Holding a mirror to HanoiPosted: October 21, 2012
After six years in Vietnam the temptation to take photos of traffic is lessened but hasn’t completely disappeared.
Recently I tried in vain to film a school boy on his motorbike on his way to classes, desperately trying to finish his reading. He was driving incredibly slowly, his book in one hand, holding the page open in front of his face, the other on the accelerator. Every so often he’d have to juggle driving with page turning.
I wondered if he’d considered driving much faster, arriving early and reading before class instead.
Yesterday I was driving to the inlaws when I spotted this mirror being carried in front of me. I’ll admit I followed it for some way trying to get a better picture of it. Large sheets of glass are often carried by motorbikes across Hanoi. It’s hard not to imagine the range of injuries it could inflict. Gripping the pane by its side with bare hands, you’d think more fingers would be lost.
If the glass was to shatter, well it’s best not to think about it. But I can’t help it.
Of course while I’m not adverse to tutting motorbike mobile phone users – I’m hypocritically stil taking photos with mine. In Hanoi there are various levels of madness.
Answering phones is bad but it’s a lesser sin. Texting on motorbikes seems near impossible and yet it’s constant – even with a wife and kids sitting helmetlessly behind.
The last of my two small accidents on a motorbike in Hanoi was when I encountered a driver going the wrong way on one of Hanoi’s faster roads. That in itself would have been not so unusual as to cause me to crash. Neither was the fact that he’d decided to text at the same time.
What threw me was that he stopped in the middle of the road to complete the task. It was a traffic variable too far.