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Hà Nội life in 1980s depicted in photos of former British diplomat

Update: October, 15/2016 - 09:00
The photo taken by John Ramsden during his worked in Việt Nam during the early 1980s.
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — The street corners, street vendors, festivals and small hamlets of 1980’s Hà Nội were lively and truthfully depicted through the len of photographer John Ramsden.

Decades later, his images serve as a time capsule. Yesterday, he released a pictorial book of about 100 monochrome photos of Hà Nội, as well as others of the northern region and HCM City, from 1980 to 1982.

Ramsden was sent to Hà Nội as part of the British Diplomatic Service’s mission. For three years, he traveled around Hà Nội and the surrounding areas to explore the life here. He took more than 1,800 photos of the daily life of Hanoians. He stored the photos for his memories.

He later shared his Hà Nội memories at an exhibition at the Museum of East Asia in Bath, UK. These photos returned to Hà Nội in 2013 for an exhibition.

Now, the book Hà Nội Một Thời (Hà Nội – Spirit of a Place) has been released by Nhã Nam Company in co-ordination with the British Council. The book release was facilitated by historians Dương Trung Quốc, Andrew Hardy, Vũ Thị Minh Hương and journalist/poet Phạm Tường Vân. 

In the early 1980s, Vietnam was beginning a difficult period following the war’s end. Amidst the post-war living environment, however, one could feel a sense of hope and a relentless fighting spirit.

The book is a valuable document to help readers learn more about Hanoi before the Đổi Mới (Renewal) period, said Nguyễn Quang Thiều, vice chairman of the Vietnamese Writers’ Association.

“Moments captured in Ramsden’s photos are eternal in Hanoians’ minds,” said Thiều.

“We can feel the peace in life and the tranquility in people’s souls.”

Quốc, a historian, stressed that each photo of Ramsden is a witness of Vietnamese history, even though he just captured the landscape and daily life of ordinary people in the society.

“I believe that each reader looking at his photos will find a part of his/her memory,” he said.The book costs VNĐ150,000. Today, Ramsden will exchange with readers and join a book-signing event at Nhã Nam Bookshop, 107B9 Tô Hiệu Street, Hà Nội. — VNS


Hà Nội Một Thời was released yesterday, showcasing a collection of photos of old Hà Nội.

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