26 December 2010

Shabu-Shabu and A Long Ride Home…

Because tomorrow, our American guest Brother Brendan leaves for Manila, we treated him out to dinner tonight at a Korean restaurant called Shabu-Shabu.

“What does the name mean?” I asked the waitress who greeted us. “Cook past, eat past,” was her reply.

Uhm… I realized… despite the chinky eyes and the sallow complexion, she was not Korean at all.

Cook fast, eat fast… that was what she meant… Of course, no Pinoy would dream of naming a restaurant that way, else the market niche would be narrowed down to addicts and narcs, and not necessarily in that order…

I ordered the seafood combination, consisting of three prawns, two squids and thin fillets of fish. You cooked everything, including the veggies, in a pot built into the table. Wasn’t that neat…!!!???

I was tired from the day’s work but had a good appetite, nonetheless. The food was good!

On the way back, I asked the driver of the school van to drop me off at the jeepney station in front of Rob. I was feeling lucky when a jeepney came in no time at all, but as it turned out, there was no luck at all…

A truck had slammed into a passenger bus a few meters from Tambô’s elementary school, and the traffic stretched all the way to Paninsingin.

What was normally a 15-minute ride took over an hour!

This sort of thing happens every now and again. You sort of feel resigned when you get caught in such a jam, given that the highway has no more than four lanes. When two get blocked by an accident, well, you can imagine what it was like…

It’s when these humongous traffic jams occur that one gets to observe three kinds of idiots.

To the rational, the fact that there is no traffic coming through from the opposite direction means there’s something blocking the road badly somewhere…

When you have drivers happily exploiting the empty opposite lanes, well, there you have your first kind of idiots…

The second type would be those who followed the first type, thus ensuring the jams stay stationary at some points.

Then, the third kind would be the citizens who step onto the road somewhere along the way to try to restore order but not really knowing how to. Kindred spirits, but idiots nonetheless… The ones I saw tonight, methinks, made matters worse…

The trip was aggravated by having to sit next to a skinny kid who listened to his phone radio by way of a headphone, chewed gum incessantly and frantically tried to solve his Rubik’s cube. He was all bones and I was irritated when his elbows periodically jabbed into my sides.

He only sat still when I gave him a heavy shoulder tackle when the driver braked heavily at some point along the way…

Then there were these two teenage girls wearing short shorts who could not stop talking and giggling. Everyone else in the jeepney wore a scowl on his or her face because of the heavy traffic. The two gals thought they were in a private air-conditioned car…

In fairness they had great legs… I emphasize the legs because a quick glance up their faces sent my look diving straight back down. At some point, both took out their compact mirrors and started powdering their faces. Now if that isn’t desperate, I really do not know what is…

Ah well… I’m still feeling a bit mean, but the fact is that I’m now here at home, typing this note with my shoes finally off my feet…

Taking off one’s shoes at the end of a long day… that has got to be among the most understated pleasures in life…!!!

[This story was first published on Facebook on 1 February 2008.]
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