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Published: September 13th 2016
It's the 15th again...of the lunar calendar...full moon, start eating dog, time for a haircut, many vegetarian meals, special prayers and offerings, incense all along the beach...wtf...It's a special day. The 15th of the 7th month is a special day for praying to/for mothers, grandmothers etc...and the month of the lost souls (I feel quite at home) so be very careful....in the pagodas, wear a white rose if your mother is still kicking, red rose if she has moved on.
And there's no word for blue....you can say "green like the sky" for instance....the frogs introduced so many words, why not Bleu?
Every morning there are lots of tourists taking extravagantly posed crack-of-dawn pix....the holding out of hands, open mouth etc....and most of them have the photographer standing still and directing the subjects so they line up with the sun....wouldn't it be easier for the camera to move?......Yes!...but a concept too far.
I wish I could have that rare gift that enables some people to visit VN for only a few weeks and they seem to understand everything ....amazing....after 6 years I'm still finding out stuff, and it adds to the confusion...many strange things going on.....and an increasing number of people pissed off with the government but when I look around the world I see this is everywhere and in fact, the system of governance and the government here are not too bad comparatively.........as I explain to my students how things are in other countries...think Oz, UK, US....their desire to get out of VN sort of winds back a few notches.
Family is fundamental to life in VN being both great and shitful at the same time. I love watching the families around me, many of them are related, they expand into adjacent houses as they grow and there's a bewildering crisscrossing of human traffic between houses, I'm not sure just who belongs to whom. Grandparents play probably the major role in kids upbringing, wonderful, the extended family thing is so supportive....most of the time! My friend Tram is 35, which is regarded as pretty well over-the-hill, if she's not married by 38 or 39 she will definitely be out of the marital stakes...it will be over!..... and her father is growing increasingly threatening wrt her single status. Many of her friends are married and all of them are miserable, something happens after the wedding as formerly polite, kind, generous, caring young men become alcohol fuelled domestically violent cheaters.....what just happened?.......but when Tram points this out to her father it cuts no mustard, he is totally worried by what the neighbours will say....and they do...constantly harassing Tram and pissing in her father's pocket about how tragic that his daughter isn't married....omg! ...he has now threatened to kick her out of the house if she doesn't find someone, anyone, and get married (and pregnant of course) quick smart. And it's happening all over. One of the downsides of strong families!
Traffic has it's own quiet way of getting into your psyche. What once would have me either freaking out or getting extremely angry, now just passes like water under the bridges......entering the main road?....just pull out into the traffic....look left?...huh?...whatever for?......occasional scratches, bits of faring and bloodstains at many intersections just doesn't seem to register....there's an overwhelming belief in it-won't-happen-to-me.....and such looks of shock and disbelief when they get hammered.
The cops are always about and they say drink driving/riding will be the next crackdown....now tell me again how that could ever happen!!....I was pedalling towards the Dragon Bridge yesterday and the cops had pulled over a 14 seater bus....as I drew level I saw a totally frocked up bride sitting on the footpath, head in hands, howling.....the group of acolytes arguing with the cops, full futility, like footy players arguing with umpires...why would you?
And it's so safe here, I realised this when I came back from Malaysia last month, the fear was pa.....I nearly said palatable, must be lunch time...palpable and I didn't notice until I got out of the airport at Da Nang how relaxed I felt.
There's another thing here I like, for all the inequality....and doesn't everywhere have this problem now?....there's a great sense of equality, even the poorest people feel no intimidation or trepidation in talking with the richest....sometimes to the chagrin of the richest, but there's never a sense of class, everyone really is equal in that sense......Cat can look at the king!
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