whale watching

Elephant and I, just chillin’

Leaning on the rail, watching the endless traffic pass.

Au Co is six lanes, a masterpiece of steady pace and vigor. Mostly motorbikes, with the odd truck or taxi interspersed.

We watch from above the street, silent, together. Whale watching.

Every intersection is all chaos, the notion of ‘lanes’ quaint. A left turn invites new and different ways to approach, every time.

But it manages to work, somehow.

There’s a sense of ‘go ahead’ here, as in

go ahead, I can wait my turn.

People generally don’t drive very quickly, which allows a pause, to make way.

A collective sense of

We’ll get there,

and if we work together we’ll get there, faster.

As whales do, moving in pods. Acquiescing.

I contrast this collective ethos with driving back home, where a sense of entitlement, of offense, of rage, is duly imprinted

It’s the car ads

But I digress

Papa, we should count.

Elephant has ideas for a game.

We have to give it some sort of proportion. So I offer

How about points for how many people are on the bike

One point for one person, two points for two, five points for three, 10 points for four


He pauses for a minute to think through the logic.

The bikes continue, unabated

Let’s do it as squares


Yeah. One for one, four points for two, nine points for three, and 12 points for four. He hesitates. No, wait! 16 points for four. And so on.

I like his scoring system. He claims one day to have seen a motorbike with seven people on it.

To me, this is the mythical white whale. A 49er. But he insists.

I’m hesitant to believe, a cynic, even.

But then I gaze down at him, all bright eyes and wonder, sparkling with a renewed sense of purpose

And recall what it was like to see the world, this incredible world, with fresh eyes

I’m hopeful that I, too, can see the world like that again.

He settles in closer, taking my hand, all tenderness, and goodness, and air. We return to our silent watch, parameters firmly set

And search, together

for our white whale

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. What a wonderful metaphor,this whale watching on dry land. A restful pause even as the traffic continues unabated below you, given the attitude of the drivers you so aptly described and contrasted with our own. A masterful Slice!

    Liked by 1 person

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