Hanoi (June 1, 2017)
It’s summer again and people can’t stop talking about it. Everyone is shocked that it is hot, in June, in the tropics.
But it actually is pretty bad. Hoo boy. The air is sulfurous and you always feel like you’ve been dipped in oil. One degree hotter and the concrete will bubble into magma and suck us all down into hell.
I’m on the bike going to work. It’s 5:00 which means the city has jammed to a shuddering halt. Traffic has become a game of land warfare as everyone battles for each inch. But I like the gridlock. It means no one can work up the velocity to do something stupid. People here generally drive like an F-16 is chasing them.
Right this very second in Hanoi there are 5 million motorbike engines running. We’re all baking in our own fumes. Since I got here I’ve inhaled enough pollutants to fill a hot air balloon. My blood now glows neon green. The carcinogens have melted down my DNA strands into malignant genetic code and my children will wander the Earth with Orc-like deformities, one eye set three inches higher than the other. The karmic revenge for Agent Orange.
Up ahead there is a work crew ripping up the concrete. They’ve been out here all day. And there’s a woman in a rice hat pushing a trash cart. People in chilly cars blast their horns at her because she’s on the road. As if there is anywhere she could go. As if she’s out here blocking the lane just for fun. Someone honks at her again.
Inside a car there’s no heat or smog. In Vietnam you don’t have a car unless you’re rich. If you have a car then you might as well be Jay-Z. You are exempt from reality. The woman with the trash keeps shuffling and panting. Someone honks again. I fantasize about blowing up their car with an RPG. They should take the horns out of luxury cars. You shouldn’t get to have money and also be loud about it.
The heat is breathtaking. Vietnam is in the crosshairs of a flamethrower held in the hands of a demon. The heat is proof there is no God. You’re stuck on this prison planet, better hope you picked the right parents. Then the light’s green and a few minutes later I’m in the office under the AC thinking Finally, like I deserve it.