On the back of a xe om slicing through the pungent
On the back of a xe om slicing through the pungent breakfast aromas and exhaust fumes, weaving through the tsunami of other motorbikes this is the way to get rid of a hangover in Viet Nam. (Though dog and noodle soup is supposed to do the trick as well.) Im off to see the man himself, Ho Chi Minh. Hes not talking much these days but I want to see him
After having had a big night at the local bia hoi where you sit on tiny plastic chairs that spill out onto the road and drink very cheap beer poured by a big smiling mama with the cutest granddaughter in one arm and a plastic hose from the keg in the other, I had tripped back to my lodgings in Ha Nois Old Quarter to hit the sack and watch Vietnamese Idol on the telly.
Instead I saw the distraught face of a Lebanese mother pleading through the camera for peace. She was angry.
Sweating under a slow fan, I too got angry at the warmongers of the world. There are no nations anymore, just two types of people people you can have a beer (or coffee) with anywhere in the world, and warmongers.
I want to see Ho Chi Minh.
My xe om stops at the mausoleum. I tell the driver to wait. (He likes being paid to wait.) Nodding to the sombre guards in crisp white uniforms, I join a long queue of mostly Vietnamese that moves quickly and quietly through security checkpoints towards the huge concrete building that houses the embalmed hero of modern Viet Nam.
A tall tourist in an I love NY sweat shirt, camouflage shorts (I could still see him) and bum bag gets pulled aside by an unsmiling guard who points to the bum bag. Good, I think, shoot the bugger. Because the bum bag is a fashion abomination. Looks like a deformed penis sheath.
But the guard waves him back in line after checking the contents of the Calvin Klein codpiece. The Vietnamese, who overcame the American military muscle that bombed them to hell (and back), are a forgiving people.
As the bombs hail down on innocents in both Lebanon and Israel, I march slowly into a room where I stand before a reclining Uncle Ho, as hes respectfully called here. Unexpectedly from somewhere deep inside me, bubbles up a tear.
Probably just a reaction from the bia hoi excess.
No. This tear is a wordless prayer. Not to a god created by men and women out of fear or as a tool of control, but a salty salutation to the human spirit. A sharing of pain.
I havent prayed in a long time. But here in Uncle Hos mausoleum, in my own nausoleum, surrounded by a people who truly know war, an appeal to humanity rose like a cold sweat from within.
Hey Ho, may there be a revolution of people everywhere against the warmongers and may the peaceful insurgents prevail against the blasphemy of war.
For the sake of the planet and her people. Amen.