Odd Observations 6th Edition

In the city especially, I am amazed by how little people tend to be doing. They must have an absurd amount of leisure time. More times than I would like to admit, men idling sitting on their motorbikes with nothing else better to do ask whether I want a motorbike ride. This request and annoyance is to be expected while in the touristy locales but when I have been off wandering unknown corners of the city I still encounter it. These Vietnamese lazy as ever have learned new depths of the English language that reach as far as ‘motorbike’, ‘where you go?’, and ‘hello’ or simply ‘hey!’ like a ‘hey you!’ Some don’t even know any English; all they will do is the Asian, or at least the Vietnamese, gesture to summon someone but turning their palm downwards and curling their fingers towards them over and over. After awhile I got so sick of their constant charade, that I would either wave back at them or give them a thumbs up with the biggest smile on my face as I continued to walk away, wag my finger at them even before they have even had a chance to make their three word speech, or ignore them without a slight hesitation. At times, I contemplated renting a motorbike just so that I could sit like a total bum on the corner of a popular street where all the other motorbike taxis wait and mockingly/ironically call out to people if they want a ride.

I will give Hanoi this one; this city introduced me to the persistent pleas of street shoe shiners. Countless times I would walk on the street’s edge since motorbikes and food stalls have priority over pedestrians and get approached by these shoe shiners pointing down at my shoes and saying ‘dirty’, ‘you should get them cleaned’, ‘shoe shine’. My shoes are clearly dirty but I could careless. I began repeating the same line to them: ‘no thank you, I like them dirty/that way’. What pisses me off is when they can’t take no for an answer and lightly grab my arm as if that is what will convince I definitely am due for a shoeshine. I am sorry but in a way piss off. There are only so many ways that I can say ‘no’.

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