Friday , June 21 2024

Reeves all about it: Goodnight Mr Đức

Nguyễn Quí Đức could often be found in his famed bar; Tadioto. — Photo courtesy of the bar

Alex Reeves – @afreeves23

Last week, Hà Nội said goodbye to one of its most interesting characters. Nguyễn Quí Đức was first and foremost a writer and journalist but also a creative, an entrepreneur whose visions and realities made the city a more vibrant and interesting place to live.

Reflecting on the passing of Đức, his ambition to provide quality in every aspect of his creative output, from his earliest work as a journalist to the spaces he cultivated in his later life makes me consider a broader point about Việt Nam.

I and many other Việt Nam News readers may have enjoyed their time in the artistic comfort that his bars exuded. I was never entirely sure if the art in Tadioto was a piece of his own or part of the collection he allowed us to enjoy as purveyors of his watering holes. It seemed he enjoyed us enjoying our time there just as much.

While in so many countries and their most famous places, the movers and shakers, the people who create the bars, restaurants and businesses we move within, remain hidden. Behind the curtain, they are present without ever really being present and we go on admiring them all the same.

Out of view, in the back rooms, skyscrapers or ivory towers. The well known faces in the capital or culturally iconic cities of the world aren’t often seen or felt in the way they are here. Their influence is often from behind the screens of our televisions or devices rather than in a passing hello, a few moments of conversation or a knowing nod.

In Việt Nam that feels very different. Here we see and occasionally meet the people who pull together the places we enjoy. They are active proprietors rather than silent investors, themselves becoming woven into the fabric of the artistry they weave.

Whether that is a cultural trait of Việt Nam, a moment of time in the nation’s progress or simply an observation of my own from having enjoyed the occasional company of such visionaries, it is besides the point.

Nguyễn Quí Đức was born and raised in Việt Nam but upon arriving in the United States while so many of his peers decided to pursue other more trodden paths, he chose to write. A career which saw his essays published in The New York Times, a period on Los Angeles radio and even working in London for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

He was determined to allow his mind to convey meaning through so many mediums and upon returning to Việt Nam, embraced the opportunity to become the main character in his own wonderful story while maintaining humble yet eccentric throughout.

I’m sure many journalists, creatives and observers have taken time to reflect on his work in a moment such as this and I believe I speak for all contributors to Việt Nam News when I share my respects for his life and service to his craft. May he be an inspiration to the journalists and creatives of tomorrow’s Việt Nam. — VNS

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