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Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United eye moves for £25m Ajax star Hakim Ziyech

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United eye moves for £25m Ajax star Hakim Ziyech Comment Metro Sport ReporterSaturday 20 Apr 2019 11:35 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link919Shares Ziyech helped Ajax beat Juventus in the Champions League (Picture: Getty) Klopp reacts to Porto 1-4 LiverpoolTo view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video Play VideoLoaded: 0%0:00Progress: 0%PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration Time 10:50FullscreenKlopp reacts to Porto 1-4 Liverpoolhttps://metro.co.uk/video/klopp-reacts-porto-1-4-liverpool-1907920/This is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Ziyech’s current contract does not expire until 2021 but the Mirror say he can leave for £25million, a tempting prospect for some of Europe’s elite clubs.Unai Emery is desperate to bolster his Arsenal squad in the summer after the Gunners’ quiet January transfer window, and Ziyech’s bargain price will appeal the club’s board.Liverpool will also strengthen Jurgen Klopp’s dressing room, even if he leads the club to the Premier League or Champions League title.Manchester United, meanwhile, are expected to enjoy a busy summer with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side faltering after a bright start to the Norway legend’s reign.More: FootballBruno Fernandes responds to Man Utd bust-up rumours with Ole Gunnar SolskjaerNew Manchester United signing Facundo Pellistri responds to Edinson Cavani praiseArsenal flop Denis Suarez delivers verdict on Thomas Partey and Lucas Torreira moves Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd are all admirers of Ajax star Hakim Ziyech (Picture: Getty)Premier League rivals Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all expressed interest in signing Hakim Ziyech from Ajax, reports say.Morocco international Ziyech is enjoying a superb season for Ajax, scoring 19 goals to help the Dutch club impress both domestically and in Europe.With three league matches of the 2018-19 campaign remaining, Ajax currently sit top of the Eredivisie, three points ahead of title rivals PSV.Ajax’s young and exciting side also clinched a brilliant 3-2 aggregate win over Juventus during the week to progress to the semi-finals of the Champions League.ADVERTISEMENTMore: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityThey will meet Premier League club Tottenham in the last-four for a place in next month’s final.AdvertisementAdvertisementZiyech’s performances have caught the attention of a number of clubs across Europe and the Daily Mirror say multiple English clubs rate the 26-year-old highly.It is claimed Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been impressed by the midfielder this term and will continue to keep tabs on his situation ahead of the summer transfer window.Manchester City, who returned to the top of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Spurs on Saturday, are also reportedly keen, viewing Ziyech as a potential replacement for Ilkay Gundogan.last_img read more

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BLOG: Creating Jobs That Pay and Rebuilding Pennsylvania’s Economy

first_img Jobs That Pay,  The Blog,  Videos,  Year in Review Since day one, Governor Wolf has made “Jobs that Pay” a priority in Pennsylvania. This year, on Governor Wolf’s “Jobs that Pay” tour, the governor and members of his cabinet heard from business owners, industry leaders, and hardworking Pennsylvanians statewide about what the Wolf administration can do to help them thrive.Watch Governor Wolf talk about Jobs That Pay in 2015.The hard work of and partnerships between the Wolf administration and Pennsylvania’s businesses have already been seen in our job rates. For example, did you know that the record high for the total number of jobs in Pennsylvania was 5,859,400 in October 2015?In addition, in November, Pennsylvania surpassed our pre-recession high in the labor force employment count, which puts our state in an expansion period.The Wolf administration has worked to create policies that help set the table for robust private sector growth and support our manufacturing and new growth industries.Some of these policies include:Creating and sustaining good-paying jobs through public-private partnerships.Through the work of the Governor’s Action Team (GAT), an experienced group of economic development professionals who report directly to the governor, the administration is working with businesses that are considering locating to or expanding in Pennsylvania. In 2015, GAT completed 58 such relocation and expansion projects, which in turn created over 4,500 new jobs and helped retain over 11,000 positions.The phase-out of the Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax.Earlier this month, Governor Wolf announced the successful January 1 phase-out of Pennsylvania’s Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise tax, calling it “an unfair tax on business” that he was committed to eliminating. This outdated tax structure had failed to incentivize job growth in Pennsylvania, and while its phase-out was proposed as early as fifteen years ago, previous administration had delayed its elimination. The taxes were imposed on corporations with capital stock, joint-stock associations, limited liability companies, business trusts, and other companies doing business within Pennsylvania. Domestic corporations were subject to the capital stock tax, while foreign corporations are subject to the foreign franchise tax on capital stock apportioned to Pennsylvania. The elimination of the these taxes fosters a business climate that encourages job creation and creates a tax structure that is fair to business and taxpayers.A commitment to improving diverse and small business participation in state contracting opportunities.In September, Governor Wolf signed an executive order solidifying his administration’s commitment to improving the participation of small and diverse businesses – minority-, women-, LGBT-, veteran- and disabled-owned business ­– in state government contracting and the commonwealth’s overall economy. Executive Order 2015-11 (“Diversity, Inclusion, and Small Business Opportunities in State Contracting and Pennsylvania’s Economy”) directs a consistent and coordinated effort to ensure diversity and inclusion in all contracting opportunities for small and diverse businesses throughout agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction and promotes the creation of programs to better prepare those businesses to compete and succeed in Pennsylvania’s economy.Maintaining and creating vital industry partnerships with Pennsylvania businesses.This year, the Wolf administration and the Department of Labor and Industry received 36 Industry Partnership applications for $9,400,476 in FY15-16 funding. The total number of Industry Partnership participants this year was 2,524 and Industry Partnership trainings was 2,840.Prioritizing the vitalization of the Port of Philadelphia.On November 4, 2015, Governor Wolf announced his strategic plan for sustained management, maintenance, and development of the Port of Philadelphia. The governor emphasized his key priorities of investing in infrastructure, creating jobs, and keeping Pennsylvania economically competitive. In addition to establishing a timeline for the development of the Southport Terminal, Governor Wolf announced further steps his administration is taking to ensure long-term stability and growth at the Port of Philadelphia.Allocating millions in gaming fund investments to economic development programs in counties across the commonwealth.The Wolf administration joined the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) in approving the allocation of millions in gaming funds to Allegheny, Luzerne, and Monroe counties, among others, this year. These funds support community improvement, economic development, and public interest projects to help build a stronger workforce and spur job creation in these regions.Focusing on creating summer jobs for Pennsylvania’s youth.In 2015, the Wolf administration and the Department of Labor and Industry directed $3.5 million for summer jobs demonstration programs in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, $2.4 million was directed for a pilot program through “WorkReady Philadelphia,” targeting youth ages 12-24 in relatively low-income, high-poverty neighborhoods, resulting in more than 1,400 new summer positions. In Pittsburgh, $1.1 million was directed to fund approximately 200 summer jobs for low-income and at-risk high school students in a variety of STEM-related pilot internship programs, including Digital Manufacturing, Website Production, and Big Data Analytics.Governor Wolf also joined Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino, and tens of businesses statewide in making many exciting job announcements across the commonwealth this year.Check out a few of the headlines announcing new jobs in Pennsylvania:Lehigh Valley Express-Times: Grocery wholesaler expansion to create 500 jobs in Lehigh Valley. [12/01/15]Chesco Daily Local News: CTDI plans large testing and warehouse operation in Valley. [09/29/15]Allentown Morning Call: Medical device company moves to Valley, pledges 25 new, well-paying jobs. [08/04/15]Pittsburgh Business Times: Real estate firm heading to new digs, to add 115 jobs. [05/07/15]The Wolf administration made many new jobs announcements in 2015. Check out some of these announcements below:Five hundred new jobs due to a new expansion project at C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. in Northampton County. [12/01/15]In Philadelphia, 110 new, high-paying jobs at biopharmaceutical company Adaptimmune Therapeutics. [10/09/15]At Oak Hill Veneer in Bradford County, an expansion of the spliced hardwood veneer operations that created 73 new, full-time jobs.  [09/30/15]Sixty-four new, full-time jobs at Cook Myosite, Inc., a clinical stage biotech firm specializing in human cell regeneration, located in Allegheny County. [09/24/15]The creation of a new research and development facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, creating 190 new, high-paying jobs with Axalta Coating Systems, LLC. [09/09/15]An expansion of the R&D site at Alcoa, a lightweight metals manufacturer in Westmoreland County, to create at least 90 new, full-time positions. [09/03/15]Forty-one new, full-time jobs due to an expansion of operations at Lancaster County’s Bollman Hat Company, the oldest hat maker in the United States. [08/26/15]The creation of 30 new, full-time jobs at Neptune Solutions Company, a water treatment technology company serving the oil and gas industries, due to the establishment of their new headquarters in Washington County. [08/07/15]A new corporate headquarters and manufacturing operation site in Northampton County for orthopedic device company Tyber Medical, LLC, creating 25 new, full-time jobs. [08/04/15]In Fayette County, eighty new jobs at the new corporate headquarters of JLE Industries, LLC, a transportation and logistics company serving the energy and infrastructure development industries. [07/17/15]Two hundred new jobs at All Fresh Farms, LLC, an indoor hydroponic production and packaging operation, which established a new facility in Pike County. [05/21/15]An expansion of the SunOpta, Inc. manufacturing facility in Lehigh County, a move that created at least 53 new jobs. [05/20/15]In Pittsburgh, 115 new jobs due to the relocation and expansion of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), an integrated commercial real estate and investment management firm. [05/07/15]Fifty new jobs at a new Chester County facility for Universal Pasteurization Company, LLC, (“Universal Pasteurization” and “UPC”), a provider of high pressure processing (HPP) and cold storage services to domestic food manufacturers. [04/07/15] By: Sophie Stone, Deputy Press Secretary January 18, 2016 BLOG: Creating Jobs That Pay and Rebuilding Pennsylvania’s Economycenter_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitter See all of our Year in Review blog posts.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolflast_img read more

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Gator on a stick, Mardi Gras march set for Cajun fete

first_imgThe festival has raised more than $1.2 million for local charities over the years, he added. Started by the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise as a one-day clambake in the early 1990s, the event’s popularity exploded over the years after organizers adopted the Mardi Gras theme, turning the festival into Simi Valley’s biggest charity fundraiser. Randy Greene, the festival’s chairman, called the event a hometown tradition for him and thousands of others. “We’ll go over the $1.3 million mark this year with charity fundraising. That’s just huge,” he said. “That’s why I do it. I was born in Simi Valley. My passion is for my hometown.” The site has grown by 40 percent compared with last year, he said, and organizers expect more than 100 vendor and crafts booths. SIMI VALLEY – With its Mardi Gras parade, zydeco music and delicacies such as alligator on a stick, the Simi Valley Cajun and Creole Music Festival has evolved into one of Southern California’s more exotic Memorial Day weekend events. The event, which used to attract mostly adults, has turned into a family-oriented festival, with a new Cajun Kids area and children marching in the parade, throwing beads to spectators. This year’s event at the sprawling Rancho Santa Susana Community Park is expected to attract about 17,000 people to the city next weekend. “The people of Simi Valley are proud to have an event like this recognized around the nation as one of the top Cajun music festivals,” said Gary Stewart, president of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, which sponsors the event. “We have people visiting us from all over the nation, including Louisiana.” At 7:30 a.m. Sunday, a Gator Run will be held at the park to raise money for the Ventura County Fire Department’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial Fund. Festival attractions both Saturday and Sunday include the Cajun Kids area with bounce houses, climbing walls, demonstrations of Frisbee-catching by the Purina Incredible Dog Team and demonstrations of crime-solving skills by the Simi Valley Police Department’s K-9 police dog unit. There is a children’s arts and craft center and dance instructors will be teaching kids how to do Cajun dancing. The festival benefits a variety of organizations, including the Simi Valley Boys & Girls Club, the Ventura County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the American Cancer Society, the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, the Association of Retarded Citizens, the YMCA of Simi Valley, the Samaritan Center of Simi Valley, the Simi Valley Friends of the Library, the Simi Valley Senior Center and the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. [email protected] (805) 583-7602 If you go The Cajun Creole Music Festival will be held at Rancho Santa Susana Community Park, 5005 Los Angeles Ave., at 11 a.m. both Saturday and next Sunday. The festival ends at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. Parking is available at the park, at the Metrolink train station across the street, and at Simi Valley High School, about a mile east of the park at 5400 Cochran St. Tickets are $15, with children 12 and younger admitted free. For more information, go to www.simicajun.org. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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Brand South Africa and Touch HD partner to host Game of Heritage, Pride and Unity

first_imgJohannesburg – Thursday 19th September 2019 – Brand South Africa has partnered with Touch HD and Soweto TV, to host the first ever soccer match aptly named the Game of Heritage, Pride and Unity on Heritage Day, 24th of September.The game is the brain child of media personality Thabo Molefe, fondly known as Tbo Touch. He established an online audio platform in 2008 with a vision to be a world class service that provides podcast and audio live streaming services that bring the benefits of low data rates to the market.Speaking on the game, Thabo says “Nothing draws people together more than sport and soccer is huge in South Africa. We want to celebrate Heritage Day not just through embracing our different cultures (something that makes SA so beautiful) but through doing something that brings about a spirit of unity and patriotism through the friendly game of soccer between South African celebrities and sports icons”.“Brand South Africa is proud to be part of the inaugural Game of heritage, pride and unity. As an organisation we have to consistently find ways that promote nation building, pride and patriotism in order to unite the people of South Africa and this collaboration helps achieve our mission. Sport has the ability to unite nations and what better way to also showcase our diverse and colourful heritage,” said Brand South Africa’s Acting Chief Marketing Officer Ms Sithembile Ntombela.Cultural pride will be in the air with different proudly South African pop up shops and stalls selling everything cultural from clothes, food, art and jewellery. Spectators are encouraged to come dressed in ways that represent their pride in their heritage and country.Kick off will take place at the Nike Football Training Centre in Soweto in Soweto from 11am. Gates open at 10am.Entrance on the day is a South African Flag. These will also be available on sale at the venueJoin the celebration and follow us on #GameofHeritage #PlayYourPart #HeritageMonth2019 #InspiringNewWayslast_img read more

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REMINDER THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS TO THE VAUGHAN FILM FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL IS

first_img Facebook Login/Register With: Each year, in addition to the festival, VFF hosts an awards show to highlight the talentand celebrate the arts as a whole in the community. To date, VFF has contributed $23,000 in scholarships to local students for their post-secondary education. Grade 12 Students can apply for a chance to win a $1,000 towards their College or University tuition using any medium. Finally, all Ontario high school students can submit their short films to be showcased on the big screen and the winning school will receive $2,000.00.This year’s festival will run from May 14 – 17, 2018. Both International and high schoolstudent submissions deadline is January 31, 2018.Please see website for further information; https://www.vaughanfilmfestival.com. Advertisement Advertisement International & Student Film Submissions Close On January 31stVaughan, Ontario: The deadline is approaching for submissions and the 2018 festival is looking like it is going to be better than ever. This year’s judging panel includesGemini Award winners Amy Jo Johnson and Ellen Dubin as well as Oscar winner Tom McCarthy.Now in its 6th edition, this exciting five-day event proudly showcases both local and international talent – on all levels. Last year’s winners include Lieven Vanhove from Belgium who took home three awards including Best Film, Best Cinematography andBest Director for Nimmer! Canada’s own Alexandre Gourgeon won Best Documentary for his film I Am The Wolf. Italian Director Luigi Pane won the Audience Award for his film Black Comedy. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment Advertisement Twitterlast_img read more

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REVOLUTION OF THE SPIRIT

first_imgWhen early in 1947 Freda Bedi applied in Lahore for a British passport, she described herself as a journalist. She had spent years teaching English at a girls’ college, and was to resume that line of work in Kashmir, but in the mid-1940s, writing and reporting was her main occupation. The family circumstances changed for the better. Bedi’s writing and publishing, ranging from textbooks to ghost writing, started delivering an income and that, Freda said, ‘enabled me to take a rest from the rather hard routine of lecturing in the college and travelling backwards and forwards so many miles a day. So the years ’42 to ’46 were years when I was more at home and writing.’ She relished the chance to have a calmer, more settled domestic life. Indeed she commented of the political activity in Lahore which now became a less prominent part of her life: ‘I didn’t particularly enjoy doing all this. I would have preferred, frankly, to sit at home and have a more peaceful family life. But it was the way life was, and there was no choice.’ Whether this was a downplaying of the political expressed later in life when the spiritual aspect was foremost, or reflected a disdain for the rough-and-tumble of a political existence which was born more of duty than conviction, it’s difficult to say – probably a bit of both. She also faced another political difficulty – as the Communist Party, and so her husband, fell out of step with the rest of the nationalist movement, husband and wife were also increasingly at odds about how best to achieve an independent India committed to social justice. Also Read – Torpedoing BengalAs a writer, Freda achieved a prominence to match her political reputation –and it was the work she most relished. In her student days, when her friends were talking excitedly of their personal ambitions, Freda’s goal was to write. She published two books, largely collections of her writing for newspapers and magazines. As a columnist, she addressed women’s issues with a directness which was startling. Throughout 1943, she had a weekly column in the Tribune entitled ‘From a Woman’s Window’ which tackled issues – such as childbirth and breast-feeding – which rarely surfaced in the mainstream media at that time. But her focus on gender, and the unfair and unequal burden on India’s women, was evident much earlier. Throughout her adult life, she sought to extend the bounds for women in public life. It would be difficult to describe Freda as a feminist. In her marriage, she willingly embraced a subservience to her husband and his personal and political ambitions. When she argued for women’s interests, it was not on the basis of a principled demand for equality but of a measure more equity and respect. As a Tibetan Buddhist, she eventually found a comfortable niche with a distinctly patriarchal spiritual tradition which – as with most major religions – limited and confined women’s role. Yet her championing of women, and her campaigning for the redress of women’s grievances, was a consistent aspect of her life, and first became evident as an activist and writer in pre-independence Lahore. Also Read – Educational model of coexistenceIn the spring of 1936, eighteen months after arriving in India and just a few weeks before Tilak’s death, Freda was prominent in a public debate on the desirability of birth control clinics. The event was organised by the medical college students’ union, and addressed a pressing issue in an era of large families and high infant and maternal mortality. ‘Mrs Freda Bedi said that birth control did not mean no babies, it meant better babies; it did not mean no motherhood, but sensible motherhood. Birth control clinics should really be called “sensible motherhood clinics”. Motherhood should be a glorious fulfilment of all that is best in woman and a source of vitality and joy and woman should not be condemned through relentless and machine-like production of children. The way to ensure this was to have efficient birth control clinics established in the Punjab where the service should be absolutely free.’ There was lively opposition to her argument, with speakers expressing concern about birth control being sinful, leading to sterility and frustrating India’s need for a large army, but the chair of the meeting declared that the general sentiment was in support of the clinics. A couple of months later, Freda wrote for the Tribune’s magazine section as part of a debate about the segregation of the sexes. ‘All healthy minded people must agree,’ she declared, ‘that it is best if girls and boys can mix freely socially, while keeping a good attitude towards one another. … To my mind, co-education from childhood upwards is the only solution.’ But swayed by her experience as a college teacher, she was also concerned that women students were ignoring skills such as cooking and sewing. ‘The trouble with the present system is that a young man is usually faced with the alternative of a young modern educated wife, who has no idea of running a home intelligently or of bringing up children well, or on the other hand of a pretty girl, very uneducated, who can cook, sew and manage and bring up children but will live a life very apart from him, and be quite unable either to act as a hostess to his friends or to educate his children in the way he would like. I believe that in modern India, a wife, if she is to be useful must be educated, but I am shocked at the way girls in college here neglect learning household affairs. After all, the majority of girls are going to be married and it is only kindness to their husbands to be and their children that they should know something of the more practical things of life.’ In comments that must have upset some of her students, Freda went on to say that the ‘trouble is that, because higher education is something of a rarity here still, girls become swelled-headed and think that they are sure to marry rich husbands and that it is below their dignity to work in the house.’ This combination of progressive and traditional outlooks was a hallmark of Freda’s take on life, and evident in it is how she saw her own role in the household, as her husband’s companion and collaborator, but also as the homemaker. (Photos extracted and text excerpted with permission from The Lives of Freda; written by Andrew Whitehead; published by Penguin. The excerpt here is a part of the chapter titled ‘From a Woman’s Window’.)last_img read more

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Chowkidar chor hai banners put up near Supriyos house

first_imgKolkata: Tension spread in Asansol after some banners were put up near the house of outgoing BJP MP from Asansol Babul Supriyo on Tuesday afternoon, saying ‘Chowkidar Chor Hain’.An irate Supriyo pulled down the banners, tore them apart and finally set them on fire. It has been learnt that after returning from his election rally in the afternoon, Supriyo found that a banner had been put up close to his residence in Asansol. The BJP leaders in the districts alleged that some local Trinamool Congress leaders might have been involved in the incident, to trigger violence ahead of elections. The district Trinamool Congress leaders have, however, denied the allegation. It may be mentioned here that Supriyo has been under the scanner of the Election Commission after he was found playing the controversial theme song of the party. EC has already sought a report from the District Election Officer (DEO) of West Burdwan regarding the issue. It was alleged that Supriyo and other BJP leaders have been playing the song despite the ban imposed by the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO). The election officials also instructed the DEO of West Burdwan to take necessary steps in order to check playing of the controversial song. Supriyo had played the song during his election rallies on Sunday and Monday, flouting the guidelines issued by the CEO’s office.last_img read more

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Hanoi Of timeless charm

first_imgHanoi, the historic capital city of Vietnam, the oldest capital in Southeast Asia, founded in 1010 CE, is seductively charming – approachable and aloof at the same time. The cradle of Vietnamese civilisation is a tangle of the ancient and modern, a quaint blend of enchanting Europe and chaotic Asia. Nestled in a great bend of the Red River, Hanoi, a city with a dozen lakes and narrow congested streets, still carries the flavour of its colonialists, with its tree-lined French-style boulevards and amber villas. We are overwhelmed by the timelessness of the place as we walk its catacomb of bustling streets and feel ourselves passing through millennia-old history, tangible in its environment and sights. Its saga of struggle against the various forces – Russians, French, Chinese and Americans at various periods – is palpably ingrained in its character. Vietnam’s turbulent past and the vivacity of its present are inimitably reflected in Hanoi, the city which the French imperialists held as the capital of all of Indochina from 1902 to 1953. We take a leisurely cycle ride through ribbon-broad labyrinthine streets. The alleyways and narrow streets of its Old Quarter are still named for the crafts and trade that migrants from villages once practiced. It was here, in the Red River Delta, that several traditional arts and crafts including lacquer ware and silk crafts flourished. ‘Tube-houses’ with narrow fronts flank the streets that sell everything from eats to inexpensive souvenirs and merchandise. While we see well-to-do locals relax in trendy restaurants and coffee shops that dot the Old Quarter, the city’s pavements or sidewalks, we observe, are the happening places in Hanoi. They double up as kitchens and living rooms where cooking and entertaining happen routinely. People huddle together in low seats at street corners and engage in leisurely banter over steaming bowls of ‘pho’, the local noodle soup. The traffic scene in Hanoi is mind-boggling as it swarms with zig-zagging two-wheelers and the popular mobile taxis or ‘xe om’ as they are locally called. Vietnamese women donning conical hats, hawking flowers, fruits, vegetables and cooked food from deftly balanced shoulder poles, worm their way through this chaotic maze of vehicles. My heart skips several beats as we stand at the swarming intersections to cross over. However, I am forced to admire the manner in which the motorists adjust their course to pedestrians crossing the roads as long as they continue to walk slowly and calmly, unruffled by the gaggles of motor scooters. A few hundred metres away from the Old Quarter, we come upon Hồ Hoàn Kiếm, the ‘Lake of the Restored Sword’, the centre of downtown Hanoi, it is a spiritual and sociocultural hub, a tourists’ and shoppers’ paradise. If it throbs with joggers and exercise buffs in the early hours of dawn, its verdant precincts attract tourists and local picnickers during the day. According to legend, Le Loi, a 15th century emperor, received a sword from a magic turtle at the lake’s edge which he later used to drive away the Chinese from Vietnam. A little away, a red-hued wooden bridge brings us to the majestic Ngoc Son Temple. The trademark Vietnamese Water Puppet Show in the evening, serves as grand finale to our first day in Hanoi that sees us explore the Old Quarter. The Thang Long Water Puppet show with its characters, resplendent in colorful traditional attires, encapsulates Vietnamese life in an interesting way. The performance is done on an underwater stage, accompanied by native music. The spellbinding show narrates the origins of Vietnamese people, beginning with the marriage of Lac Long Quan, the dragon King, and the fairy Au Co. Compelled by curiosity, we head first to the city’s Presidential Palace area in Ba Dinh district, on the second day of our stay in Hanoi. The broad square is dominated by an imposing granite edifice where the legendary “Bac Ho” or “Uncle Ho” as Ho Chi Minh was fondly referred to, lies embalmed. We take our place in the serpentine queue to see in flesh, the national hero who led communist Vietnam’s fight against the US forces. He is on display in a glass sarcophagus at this mausoleum. It is evident that he is idolised by his people, venerated next only to God. The One Pillar Pagoda built on a lake in the Presidential Palace area, catches our attention as we see hordes of tourists proceed towards it. Considered the most unique pagoda in Asia, the structure, designed to resemble an open lotus, symbolising purity, was built in the 11th century CE by the then emperor, Ly Thai Tong. According to legend, the heirless emperor dreamt of being handed over a male infant by the Goddess of Mercy. When he did beget a male child, he built the pagoda as an act of gratitude. The original shrine, built of wood on a single stone pillar, was destroyed by the French in 1954. It was rebuilt by the Vietnamese government. The political and cultural capital of Vietnam, often termed as the city of poets, Hanoi is very much viewed as a bastion of Confucian values and Communist doctrines. Perhaps, nowhere is this better reflected than in the 1,000-year old Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s oldest university. Built in 1070 CE, dedicated to Confucius, the Temple of Literature was constructed as a place of learning rather than religion. While the university closed in 1779, it still contains vestiges of the eras gone by. It is a fine example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, set in lush and picturesque environs. It is laid out in a sequence of five courtyards and spanned by a trio of pathways that run the length of the Temple. Expansive gardens with a plethora of foliaceous trees, topiary animal sculptures and small ponds attract visitors to it. We wind our Hanoi trip with a visit to its infamous Hoa Lo Prison, also called Maison Centrale. Only a fraction of the sprawling complex which was originally built by the French in 1896, is now preserved as a museum. Nothing prepares us for what we see at this French-built hell-hole, Hoa Lo, literally meaning “stove”, and sardonically named Hanoi Hilton by the American POWs. We are overwhelmed by a sense of revulsion as we see the dank cells where Vietnamese revolutionaries were held captive and subsequently guillotined, various grisly exhibits showing acts of gore and the torturous suffering of prisoners. Swathes of the city witnessed complete destruction, especially during the US bombing rom 1965 to 1973. Scars of embittered wars doubtlessly remain, poignant, yet well-masked as Hanoi continues to develop and forges ahead with economic reconstruction. Tourists throng the city, the multicultural fabric of which points towards its openness as people from diverse cultures, religions and nationalities coexist in harmony.last_img read more

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