Postcard Series #1: Manila To London

He’s on his celphone behind me.

“Oo nga, anong show pinapanood mo? Anong palabas?  Ahh, eh kumain ka na? Ano? Madami ba? Nako, ba’t naparami? Nanay mo nasaan? Yung nanay mo, nasaan? Ahh, ganun? Ano pa ginagawa mo?”

With nothing much to do, eavesdropping is the impolite habit I’m wont to do while at the airport. And this particular one is fascinating to me. I’m not used to conversations like this that dwell on the mundane. In my own family’s daily conversation, we skip the niceties and get straight down to talking about global trends, leadership principles, Sunday service sermons.

So this phone call was inaccessible to me. I realize of course that it might be my family that’s the odd one out and this the typical Filipino family talks. But to me, his tone was forcing a naturalness that would’ve probably been his if he could afford to stay home. Instead, he’s an OFW leaving for yet another 3 years. Perhaps this is how conversations go when you are struggling from across continents to keep a hold on the everyday that is missed each hour that you are far apart. When the answer and the questions that provoke them are less important than hearing the voices that connect them to home.

Traveling is never easy for me, especially when I travel alone. But after I decide to take the plunge, put my game face on and go for the ride – I do usually manage to experience the most interesting things even just after barely two days.

Like sitting in between a cramped giant man-boy on the plane who manages to survive without ever getting up to unfold himself or to go to the washroom for 13 hours (13 hours!) and an OFW who doesn’t talk to me until the last four hours of the plane ride because he took me for a Korean and doubted his English skills to carry on a conversation with me but makes up for lost time by self-appointing himself to be my instant boyfriend yet decides to break up with me again after getting off the plane. “Chatmate na lang tayo sa FB, ha!”

Then there’s wearily lugging myself and my 17-kilo luggage around Paddington station in London at past ten o’clock in the evening to look for my hotel by foot only to be informed that a mysterious caller cancelled my reservation with them just that afternoon and I am basically homeless for the night. But there’s the silver lining in remembering that friendly concierge who helped me earlier to find my way. So tracing my way back to him, I found myself at his feet, begging for a room. Happily there were two available and between a basement room at the bottom of steep stairs and the spanking new room that had four flights of stairs to be scaled before it could be enjoyed, which did you think I chose? Of course that 55pounds/night cheap room at the dungeon hall that was saved from looking completely seedy by that stately English scenery painting hanging on the wall.

And the adventures continue on this afternoon during my 5-hour train ride to Scotland where I was relegated to standing just outside the First Class cabin as the train had become standing room only what with all the UK airports closed and therefore everyone traveling via trains. The cold bitter wind found its way in between the creases of the creaking train that moved like a serpent beneath me and all I had to amuse me was the sight of two dapper gentlemen who suffered for the sake of fashion as they couldn’t flop on the floor like I did for fear of wrinkling their pretty suits. But amusement can’t really keep the cold out and so when I dismounted from the train, I found the nearest loveliest café I could find for a warm traditional afternoon English tea with scones while waiting for my dear friend Anne Rose whose train was delayed as a fellow decided to jump in front of their tracks and commit suicide.

Hello, Edinburgh!