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. (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 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 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.