29 May 2010

Night Train to Hanoi

We didn’t expect to meet a man who had dined with Madonna, on the rather dodgy train ride to Hanoi, but Jane and I have a habit of running into the most interesting people on our travels.  We have regaled each other with our independent stories from past encounters and we like to believe that our particular energy helps attract such situations via the Universe.  Or as my less romantic friends will insist..it could just be called co-incidence…. :)

Devik Weiner is a lighting technician who has worked in numerous movies in Hollywood with people such as Madonna, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore!  He was travelling to Hanoi with his wife Renee and 3 Canadian girls they had met on their travels.

Intrepid_ Vietnam-20

I run into the girls on the platform in Hue and started chatting to them about their travels and North America.  Two of them have just finished law school and have been joined by their friend, a pharmacist on a well deserved break before they start their legal careers in the corporate world.

They end up in our carriage for awhile and we continue our conversation.   Then in walks Devik.  He is one of those people you would describe as a little larger than life.  He likes to drink his vodka neat and seems to be always ready for a good time.  He steps into our rather crowded carriage and the noise level rises by a few decibels!  We are certainly in for a good night…

P5261138 Devik shares a few stories from his life and distracts us from the cockroaches running around our compartment and the disgusting train.  Each train ride in Vietnam has got progressively worse and I am glad this is our last train ride. 

Devik continues his story.  Many years ago, as a young man in his twenties he had met Madonna on set.  His no nonsense manner and refusal to treat her as a star had actually ensured an interesting friendship!  She had once given him a present of a cheque so he could furnish his first house, bought in his twenties and they’ve actually gone out for sushi a few times!  Very cool.  

We hear more stories, of Bruce and Demi and many others but then he starts talking about his dad.  It was obvious to us that he was really proud of his dad when he remarked, “my dad was a freaking genius!”   

During a 50 year career as a photographer and photojournalist, his dad Leigh Wiener had photographed many American presidents from Truman to Reagan as well as many Hollywood legends.  Here are a few of the photographs he took of people such as Grace Kelly, JFK, Johnny Cash and Judy Garland.

Grace Kelly JFK

 Johnny Cash 2 Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney

He also photographed everyday people and events..

Genre 2

And of course took lots of photos of Devik, which are reproduced in a book called Here Comes Me, a photographic record of Devik growing from birth to the age of 3!

Here comes me

Check out these links for more details of the life of this extraordinary man.



It was a fun night…and we were given quite an insight into the life of a man who has been quite privileged to meet some of Hollywood’s finest. 

We talked for ages but then it was time to turn off the night and say goodnight.  We hoped we would meet again…..Devik

 “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

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