Sketches show Hà Nội in subsidy period

January 03, 2019 - 07:00

Sketches of Soviet-style apartment blocks and old streets of Hà Nội are on display in the capital.

The exibition attracts many young people who want to understand Hà Nội in old days. — Photo courtesy of organiser
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Sketches of Soviet-style apartment blocks and old streets of Hà Nội are on display in the capital.

The exhibition in downtown Hà Nội is part of a series of cultural events entitled ’Memories of Hà Nội’, that began on Monday.

The exhibition showcases hundreds of sketches by Urban Sketchers, a group of amateur and professional artists from Việt Nam and elsewhere who are in love with the city.

They depict old apartment blocks and street corners where people share a common living space and nurture local culture.

These spaces feature an integral part of the urban area of Hà Nội, according to Trần Thị Thanh Thủy, the leader of Urban Sketchers Hà Nội.

On the occasion, the group launched a book entitled Old Apartment Blocks in Hà Nội gathering sketches by the group members and writing from 30 authors who were residents of the old apartments.

“We hope those who attend can relive the ambience of Hà Nội during the 1980s,” she said.

“The old apartment blocks are the most obvious symbol of the architecture during this period.”

Author Nguyễn Quang Thiều, who used to live in an old subsidy apartment block in the capital. said the book tells the story of Hà Nội during subsidy times in a lively manner.

“The event ‘Memories of Hà Nội’ will remind participants of the dramatic period when food, goods and services were purchased with coupons or food stamps.

“Some cuisine, clothes, home appliances and house designs were born during that time and can’t be found today. They become an important part in the memoir of anyone who experienced that time,” Thiều said.

The events are the result of co-operation between Urban Sketchers Hà Nội and Ngon Garden.

Phạm Thị Bích Hạnh, owner of Ngon Garden Restaurant, initiated the programme alongside a culinary experience, in which participants enjoy food that people consumed during the subsidy period.

“Those who were born and raised in Hà Nội during a subsidy period (1976-86) probably have unforgettable memories of that time,” said Hạnh.

“It is a time of hardship in history. Life was difficult due to a sluggish and inefficient production system. All essentials of life were provided in a very limited quantity.”

Hạnh said she organised the event with respect to traditional, cultural and historical values.

While reading the book and enjoying the drawings, people can experience dishes from the subsidy period such as rice cooked with cassava (rice was so expensive that people had to cook together with cassava), meat with fermented salty vegetables, peanuts fried with salt, dried fish and deep-fried tofu in fish sauce (due to a lack of the food, dishes were often salty to make people consume less).

Apart from the ‘subsidy’ meal, the restaurant also serves phở bò (noodles with beef).

"Middle-aged people will enjoy the meal with memories, meanwhile young people will enjoy with stories told by the previous generation," Hạnh said.

The exhibition of sketches will run until January 31 at Ngon Garden Restaurant, 70 Nguyễn Du Street, Hà Nội. — VNS

Memories: Thành Công apartment block by Vương Hoàng Long, exhibited at Ngon Garden at 70 Nguyễn Du, Hà Nội.