Indo-US chemistry, the Americanised Vietnam (Vietnam Diary)

October 30th, 2010 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Minu Jain
Hanoi, Oct 30 (IANS) If optics are anything to go by in diplomacy, everything is going just right between the US and India ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit. At the gala dinner here Friday night, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walked up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to warmly greet him and exchange pleasantries.

The prime minister, who was seated at the high table, and Clinton spoke for a few minutes, their chemistry evident. Clinton won’t be travelling with Obama, who comes to India for a much anticipated visit that begins Nov 6.

Clinton and Manmohan Singh, here for the India-Asean and East Asia summits, are also likely to meet here Saturday for a “free exchange of ideas”, sources said.


The new Americanised Vietnam

The dollar is a virtual parallel economy with even street vendors accepting the currency and giving any amount of change back, there are KFC outlets and tourists can go cruising on the Potomac boat - a country that symoblised anti-Americanism sentiment is not so anti-American any more.

The generation that fought the war with the Americans is fast fading away and the youth are looking ahead to a new, globalised world.

It is in this new unipolar world that the US - and Russia - are for the first time attending the East Asia summit here, ahead of their formal entry into the grouping next year.


Vietnam’s inspirational guerrilla is 100

The legendary General Vo Nguyen Giap, the architect of Vietnam’s epic victories against the French and the Americans, is 100 years old and in hospital. For an entire generation growing up on slogans “We shall fight, we shall win, Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh”, Giap is a revered and inspirational figure.

Known as the conscience keeper of the nation, the general spoke last in public in April 2009.

The master of modern guerrilla warfare, who is said to still inspire the Maoists in India, joined Ho Chi Minh in 1939 and masterminded the growth of the Vietnam resistance forces.

Giap, who once worked as a teacher and a journalist, is also said to have played a key role in framing Vietnam’s education system.


Uncle Ho’s body being re-embalmed

The Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, housing the body of the late Vietnamese leader, is closed these days. The body of the venerated Communist leader, who died in 1969, is being re-embalmed as it is every year with the help of Russian experts.

The mausoleum is a hot draw, attracting not just hordes of foreigners but also locals who stand in serpentine queues to file past the body in respectful silence.

The mausoleum, modelled after the Lenin mausoleum in Russia, has a strict dress code - shirts and long trousers, no touristy shorts and cutaways here.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at

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