I bumped into an old classmate last week and was surprised to see she was pregnant again although she is already a mother of two girls. She told me her husband now wanted to have a boy.
She is not alone. Many people in rural areas still prefer boys to girls and keep trying to have a male baby no matter how many girls they already have. A recent survey by the Ministry of Health revealed that nearly 90,000 babies were born in Viet Nam in the first month of this year. The proportion of boys to girls was 111.9 to 100. The male sex ratio was even higher in the countryside.
The ratio in Dong Anh District was an extraordinary 156 boys to 100 girls and in Phu Xuyen District it was 150 boys to 100 girls. Experts are now warning that about 4.3 million Vietnamese men will not be able to find a wife in the next 20 years because of the resulting shortage of girls.
So what should Vietnamese men do? I doubt that many Vietnamese men will go looking for a wife in neighbouring countries such as China, Laos or Cambodia. Others may be forced to follow the old tradition and join a Buddhist monastery.
But one of my cheeky friends has another solution. Just as men in the past were allowed one or two wives and as many concubines as they could afford, maybe Vietnamese women in the 21st century will be allowed to have one or two husbands – and a couple of boyfriends. Maybe!
True love still exists
A young man in central Nghe An Province last month decided to bring his bride home on a buffalo cart used for agricultural production. No luxurious cars and no famous singers like a recent million dollar wedding in Ha Noi.
The no-frills event drew huge crowds who shouted out with joy and excitement as the couple passed. The four-legged transport was a big hit not only because it was inexpensive, but because it reflected the simple, honest lives lived by rural folk.
The couple decided to tie the knot after two years of dating. The groom said although they had enough money to hire a car decorated with flowers, they wanted something much more memorable – one of the ox carts that their village had used since they were kids.
The bride was moved to tears as the groom lifted her onto the cart. Everyone was so moved that other young couples are now reported to be planning similar weddings.
True love still exists – and it has little to do with luxury and squandering money.
More inspectors needed!
Ha Noi is among the most polluted cities in South East Asia, according to experts at a recent conference on air quality and urban traffic.
And it's likely to stay this way for some years. A recent proposal by the transport ministry to charge annual road fees on every vehicle might have cleared some of the traffic off the road, but the proposal has been scrapped – for the time being.
This means that public transport, particularly buses, seem the only way out for Hanoians.
However, there are a couple of problems. One of them is that many of the old buses are so old that they sail along the roads in a cloud of black smoke.
Then there is the real problem of some bus drivers and their assistants assaulting passengers. The latest case happened last Wednesday when a passenger aboard a bus en route from Yen Nghia bus station in Ha Dong District to Nam Thang Long bus station in Tu Liem District was attacked by a bus driver and his assistant after the passenger complained about the service.
And not to forget pickpockets. Bus stations and buses themselves are prime hunting places for these thieves.
So, it seems the only hope of some immediate relief from the endless traffic smoke and dust are the buses, which themselves need a bit of a clean-up - and some staff training. Surely we are not going to get the old answer: "Yes we would like to clean up the buses, but we do not have enough inspectors at present." — VNS