Saturday, June 24, 2006

Sleepless in Singapore

It' almost 2am in Singapore and I'm in front of my laptop furiously finishing a report for my work in Manila. And since I am blogging, it means I am obviously not "working." Why so? Well, I need to get through my grief process. You see, my Mac died on me the first night I flew in to Singapore (a week ago). That's a Mac iBook G3. My shiny white handsome companion for the past three years. I had budgeted for it to last me 5 years and I had high hopes that this would be the case, since I have been told Macs never crash. So much for a committed long-term relationship. Sigh.

When I walked back to the guesthouse after being told this bad news by the lady at the Mac Clinic, I was emotionally numb. Carrying my Mac in my backpack and walking past shop windows along Orchard Road, I stared stupidly at myself and thought I looked good. I walked on and thought what a good thing I brought my umbrella as I felt a light drizzle. I was numb. Funny how the Lord makes us numb when "tragedy" hits us...maybe that's His way of administering anaesthesia to my poor pained soul.

Then I thought hit me..hmm...good thing I wasn't able to name my iBook, that would have made its dying more painful! When I got back to my room, I put the shiny white iBook on the table and decided to press the power button and see what happens. After trying gazillions of times (probably my way of working through my grief), it did a Lazarus! It blinked on for a while and allowed me to go and save my personal files (yes, I admit to the sheer stupidity of not backing up files!! At least the personal ones...) After that, it came on again a few more times (after pressing the power button another gazillion of times). It's fierce grinding noise as it came on convinced to me that it was in the throes of death. Maybe coming on was its way of saying goodbye to me.

I don't have much time to grieve, not with work breathing down my neck. So I was off to Funan Centre and Sim Lim Square to find a new PC (I will be declaring bankruptcy very soon...) when my iBook was pronounced clinically dead. After much asking around and pretending I understood what the salesman was saying about RAM, DVD Multilayers, blah blah, blah, I decided to go back to PC. I would have given Mac and Steve Jobs a second chance to prove themselves but they didn't have stock. As Singaporeans would say, "What to do, lah!"

So I am now in front of my Toshiba laptop, and able to thank God that my iBook died on me while Singapore is in sale season, thus able to get a Toshiba at an incredibly low price (plus rebate) that I would never be able to get in the Philippines. This eased my grieving a bit. But am now a little bit more cautious about developing a personal relationship with machines. So I don't think I will be naming this one...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Glimpses of Paradise

Manila. The mere mention of the name conjures up images of smog, trash, beggars, crime, traffic and all things negative. No wonder we see more and more people leaving Manila for either Western countries (read: clean and modern) or smaller towns (read: clean and safe).

I have yet to meet anyone who would admit to enjoying Manila living. I wouldn’t admit to that myself! Yet there are certain things that has made living in Manila bearable, and even fun.

Amidst the dirt and grime, if you look hard enough, you can see glimpses of paradise.

*On the daily commute:
a. Observe how you can confidently pass your jeepney fare from one passenger to the next and have it reach the driver even if you are sitting on the farthest spot.
b. Observe how, when you have a seemingly deaf driver, everyone helps you scream “para” when the driver zooms pass the spot you’re suppose to get down.
c. Observe how everyone helps bring the little old lady’s heavy basket into the jeep so she doesn’t have to struggle getting on the jeep and struggling with her heavy purchases at the same time.
d. Observe how drivers sometimes crack jokes at each other while trying to beat each other to the next stop.
e. Observe how many funny incidents you’ve experienced from your daily commutes.

*In your neighborhood:
a. Observe how you can still swap stories with your neighbor who sells yummy (and cheap) breakfast and lunch meals.
b. Observe how people can often patiently endure hellishly awful karaoke singing by obnoxious neighbors. (although I’ve heard of tragic endings that befall those who insist on singing ‘I Did It My Way.’)
c. Observe how children play with the simplest of toys with glee—hardly annoyed that they are robbed of the right to a proper playground.

*On the streets:
a. Observe how you can still find somebody who would gladly share their umbrella when you’re caught in a sudden downpour.
b. Observe how you can still find concerned citizens who will tell you to zip up your bag when you’ve forgotten to do so, and thus save you from pickpockets.

There could be more one can add to the list. Glimpses of paradise, touches of God’s grace---helping us endure the harsh realities of living in Manila.