Sunday, August 25, 2013

The photographer

Calgary, 25th Aug 2013

Dear brother,

By the time you read this, you would know I am into photography for almost all my life. It's been 7 years now.

I realized the reason I love photography: hiding. I'm hiding behind the lens, in the corner, the way I am always in life. It's a comfort quiet place to be, as I observe people and lives passed me by.


Behind the colors and the scenes and the people and the smile and the intimacy, there's that incredible loneliness. It's like there's a wall made out of black holes that I made. I wonder if I will ever change, or be included.

Behind every pair of eyes, there is a soul. Behind every layers of mirrors and lens, there's mine.

Your brother

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The lone adventurer

Vancouver, 15th August 2013

Dear brother

I typed this to you in a hotel room in Vancouver. At 23rd floor, with the view to the mountains and ocean, it does feel like I'm on top of the world.

It's my 4th solo trip. And as much as I enjoy it, I think I'm getting a little too old for these solo trip. I wish you were here brother. I enjoy travelling with you.

So, here are a few things I learned during this travel, and I want to share them with you

- Reading map is such an important skill. I walked collectively around 20 km in 3 days. I got lost often. Yet, every place that I was, I had wonderful surprises and images to prove. The best way to travel, and to experience a culture, is to walk, and get lost, and talk to the people. I had interesting conversations with coffee girls and park walkers, etc. It's a great experience

- Blue-collars are such delightful people to hang out with. Living a long time in elitist society (and to think a Master in Software Engineering is a white-collar profession is rather obnoxious, but I'd take that notion), I have always find delights and amazing lessons from others who might not have the same educational background. Perhaps that's because of dad and our humble background when I grew up. But more so, people who work hard for an honest living can be so wise, and down to earth, and so friendly at the same time. (Not that white collars aren't. They are just a little more judgemental at times).

- Young people need to learn respect. There were 2 young men on the bus, who look and sound like they were on drugs. They were loud, obnoxious, and when the (African) bus driver (politely) asked them to shut up, they shouted "Is that because I am white?" To think we live in this day and age, and to think these are college kids going home for vacation, it makes me sick to my stomach. Not that all young people are like that (I met some delightful young wise ones), but it just shows how much more we need to do to teach respect and kindness, than just academic.

- I might be a closeted mountain person. I mean I love the beach. I was born and grew up near the beach. But I miss the mountains almost immediately. Well, maybe in Calgary I can have both :p

- I'm secretly a romantic. I might be cynical and bitchy and acting all intellectual and shit, but I'm all mushy inside. There were a European couple sitting at the next table, and when the guy lean over, kissed his partner, I was just like "Awwww". I know. I know.

- Travelling alone can be emo-inducing. But when you make the most out of it, it can be all-empowering. It makes me believe "I can do this". I'm a planner, a walker, a photographer, and most of all, a loner.

So, there we are. A memorable short trip that is much needed before I explode with stress. Now, back to the 5th email my prof sent this morning. LOL

With love little bro. Next year we will do so many amazing trips together

Your brother

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

Calgary, Aug 8th 2013,

Dear brother,

I met with Gary and Ray today over coffee. And after 6 months of meeting you, they still tell me how much they are impressed with you. Simply not only you speak amazing English (their words "his English is better than you. There's no hint of an accent") but also your knowledge in culture, history and politics. 

I am proud of you. I know you are sick of hearing it from me, but I am indeed proud of you, more than anything or anyone.

I know Vietnamese people we know, including mom and dad, are unreasonably harsh on you and they always say you are too quiet, too "lam li" and not enough social skills. I think they are wrong. You are just an introvert with amazing soul and wonderful wisdom of life.

I know sometimes when we hear negative things about ourselves long enough, we believe it to be true. But trust me brother, you are a great kid, and soon to be a great man. I know of it. I am sure of it. And I am damn proud of it too.

With love
Your brother