Today in random Americana:
The city where the office I report to is located is a nice, laid-back Arizona city, Gilbert. The place is clean, the people friendly, and the area looks as harmless as a sleeping puppy. Except for the hotel right across the street.
After the department director spoke to the training class, there was a mild distraction when one of the employees excitedly mentioned that there was a shout-out at the hotel.
“Now you know why we didn’t put you there,” the trainer told my colleague and me. Apparently, that hotel occasionally has these violent incidents every couple of months.
“You’d see SWAT there sometimes,” another employee gleefully joined in. “The rest of the city is nice, but that place is so ghetto.”
I had a tarot reading gig recently in Canyon Woods in Tagaytay. It was for an Oktoberfest celebration and the organizers chose a carnival-like theme for this year.
We came there early and was lounging around the club house while the other performers where doing their sound check. To pass the time, I did some tarot readings for some of the organizers.
One of them, Edith, saw me after we just had our lunch. I was walking around and decided to undo my bun, letting my hair down.
“But you had short hair earlier!” she said, mildly surprised.
It’s not an uncommon reaction. Tied neatly, I can keep my hair in a small man bun, typically tied behind my head. It also isn’t too obvious how curly my hair actually is.
Untied, my hair expands and occupies more volume, like a time-lapsed explosion. Even now, it looks like a Jewfro when I let it down.
When I was applying for a visa for India a few months back, the woman who handled my application asked me if I had a more recent photo; I told her the photo I submitted was taken just a week earlier.
My photo looked as if I had closely cropped hair because my bun isn’t visible. She saw I had one in real life because I tied the bun higher than usual on that day. So I untied my hair and made a bun lower, hidden behind my head, to prove that it was a recent photo.
I find it amusing how tying or untying my hair is enough to drastically alter my appearance. It makes me feel like I could turn myself into some kind of super-spy.
Day Twenty-Eight: A trip I can’t forget. (Baguio)
We didn’t have a fixed itenerary. The plan was to go there, visit some touristy places, and eat. Going to Baguio has become, for me, like going to a friend’s house — a friend who lives six hours away by bus.
I can’t remember exactly why I invited Rodj. I think it was because he was a bit depressed that time and I wanted to cheer him up; I was also itching to get out of Manila and wanted to have just one travel companion. Or maybe because I was already into him at that time. So I invited him to Baguio. It was our first out-of-town trip together.
We stayed at the Baguio Village Inn, a quaint old place made mostly from old wood. We ate at various places, some neither of us tried before. We went to a little fake cemetery in Camp John Hay, the Slaughterhouse district, and my favorite indie bookstore.
We went to the Bencab Museum; it was my first time to enter it. There was an exhibit from Gerilya, a local group of street artists, ongoing at that time and we enjoyed how the group poked fun at the Cordillera tourist culture.
I visited the museum again, several months later, with other friends.
Day Twenty-Eight: A trip I can’t forget. (Mumbai)
The only weekend I had when I briefly stayed in Mumbai was nearly ruined when I went drinking on Saturday morning after shift.
There is a good local beer in India called Kingfisher. It comes in two variants: white and red label. Normally, I drank the lighter white label; but on that Saturday, I decided to finally give the red label a try. It was good. Kingfisher was less sweet than Filipino beer like San Miguel Pale Pilsen or Red Horse, but has a nice earthy flavor and little bitterness.
Kingfisher Red also kicked like a motherfucker.
I was hungover when I woke up that evening, causing me to cancel meeting up one of the team supervisors who invited me over to his place near the sea. That really sucked major ass: the only Saturday I spent in Mumbai and I had to sleep it off. My hangover lasted well into Sunday and I was only able to go out after noon.
It is relatively easy to move around Mumbai.
Day Seventeen: A moment that filled me with fear.
There had been a few times in my life when I was really afraid: One semester when I failed most of my subjects. Jerking awake after I fell asleep, drunk, during a jeepney from Marikina to Pasig. While waiting for my test results during an HIV scare.
One vivid memory which stands out was when I nearly crashed into a train. This was back when I was still a fanboy for a local band and became good friends with two of the band members.
They had a gig in Manila which I went to. The two guys lived in the south and they offered me to hitch a ride with them since we will be going the same way.
We were all chatty during the ride along Buendia until we approached the train tracks parallel to the South Superhighway. Except for the guitarist (who wasn’t the driver), none of us in the car drank much during the gig. But none of us did not see that a train has already started crossing the road ahead of us.
We probably would not have even when we were all quiet. It was a couple of hours past midnight and there were not many street lights along the intersection. The alarm that tells of an incoming train did not go off.
The car skidded to a halt when the driver slammed the breaks. We stopped some five meters way from the train, a really close call.
We were shocked for a minute or two while we waited for the train to pass. There was a release of held breaths and then we started laughing and talking at the same time. We just had a Final Destination prelude, how else should we react?