Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Coffee, Cats and Rain

This afternoon, I met Kendra for some Starbucks at the Manila Stock Exchange building. She stops by about once a week, so the workers there know her by name and are super friendly.

[Yep, that's a Technics t-shirt. Cost me 350 Pesos. Pretty sure it hasn't been approved by the corporate legal department...] Afterwards, Kendra headed back to work and I went off to look for a used bookstore that I had seen a few weeks before. I knew the general area where I had been, but didn't know the specific location. I found it again without too much problem, and just in time, because as I was crossing the street to the front door, the skies opened up and brought down a massive deluge of heavy sheets of rain. Instead of going into the store, I joined with the dozens of other people on the street running for cover under the many overhangs that protect many of the sidewalks.

Luckily, I found an overhang that went nearly the entire length of a block, and was wide enough to shield me from the sometimes nearly horizontal spray. I took a few shots from my hideout and watched the rain pour down.

[These umbrellas are bigger than the people that carry them. Also, umbrellas carried at Filipino-head-height have their sharp pokey metal points directly at American-eyeball-height. I'll be wearing sunglasses whenever it rains here.]
[Trying to capture the intensity of rain on film. Not sure it worked. I guess you had to be there. I'll try video next time.]

[It's amazing how nice some areas of Manila smell after a good, hard rain. Get yourself into an area with trees and flowers and you almost forget the ever-present asthma-inducing pollution] The rain lasted for a good hour. I ran back to the safety of the bookstore and waited it out there. The bookstore turned out to specialize mostly in college entry-level Psychology textbooks from the late 1980's or dog-eared paperback editions of 99 Ways to Cook Pasta.

Earlier this week, I revisited the wet market for some fresh, non-urban jungle photo subjects.

[There's never a shortage of feline models. I miss my cat.]
[The tailor.]
[Mangoes, Bananas, Pineapples!]
[Boy's Best Friend]
[The candy store- also selling shampoo sachets]

Final Note:
I would have enjoyed nothing more than getting fully swept up into the global World Cup frenzy (I even picked Argentina and Italy as my teams to root for). I've never paid it any attention before and it seemed like a fun month-long diversion from the normal routine of things. Alas, I don't think it's going to happen.

It's not that there's anything wrong with the game in general. Soccer's a great sport to play (a ball, an open space, no expensive gear neccesary) and it's a blast to watch live (marshmallows were never considered contraband until Messiah College students got their hands on them).

It's just that the TV coverage here in Manila of this highly passionate and energetic world event is beyond dull. And it's not just because the on-air announcers have the vocal enthusiasim of a running commentary on planting cabbage. Whenever you turn on a game that's already started, there's zero on-screen information to get you up to speed and into the game. You can tell by the ball design that it's a World Cup match, but no telling which team is which, or even what countries are in the game. No time remaining display. Not even a score.

And you can't hear anything. There's a million crazed and wildly patriotic (not to mention wildly drunk) fans packing these arenas- each with their own chants, cheers, horns, whistles and all-out hollering. It all comes across on TV as a softly muted hum- sort of like the engine noise on an airplane that you are always trying to tune out. I may just try turning off the TV sound completely and cranking up some Concord Dawn tracks on the old iPod at high volume just to feel some energy in the room. I'm not going to sit 10 minutes waiting to find out who's playing who and who's winning while listening to 2 uninteresting guys in droning English accents talking about their cabbage. This World Cup event is supposed to inspire nations to rally together in passionate competition. I'm inspired to change the channel.

Even baseball, which is by far the most boring subject ever televised, has a billion statistics and other information on the screen to keep your mind into the game. Oh well...I'd like to think that my life is minimaly impacted by what is or is not on TV. And CNN does a fine job of covering the daily soccer highlightes.

(Of course, if it was broadcast in HD........)


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