The cycle of life: peace, war, peace, war, peace…
A motorcycle is the best way to get around Ho Chi Minh City’s buzzing streets. My father and I experienced this for ourselves, courtesy of Bao Anh, Vietnam veteran Bernie Duff’s girlfriend and partner in humanitarian work. Hurtling through the crowds, ankle to ankle with other riders, dodging the random pedestrians, bicyclists, taxis and trucks crossing our traffic signal-less paths … was an exhilarating experience. Somehow, we didn’t see a single crash; all the drivers seem to know just what the other motorists are going to do, though we rarely saw anyone checking a mirror or even wearing a helmet.
It’s like swimming with the sharks – on the back of a shark. Then again, maybe it’s what tourists think when they see Grand Central Terminal during rush hour.
Short-term adrenaline rush aside, it surely amazed my father’s 24-year-old ghost to see him, 40 years later, grinning his head off on the back of a motorcycle expertly steered by the daughter of a North Vietnamese military officer!
Another interesting aspect of this ride, however, is that it also brought one of his Greek Civil War stories full circle:
“When I was about five years old, I spent the summer at the mineral spas in Kaiafa, where my mother used to work as a maid. A local policeman would come around every day on his bicycle, and put me on the front and give me a ride around the hotels. It was a special treat.
One day, he didn’t show up. After a few days, I asked why. They told me he had been killed by Communist guerrillas.”
My father doesn’t remember this policeman’s name, but says he’ll never forget how much fun those bicycle rides were … almost as much fun as riding on Bao Anh’s motorcycle.