The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

Posts tagged “essay

Tale of Two Cities, or Good Bye Viet Nam

Posted on July 25, 2015

My last sights of Vietnam are from the humming nadirs of Saigon’s scraped skies, gazing up at this city in marvel with that flat smoky jungle Hanoi forever the backdrop of my mind. How different these cities are. There are even cutesy illustrations about how Vietnam’s pair of beating hearts differ in their consumption of pho, preferred altar fruits, work relationships with superiors and general communication patterns (the rough translation: Saigon’s talk is straightforward and efficient, Hanoi’s calls for finesse and indirectness). I ask young locals here about their perceptions of Hanoi. Most answers implicate backwardness and a lack of excitement in Vietnam’s capital city, half the size of Saigon at around seven million people. “I wouldn’t be able to live in Hanoi,” says…

No, It Can’t Be Better Than This

Posted on November 24, 2013

As a child in elementary school, I remember The Day – the last day of school – as something definitive and momentous. Weeks leading up to The Day were felt, it was in the air, these fumes of freedom, and each student’s excitement would rise accordingly as The Day drew nearer. We were intoxicated by the expectations and possibilities Summer allowed; cleaning out our desks and classrooms were chores we assumed happily, for they were symptoms of a grander reward. With age I find the momentousness of such events has either a huge delay or has disappeared altogether. Last days of school at university were anti-climactic because everyone would go home at different times, often in the midst of a stressful finals atmosphere; most…

A Single Story of Soviet Russia

Posted on December 3, 2012

“I don’t know what hunger is,” said Mikhail: teacher, father, product of the Soviet Union. It was strange hearing that from him, even more so with a bright smile in his eyes and overall jovial demeanor, as if he were discussing a recent hockey victory and not a supposedly sore subject. Rather, as an American it was strange hearing that. I think of the USSR, and I think of tanks, grayness, secrecy, scary and impenetrable Cyrillic lettering, looming misery, and long bread lines in inclement weather; the depressing and immoral yield of a communist machine; the enemy of capitalism and, consequently, freedom. So how could Mikhail even utter the words: “I was a teenager. I didn’t have problems”? Of course you had problems! The…