The Book of Red

Relationships, discovery and the chance encounter in Hanoi

Let me set this up.

We are in Hanoi. It is approaching evening. A streetside table, with red carnations and a small book on a round table. It’s the Book of Red. I’m about to share it with someone in my online community, S P A C E, and I don’t know who else will appear, from out of the internet. After all, I have sent invitations to people I do not really know, and invited the internet at large, in a way, through the posting of the event on Eventbrite, a ticketing place for me to share about what Im doing and wonder if someone new will walk into our semi-public space to explore and experience what it is I like to do in these miniature conversation parties, which are more like salons, than ‘meet ups.’ In a short while I will see TN, and it will go from there, into long conversations that meander, go deep, and even take walks around lakes that are not far. This is the thing, about these kinds of moments. They go where they go, as and how and without agenda. I’m keen to catch up with her, and we’ve both committed time and shown up, to make space.

These small-scale ‘installations’ are more like art shows, for me, than ‘events,’ even though I put them on Eventbrite. Why? Because it gets us all there, in real life, and talking, and talking about things that mean something, and not just the smalltalk bollix that superficial gatherings these days have felt like for me, when the internet invitations come through. I stopped going out and meeting people because it was so dull. But then I started making up my own small-scale events, designed to optimize for the chance encounters and whatever magic we might make if we just show up, together, and juxtapose ourselves into the short-term ‘box’ of time and place. It’s not like usual things.

‘You should film this! You should record this! You should show people what it’s like!’ says an online marketing friend, SJ, whom I will meet in Hanoi but in another instance, at yet another event.

‘What are they like?’


‘Wow. I have to google that… [Time]… That’s a good word!’


‘Well, these things are what they are because they are intimate and not recorded. They are about us, being here. They are not to be shared in any other way because that would mess up the space. Change it. Being observed, that changes you. Know what I mean?’




S P A C E | Hanoi, ‘Nostalgia Ca Phe’