Of course building a new life will take time. I understand this.
But it doesn’t negate feeling the adjustment angst.
So, if adventures are inconveniences rightly considered, I might as well write down some early observations about my tropical home.
Arrival at the new NAIA Terminal 2 was free from drama.
My mother, worried about the ‘laglag-bala’ (planted bullets) scam, gifted me these new Samsonites. As I waited to collect my luggage, I saw that trollies were pushed right at the very edge of the carousel. This crowd made it rather inconvenient to collect suitcases, because there’s no room to manoeuvre. I wonder if it’s like this in other places, or do I have a bias about noticing this detail?
I overheard a passenger complain about the long walk from the airplane to customs. Ah yes, the pleasure of walking is definitely something I am going to miss, unless I decide to spend a whole day in a mall. Eight hours into the future, and I’ve touched down in Carmageddon town.
Imports include Marks & Spencers, Top Shop, Uniqlo, John Lewis, and the first Tesco. No Netflix or Amazon Prime though, so am discovering Plex and other ‘alternatives’. Turns out Olympus cameras aren’t available too. Drats, I knew I should have bought that OM-D during that Black Friday sale…
The Philippines is predominantly a texting country. I am navigating between Pre-Paid or Post-Paid, Globe versus Smart. In any case, I can’t even use my iPhone right now, because of some iTunes issue. It has taken me five frustrating Live Chat sessions with O2; customer service likely BPOs in India (an assumption based on the names of the gurus). Currently I have a spare Nokia burner, and am considering the unofficial services of Greenhills.
I can get used to the Eh-men, rather than Ah-men. However, I’m saddened at not being able to shake people’s hands when you say ‘peace be with you’. Apparently it’s a legacy from the SARS outbreak to abstain from touching other people. It feels weird to just nod. I like shaking hands as a form of greeting.
As I was trying to resolve my ‘SIM card not valid’ problem, a woman next to me, who was also having her mobile fruit fixed, interrupted to ask “Are you an Atienza?” – guessing she must have seen my surname at the registration pod, I affirm I am, and she further inquired whether I was related to a particular name, which didn’t ring a bell, but I replied with “most likely” given the size of our clan. A quick post on the family facebook group later confirmed my kinship with Camp Atienza.
While the UK government voted to bomb Syria…
The hot topic here is the presidential race, parodied into a Game of Thrones scenario. There’s also the traffic, that’s a given. It’s like how the British always talk about how bad the weather is, with the occasional jubilant celebration when it’s reasonably good.
There are no police or ambulance sirens. Seriously. On the one hand a relief, as it was constant back in The Big Smoke, but it worryingly suggests this city doesn’t have as active a police force, since officers are underpaid and understaffed. I also hear the whirring of the aircon, electric fans, and yes, roosters crowing in the mornings.
This is my present reality.
And that’s what I need to be. Present.
I have a vision, dreams, plans, people yet to meet…
but it’s about one day at a time,
as much as the impatient side of me wants a montage.
Oh, and The Beach. I must get some Flotsam & Jetsam asap.