Friday, October 7, 2011

manila madness

Nothing makes sense in Manila. And for what ever reason, everyone seems to be ok with that. Everyone's complicit in their total disregard to the law. All sorts of laws. Legal laws. Rules of engagement. Laws of time and space.

I knew it the moment the plane landed, just a couple of days ago. We'd barely come to a stop when the springy sounds of seat-belts being hastily unbuckled could be heard throughout the cabin and people were springing out of their seats to race--where? to what purpose? The seat-belt sign still lit up. I breathe and think to myself, welcome...home.

I've come home to reconnect with family and friends, to unpack, do laundry and repack for India. "Home" right now is where I have the remainder of "my stuff," which is literally stuffed in my old room at my dad's house. Though its been 5 years since I've lived in this crazy city, I still feel its madness. I come home here regularly to visit family and friends and to plug into modern day urban living--necessary when living on a 7-kilometer island like Boracay for the last 5 years.

And while this trip is short, 6 days left now, I am buzzing with the frenetic energy of a developing city, progress amidst abject poverty, people rushing and yet maintaining a snail's pace, so completely different from America's land of plenty--even in these times of economic instability.

I try not to make judgments--I used to all the time, when comparing my two homelands. The US and the Philippines are just different. Plainly, simply different.

Part of what makes the Philippines special is its difference too. I love the heat, so humid, so sultry this rainy season. My practice yesterday morning was, for me at least, the perfect temperature, flexibility so supported by this beautiful warm air. The warmth is in the people as well. I could feel it instantly coming into the shala where I practice. In comparison, people in the US are so serious.

I love the feeling of festivity that seems so inherent in our culture. It's early October and already there are signs of Christmas. And this flagrant love, nay, obsession, for the holiday is most apparent in my own family home. As I first drove up the decor outside was in full support of the up and coming Hallow's Eve. Inside, however, it is a bizarre Christmas wonderland with garlands, holiday knick-knacks, and trees (yes, plural. I'm almost horrified to admit it, but when I arrived October 6 there were already 2 Christmas trees up, fully decorated. The second tree pictured above is dedicated to my niece, which hopefully explains the Hello Kitty theme). Then there's the little Santas (also plural) from different parts of the world--it must be said that my family does gravitate towards the extreme of the extreme here, but they are tapping into a national consciousness that wholeheartedly embraces Christmas to death.

Its weird to be home. And home is crazy. But if I'm to be completely honest that's what I like the best about it.

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