, but the other 363 are all for men!
History student becomes a star
A twelfth grade student recently became a star when he became the only one at his school in Ha Noi to choose history as one of the four subjects for his graduation examinations in June. Nguyen Van Nam, one of about 200 students at Einstein Private High School, has been featured on many web sites as everything from "weird" to "a phenomenon".
His elevation follows a new regulation by the Ministry of Education and Training that allows high-school students to choose two subjects by themselves. The other two subjects, maths and literature, are compulsory.
The ministry's offer was considered a death blow for history, especially when Luong The Vinh High School was the first to report that no student had chosen the subject. This is understandable as history is seen as a most difficult subject, requiring many hours of committing events to memory. Many students complain that they are bored at the way the subject is taught. They just write down information during lectures and learn it by heart.
Chilling out in old Ha Noi
One wonders if Vietnamese feel the cold - and if they do, when and how? The question was prompted by observing motorbike riders whistling around cold, wet, dank Ha Noi over the last few weeks.
Every second one of them has his or her left hand in his/her pocket. This is as dangerous as it sounds - one bump and they're off! However, the point is that when the riders get home, or arrive at the office, they have no hesitation in opening the windows - or the doors if they are not already wide open.
And even in well-to-do rural households, children often run around on cold marble floors with their shoes off, jumping up and down like jack-in-the-boxes to greet visitors. And, despite the drizzle and the chill, hardly any of the hundreds and hundreds of coffee shops in the old capital have any doors or walls to repel the weather. — VNS