Hmm

When I went to Manila, a dear friend had introduced me to one of his colleagues who is working as an expat in Manila. She went to Germany as  Vietnamese refugee in the late 70’s and have very traumatic stories to tell.

My work was really hectic and around the 3rd week of my stay there, I found that I was going to be homeless at the end of the month. My landlord didn’t understand my Canadian/Australian/Indian accent and assumed that I only needed the place for a month and rented it out to someone else. I was working from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. most days and didn’t have time to go and look for a new place. My friend’s colleague was on her way to the airport (going back to Germany for a short visit) when she called me to say bye and  I told her that I will be homeless soon. The next thing I know is that the security guard at work calls me to say that someone had come to drop off a set of keys. She had actually sent her house key through the driver. She has never seem me before and only knew me through a friend. She lives in a penthouse in the most expensive condo in Manila with 360 degree view of the city.

Things like this always affect me more than you can ever imagine.

When Yaya was stuck in London and needed a place to stay, I didn’t even think of contacting my own family. Apparently my sister lives somewhere in England. (I have no idea where and am not keen to find out) I would never call my sister and ask for help, for I will have to hear the rest of my life how they dropped everything to help my child.

I know for a fact that they wouldn’t send their driver to my office to give me their house key, so I will have a place to stay if I ever found myself to be homeless. They would have first accused me of not doing things properly, like making sure that my landlord understood my terms.. or leaving work early and look for a place..(which in my case was not possible as my work involved managing Hazard risks..and Typhoon Lawin had just made landfall)

It is amazing that strangers help with love unconditionally  and we sisters thrive on hatred. Where did we go so wrong?

Home

I never realized how stressed I really was till I got back home.

On the day I arrived, my youngest came back early from the school, cleaned the house and decorated the living room with balloons and welcome home banner. She baked me Strawberry shortcake. My son had exams, but the night before, he cooked rice, potato mezhukkuperatti, avial, dhal and moru.. for me.

I had my first proper Indian meal, just the way I like(spicy) and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

I took Kirra out for a walk.

Then I lay down on the bed and didn’t get up for couple of days. I guess I was emotionally spent.

It takes tremendous courage to leave a 16 and 14 years old alone at home for two whole months. So many things could have gone wrong.

It didn’t and I am grateful.

My son left for Peru ( student exchange) yesterday. He bought all the things he needed to take with him, packed his own bag..

House is very quiet with just me and baby.

I am now seriously considering what I will do in three years time when my youngest leave home. One of the reasons I was willing to work long hours while I was in Manila was that I didn’t want to go back to my empty apartment and be enveloped in silence. I missed my children’s laughter the most and I hated going back to the apartment in the night after work. I must seriously consider my next move.

Almost

This time next week I will be home.

And that is such a nice thought.

But the problem is that I don’t want to stay another second here.. The thought of another few more days is killing me

 

brooding

‘I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person” Oscar Wilde

I like my company, I like being alone and I never really needed someone in my life  to be happy..

But right now, all I think of is going back home. I have started to count down the days..hours…

I just want to go back to my life.. my early morning walks. and hear my children’s laughter..

I miss my home.

Book and the cover

We were classmates in Australia.

We avoided each other like plague. He thought I was an itch with a B and I thought he was an arrogant B#*tard. We were meant to do a project together and I told the Prof that if I would rather drop the subject and face academic penalty than do a project with this guy.

He and I both won the Summer research scholarship at the Uni and we still refused to talk to each other. Supervisor in charge of the Scholarship knew that both of us  were heading to Manila and tried to make us contact each other. We ignored the introduction email from the supervisor and refused to write to each other.

Imagine my shock.. walking in to my dept on my first day at work and find him sitting next to my desk. We looked at each other and shook our heads. It turned out that we were also living in the same apt complex.

Few days after I arrived someone organized a trip to a burger place and he came to me and told me that he checked the restaurant website and that the place do serve vegetarian food. (He remembered from one of the classes we attended together, I had requested for vegetarian food)

Every Tuesday, we attempted to kill each other because we had to make a power point presentation and he and I couldn’t agree on anything. And in the evening we  walked back home together.. silently seething.. and it would last few days..

Park across my apt has live music sessions every weekend and we had to agree to temporary truce, so we could go and listen to music. and back to murder spree on Tuesday.

He made sure, if I had to work late, there was food for me, or when I had to go to country office that I had a ride back home.. He even came to the Gurdwara with me to eat food.

He went back home yesterday.

This morning I had to write a SitRep and after I wrote it and I almost sent it to him for review.. although I would never agree to any of his critical judgment of my report and argue till the cows came home why I am right and he was wrong, I kind of missed the fact that he wasn’t around. There was a sense of surety that my work was up to a certain standard after he had reviewed it.

It isn’t very often that my initial judgment was proven wrong.

But this one was wrong. He wasn’t an arrogant person I thought he was. Perhaps, I should remember “never to judge a book by the cover”

 

 

 

 

 

Trust and Control

I like long distance driving as it lets me listen to music and think, and think I did.

I was trying to figure out why is that I can leave two teenagers at home on their own and why my mother couldn’t.

I think I finally found the answer.

It has to do with two things. Trust and control

Amma felt the only way she could trust me was to control everything about my life. She planned, formulated and controlled every single thing in my life. be it what I ate, wore or who I talked to.

Where as I don’t control my children’s life. I accept them as individuals and trust them. I trust that I raised them well and taught them what is right/wrong.

I have a fully stocked liquor cabinet at home. Both baby and my son have a credit card with a pretty decent credit limit. There is no one to check what they are doing.. they could host as many parties as they want to, drink all the alcohol and spend all the money.

They don’t.

Because we trust each other. They trust me to be a good mother  and I trust them to be good kids. and all is well.

How to get yourself killed: A quick guide

So, I decided to drive from Manila to Hundred Islands. Google map said it is only 245 km from here. What no one told me is that, there are no signboards anywhere to direct you and most of the roads are single lanes teeming with reckless bike riders, bike taxies with sidecars and  jeepneys that stop wherever and whenever they want in the middle of the road.

I started out at 6:30 a,m. and by 9 a.m. I had only done 80 km. I was getting tired of the constant breaking and not being able to pick up the speed. There was a bus in front of me and I hate following a larger vehicle as I can’t see the road ahead and have to rely on the bus driver’s instinct for me to evaluate the hazards ahead. So, I decided to overtake him.

Time and again, I told my children about why they should never overtake from the wrong side. I noticed there was a little shoulder on the right side and throwing all cautions to the wind, I decided to overtake the bus from the right side, just about the same time, the bus driver decided to turn to the right and stop to let the passengers disembark. I was already accelerating to overtake and when I stepped on the brake, I thought this was it..my life was going to be over… I swear I have a guardian angel. There was probably a cm between my car and the bus when the car stopped after I braked.

Of all the things I have ever done, this would top the list as the most stupidest. I am 45 years old for crying out loud!

 

Exploring

I rented a car and I have two days off. I went to the books shop to buy a travel guide. They have none. I didn’t bother looking for a map as I can’t read a map.

I have no idea where I am going or what I am planning to do.

I know I am crazy.. but even I can’t believe I am this crazy

So, off I go

 

See you all Monday

 

Foreigners

I used to find it really amusing to watch the tourists jumping up and down when they see a rat scurrying around the drains when I was living in  M’sia.. or their  paranoia to eat the street food..

I used to eat pani puri from the street vendors in Bangalore when I was studying Medicine (knowing all the potential risk and regularly falling sick) I never thought twice about eating hawker food in M’sia.

I came to Manila thinking it would be like M’sia. Somehow food was the least of my worries as I really am not a fuzzy eater. Yet, it is food that I struggle the most with. My work is very hectic and I really have no time to cook. I don’t even have salt at the apartment where I stay.

First of all, I don’t understand the Tagalog names for food. Nothing makes any sense to me. Until now, even in Australia/Canada I can order my food in Chinese in a Chinese restaurant.. even that is not an option here because the food I am used to is different here.. And all vegetable dishes have shrimp in it, being vegetarian with a severed seafood allergy, my options are very limited..

I made an arrangement with  chef at the cafeteria to  cook dinner for me. Yesterday, he cooked two spring rolls and served it with rice. No gravy.. nothing.. I was so hungry, but I just couldn’t eat plain rice.. so I went out to look for something to eat… there were plenty of road side stalls.. and rats were scurrying around and I morphed in to a typical tourist.. the type I laughed at..

I ate plain rice in the end.. and thought of all the times I tossed food out if it was more than two days old at home and wished if I had some of that..