#30DayWritingChallenge: A trip I can’t forget. (Mumbai)

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.

The local beer in India, Kingfisher, comes in huge-ass 650 mL bottles. Single serving.

A photo posted by Jade Tamboon (@antifornicator) on

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.

#30DayWritingChallenge: A friend.

Day Twelve: A friend.

Some of the fondest memories I have of Mumbai were of going out of the office at two in the morning to get a small cup of chai from a street vendor from across the street. Harry was pleased to learn that the Filipino trainer sent to their team liked tea.

And beer. Indians and Filipinos would get along fine as long as there is beer. It helps that the local beer in Mumbai is good and that we have similar habits when it comes to drinking: Drinking is best shared with friends. Drinking is a time to unwind and bond. Food and beer go well together.

Tea breaks and after-work drinking were times for talking about things outside work. And Harry has a lot of stories to share. Life while growing up. Family and children. Music listened to. Fishing. Many of the things I learned about India, I learned from Harry.

Harry Singh

Harry left Sitel on the day I left Mumbai to return to Manila. Like him, I was also about to leave Sitel a few weeks after that training. We were both old timers among the outsourced employees of our account, lasting longer than many of the in-house employees, and many of the managers were reluctant to see us go.

It wasn’t strange that we got along quite well. But it was lucky that I met and worked with him when I did.

Beer under moonlight.

The entire conversation was obviously a way of stalling before sex.

We only knew each other through a few online conversations: greetings, perfunctory small talk, and mild flirting. We really didn’t know each other until we met in person.

“Kwento ka naman,” he told me as we started our beer.

“What do you want to know?” I asked him. “Magtanong ka.”

“You’re the host. You should be the one entertaining your guest.”

We are trying to out-smartass the other, in between sharing where we’ve been within the country and outside. He is, not surprisingly, more well-travelled than me.

He disliked my hair when I removed my bun.

“Bakit ka nagpapahaba ng buhok; hindi naman sa’yo bagay.”

I laughed it off. I was in a good mood. Otherwise, I would’ve told him to go home after we finished our beer.

We carefully avoided identifying where we work. The first time I asked him what his job was, he answered that he’s a janitor.

Eventually we felt comfortable enough to share more personal information. Or he did. Despite his insistence that I tell him about myself, he let me ask him about himself.

He had a wife. He has two kids with different moms. He first tried sleeping with men after he and his wife separated. He never had a boyfriend. He’s not yet ready for another relationship, but he’s open to settling with a guy if the guy was compatible with him.

No, I won’t be dating this guy. He’s brash, a little arrogant, a little too macho. But he also’s a bit of a softy inside. Not my type for a boyfriend. Until the end, he waited that I make the first move.

He kissed well and was not self-conscious about it. Oh well. I’ll forget his snide remarks.

Ghosts and spirits.

While drinking with friends last night, we were talking about ghosts. Not just ghost stories, but ghosts in the apartment and neighborhood.

One friend, Greg, claimed he can feel spirits. So did Acee. I told them that I always get the feeling of unseen presence in the apartment. I frequently catch shapes at my peripheral vision, but rationalize them as mundane objects. However, I rarely experience these, and it was abnormally frequent after moving to Pasig.

Both Greg and Acee said there is a presence frequently in the balcony which sometimes crosses the stairs to the bathroom. At least it seems benign.

Acee recalled various incidents from their old apartment: People outside seeing strangers at their balcony. Neighbors hearing strange arguing noises downstairs even if no one was home. The worst was what Acee’s ex saw through the video chat screen after Acee stepped out to go to the toilet: an unknown man physically assaulting a woman at the apartment’s hallway.

“He looked really pale when I got back,” she recalled, as her ex told her what happened.

A little further from our apartment, at the village playground and basketball court, Greg said there were three women. Unlike in our apartment, they have a heavier, more malignant presence. Erik, who used to live next to that playground, admitted that the malignant atmosphere was one reason they moved out. His housemates frequently experience waking from similar nightmares at the same time. That area often gives me goosebumps when I cross it, even during daytime.

“It’s nice that we’re scaring ourselves of these stories while in this house,” commented Greg after another story.

“But it’s All Saints Day!” I replied. “Isn’t it appropriate?” Even better, it was already past midnight at that point, so we actually are remembering All Souls Day.