Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mystic Manila

Following our Cambodia trip, we headed to Manila for a few days, imposing ourselves on SH and AD’s friendly hospitality. Now, I had been to their Wadala apartment a few times while they were in Mumbai, usually a bunch of 5-7 people, usually drunk and usually trying to squeeze ourselves on the bed, the couch and the sofas, trying to make room in between all the beer, whisky and rum bottles, the pizza boxes and the laptops: yes, the good old days, when affordable housing in Mumbai meant a 1 bhk in some godforsaken area, usually in the East (apparently, in Mumbai, the West is the place to be. A Mumbaiite would always emphasize that he lives in Nahur WEST, though I don’t know how it’s more aspirational than Nahur East, but hey, what do I know? I live in Powai, which is universally sad, irrespective of the direction). Anyway, I digress…

So, from the 1 bhk in Wadala, they have now moved to a palatial apartment in Serendra, right in the middle of BGC in Manila, or in Mumbai terms, it’s the equivalent of a luxurious place in Bandra, minus the crowd, the filmstars and the hawkers. We admired the sprawling lawns, the greenery, the pool and took full advantage of its location: you step out of the building in the morning and you find yourself right in the middle of High Street with all its malls, showrooms and department stores. So while anon went berserk, splurging on Aldo shoes and wallets and Mango shirts and shorts, I was my cheapest best, settling for a Philippino-style short haircut, all for three hundred bucks! I must admit, it does look cute…

In the evening again, we would step out in our high heels, walk down the street and find ourselves in the middle of the most happening pubs, not worrying about parking the car, driving drunk or twisting our ankles. Add to that the cheap alcohol, the yummy food (I tried all sorts of food, which sounded funny, tasted different and covered the entire range of animal species) and the pleasant rains, it was the perfect holiday with the perfect set of people. Obviously, I continued to be my aggressive worst when it came to board games and card games, only to finish on the losing side, be it Scrabble, Trump or even Ludo: I KNOW I am the best, just that I get carried away and push my luck too hard!

We drove down to the Tagaytay Province, barely 60 Kms from Manila for a picturesque view of the Taal Volcano, which is the second most active volcano in the Philippines. As I enjoyed the Katsudon, staring out at the Volcano, I couldn’t help wondering if Bombay was gradually reducing me to a minion who was just too tired or too busy to really appreciate the things that do matter.

We also took a walking tour of the old town of Intramuros conducted by Carlos Celdran: an articulate but controversial entertainer with a razor sharp wit, who was jailed for his provocative and politically incorrect jokes on nearly anything and everything. As he walked us through Fort Santiago to the Plaza San Luis, touching upon the history, the architecture and culture of Manila through the Pre-Hispanic era, the American rule and finally the Japanese massacre during World War II. From the little exposure I had to the country, I realized that Philippines was a potpourri of different cultures, almost too many of them, resulting in “genetic denial” as aptly quoted by Carlos. At the end of the day, they were “a bunch of people with Chinese eyes, who spoke Spanish but wanted to be Americans”. So if you ask a Philippino if he has been to the USA, his answer is either “Yes” or “Not Yet”!

But of course, Manila for me was more about spending time with SH and anon, reliving our 213 days and going back a few years. While a lot has changed since then, some things have remained the same: both of them are as annoying as ever, though I have become more matured, more patient and almost a grown up.

Till it was time to leave, till I boarded the cab, till I cried

8 comments:

Smita said...

But where are the photos my dear?

SH said...

Lovely entertaining read till your last sentence!

I realized we have never spent time like this except in Goa yrs back! This should be a yearly affair :) My order

Nefertiti said...

@smita
for some reason I cannot upload any pictures on blogger :( Does it have any account limit? Anyway i have shared a few pics on FB and since you are on my list you can see those...

@SH
Well, anon and I did go to Goa (again) and Coorg without you. SO may be it's by design that we avoid you. (evil smile)
And no, you no longer get to order me now that we aren't roomies anymore or even in the same country

Neil said...

Ok. So maybe this was one of your better posts. Definitely. Maybe.

Nefertiti said...

@neil
was that a compliment for did I not read it right!!!

Neil said...

Questions questions and questions!

SH said...

The one with the cute haircut and a mean sense of humor!! Grrr (Showing fangs)

Nefertiti said...

@SH
please spell humour with a U. I don't like the American influence on you in Manila.