The streets of Hanoi

War victim, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2008

This is one of the tougher pictures to digest from our recent South-East-Asia trip. Normally I ask people before I take a photograph of them. That can be by actually talking to them if possible, or just by gesticulation, pointing at the camera and smiling with a question mark in my face.

In this situation here thought — Steffi and I were waiting for a bus in one of the busier areas of the Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Ho Chi Minh City or just Saigon — I didn’t work up the courage to ask the man. And I still feel ashamed for not having done that. Sure, I shouldn’t be showing this picutre, but I have other motives for doing that.

I would like to share my disgust for the atrocities of war. Although I don’t know the story behind this sorry soul, I’m certain it is one of utmost pain, be it physical, emotional or social. The problem with war and trying to achieve usually unachievable objectives (when people shouldn’t have gotten involved in the first place) is that the war is not over when it’s over. Deep rifts in the population remain, the catastrophic psychological damage carries over and affects many generations, and apart from unexploded ordinance or mines that bear lethal surprises for many years to come, there was Agent Orange

There, in that street, sitting on the steps of a travel agent, waiting for the bus, was just one of those moments (and there were several on that trip) where you just froze and where a terrible, bottomless sadness hit you. Add a good dose of anger to that, and hope that you’ll never meet the people responsible for all those countless tragedies.

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