Thursday, 19 July 2007
The attraction of the East. Memories of Vietnam
It is strange how thirty years after the end of the war and more than forty years after I first set foot in Vietnam that I have still not managed to analyse my motivation for going there nor why I decided to stay. Certainly any young man, or least according to my way of thinking, should be looking for adventure and beautiful exotic girls. They were the only two elements of any importance in a man's life. Money was perhaps necessary, certainly very useful, not for the security it gave, but for the freedom it bought.
I now live in France and when I hear that the major preoccupation of the under twenty fives is financial security and that a majority seek work as civil servants I realize how little I have in common with today's youth.
In Vietnam I certainly found adventure. I also found exotic women. The fact that when I went there I was very well paid was a bonus, but it had never been my motivation. The war against the communists had nothing to do with it either. I certainly had no love for them, but I've always been far more motivated against the socialists. They were a danger to everything I believed in but one wasn't allowed to fight them. Although as I get older I become more and more conservative in taste I've never been a supporter of right wing politics. Frankly I have always been far to independent to believe in subjecting myself to any political party dogma.
In fact my time in Vietnam left me with an utter loathing of all politicians represented. I've never been fond of generals either. My feelings could be said to be against the political military establishment as well.
Being with a small team of compatriots, in a small military camp, but not subject to their discipline, the freedom to live off camp, the main office miles away, the head office the other side of the world suited me fine.