Ngan and I went to play badminton this afternoon. Since the beginning of this month, I’ve had to reduce the number of hours I play due to an increased teaching load in the evening, but I still try to play at least three days per week, a couple hours each day. However, when we arrived at the court this afternoon, we noticed that something was different.

There were people crowded around the door to the building and music blasting from inside. It was a rehearsal for a performance to celebrate the founding of the youth union. Vietnam is really into celebrating anniversaries of the founding of numerous governmental organs, such as the police, the fire department, the army and of course, the youth union.

However, this rehearsal was in the spot where numerous people come to play badminton every day. And the noise levels were incredible. And the singing, of course, was horrendously bad and off-key. And of course there were many times when the wireless microphones exploded with feedback that shrieked through the building.

The songs were long and drawn out, the singing was consistently out of tune, and it was just generally very annoying. And this farce of a rehearsal occupied two of the five badminton courts, so everyone was crowded into three courts and I could only play four sets in two hours.

This whole thing got me thinking about sound men in Vietnam. Their hearing seems to be damaged; this being the reason why they crank up the volume so loud. However, attending so many of these usually ridiculous events seems like it will leave the next generation with damaged hearing as well, and the vicious cycle will continue.

Besides the overwhelming noise level, these men and women who looked to be in their late twenties were running around and wearing their blue shirts of the youth union. They simply looked silly and childish, especially due to the fact that they can’t carry a tune in a basket.

Which brings me to another point: a large number of the Vietnamese people that I know cannot sing in tune. This is weird coming from a country where the language is tonal and where karaoke is a very popular form of entertainment. Thinking back to most of my friends and family stateside, I can only name one person who really cannot carry a tune. Is this only my situation? Or are there also an inordinate amount of tone-deaf singers in the states?

There are some very good singers that I’ve heard in performances as well as in karaoke rooms in Vietnam, which is why I don’t understand why the tone-deaf awful singers are selected to perform in government run ceremonies. Not to mention, these tone-deaf singers also really annoyed me at badminton today.


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