Looking Through The Glass Window

Dubai Rain

I was awaken today by a loud bang. It was the external wooden window. Pushed by the strong wind.

It wasn’t too bright and it’s not dark either. I looked at the clock and it says 9:30 am. I looked through the glass window. It was raining. What a surprise! It seldom rains in January as it seldom rains in Dubai.

Dubai rain usually comes by November or December when winter kicks in. The first rain of the year came too early. But who can say what? Who can predict what? Like us, the climate changes too.

People usually associate the weather with their feelings. Rainy days are often associated with sadness and pain. Maybe because in most of the romantic films, we often see lovers separating ways, crying and hurting and then comes the rain.

For some, the rain is a blessing from the sky, specially in the UAE when the rain comes only twice or thrice a year. I’ve heard of old stories of Arabs jumping out of their cars to dance in the middle of the road when the rain pours. In my nine years in Dubai, I have not seen such a scene. But who knows?

Some people just regard the rain as the best weather to sleep all day and with all honesty,  this sounds like a good plan.

So many emotions are triggered by the rain.

But, what if we look at things from a different perspective? What if we are to be a rain drop? The tiny drops that makes up the rain that showers us with those different emotions. How would we feel? How would it feel to be a rain drop?

Could it be liberating to be a rain drop? Could it mean freedom whenever it rains? Freedom from being held in the cloud for so long a time.  Freedom from anything. Once out of the dark cloud, it will feel like an endless slide.

A free fall.

Sometimes, like a cloud, we hold up so much of stress, pain, secrets or anger. But instead of a cloud, can’t we just be like a rain drop?

Maybe we should. Sometimes. Free to fall. Free from all the burden, pain and agony that we’ve held up for so long.

Try to be a rain drop once in a while and just let it all go. Let the wind take you to wherever till you drop on the ground and kiss the earth or join the lake, the river or the sea.

***

Hello 2016! Hello Project 366!

Day 2: Project 366 | A poem on Unrequited Love

Day 3: Project 366 | What’s the weather like where you are? How do you feel about it?

Exchange Gifts

I was raised a Christian but we never celebrated Christmas. For us, December 25 is just another ordinary day. Its not like we don’t celebrate the day that Christ was born. We just believe that it should be celebrated everyday rather than on a date that isn’t stated in the bible.

So I grew up not participating in Christmas parties, not buying gifts, nor exchanging them.

However, over the last few years I started attending Christmas parties not because its Christmas but because that’s the time when  friends gather and have fun. As an expat in Dubai where you have very few relatives and your friends become your family, attending parties like this feels like family gatherings more than anything else.

We were (me and my husband)  invited into two gatherings on the 24th. One is  engrande, and the other is a  much intimate one.

The first party we were invited to was organized by a family, friends of my husband. It was a gathering for 25 people with complete programe, games, singing and dancing and exchanging gifts. We decided to attend this party first since it was supposed to start at 7:30pm. But until we left at 9:30pm, there’s just 5 of us in the venue. We left as we had to attend another one and since there was an exchange gift, we just left the gifts and asked my husband’s friend to just bring along what’s for us.

Later on, I received a gift from someone named Jessica. Someone I have not even met.

A Victoria’s secret gift set.

Victoria's Secret

I did not understand the whole concept of inviting 25 people who don’t even know each other to attend the same party, let alone ask them to exchange gifts with one another. Maybe this is their form of socializing, meeting new people and making new friends and I was just too anti-social (like everyone says so) or maybe because I am not used to attending parties so I felt strange.

I’ve heard that the hosts invited several non-Filipinos to the party. One, who is of a totally different culture who never have heard about Christmas in his entire life, bought a candle for a gift worth 3 Dirhams when the exchange gift was for anything worth at least 50 Dirhams. The person who received the candle commented “anu ba yan, di pa nga ako patay binibigyan na ako ng kandila” (what is this, I am not dead yet but they are already giving me candles). We should really have written down our wish list, at least then we’ll know what to receive.

The exchange gift didn’t really make sense to me.

Exchange gift is accepting and thanking for what you have received, not demanding for what you want. It’s not about compensating the amount you spend for giving something, but for making the person feel glad. – from Anne’s recent post on Exchange Gifts

We headed to the 2nd gathering held at our friend’s house. There was just 7 of us. After having a light dinner, we played Uno,  played the guitar, sang 90s OPM songs and had few beers and kapeng barako afterwards (what a combination ha ha). We did exchange some gifts and it was fun.

They gave me plain white mugs because they know I’ll draw on them. Someone received a coffee tray because her hands always trembled while bringing cups from the kitchen. Someone received table mats that suits her wooden table.

These are simple things, not even expensive ones, but makes you feel that you are really remembered.

On the 25th, I received another gift from a friend. A pillow case set. When I thanked her she said “pasensya na, yan lang ang nakayanan” (sorry, that’s all I can afford).

Really, why say sorry for giving  a pillow case set?

Sometimes it is difficult to choose and buy a gift to a person who (you feel) has everything already. Or who can buy whatever she/he needs. Or who only buys expensive things. And yes sometimes you’ll think that they might just throw your gift as they can buy better ones anyway.

Yes, its true that they might just set your gift aside as they may not like it  but the fact that you made an effort and you’ve let them know that they were remembered is what they’ll appreciate.

Christmas is the season of giving but let us not forget that we can always give a gift to anyone at any given time. It does not have to be on Christmas.  The least the person expects a gift, the more he/she gets surprised. The more the effort is appreciated.

Let us also remember that our main reason for giving a gift shouldn’t be because we need to but because we want to.

 

Hopes are like Hair Ornaments….

By the time you lay your eyes on this post, whether you read this or not (ha ha), I should have been packing my bags and by Saturday I would have been on a plane to Vienna. In a few days time I would have been wearing the nice winter outfits that I bought and I would have been walking down the beautiful streets of Vienna and maybe sitting in one of the cafes having a nice warm Viennese coffee while listening to some classical music.

But due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to cancel this Vienna trip that I had long dreamed of.

I almost died crying. But I didn’t die.

Moms, as they always do, have the habit of reminding you, how you were as a kid. It could be fun, it could be embarrassing. There are things you’ll remember, there are things you won’t.

When I was a toddler, as she said, I wouldn’t stop crying till she buys me an ice cream. She’ll buy not because I want it but out of shame on the scene that I’ve made inside the supermarket.

She said that after sometime, I started asking for wallets and bags whenever we go to malls. I won’t cry anymore but I won’t stop looking at the bag or wallet. I would stand there looking at the thing that I want till she buys it either out of pity on how sad my face was or out of irritation on my obstinacy.

A different tactic, I would say. A different way of asking you to buy things for me. And I will just laugh it off, though to sum it up, I was really a stubborn kid. She doesn’t say it directly and I don’t admit it either.

Back in the 90s, having a whole set of Encyclopedia is like a form of a social status. It’s like, having a set displayed on a nice varnished bookshelf in your living room makes you either look so cool or smart or (rich?) whatever the case is. I think I was just ten years old when I asked my mom to buy that encyclopedia set.

There was this one sales guy who kept coming back to offer the whole set along with some freebies at a very irresistible deal – that we don’t have to pay it all upfront. We can pay it monthly, for like a year or two.

Like the sales guy, I didn’t stop asking mom to buy that encyclopedia till she did.

In the end, I did not even read the whole set. I wasn’t even close to finishing one volume, let alone the whole set (of 20 volumes or more). The encyclopedia set, became, a form of a social status, a reference from time to time, and now, an antique display.

My mom did not have to tell this story over and over again for me to remember it as my memory of it is as clear as the summer sky whenever I see the Encyclopedia set.

Today, while still in remorse about my canceled trip, I remembered one of the lines in the novel Memoirs of a Geisha.

Young girls hope all sorts of foolish things. Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear many of them. When they become old they look silly wearing even one.

– Mameha, Memoirs of a Geisha

I can well, replace the word hope, with dreams or aspirations or wants.

I always try to push for the things that I want in any possible way I can, no matter which direction I take. I’ll try because I want to, even if I don’t really need to. This is how I always was, and I believe I still am.

Trying to get what you want could be a good or bad thing, and in my case, if I push for what I want this time, it will be the latter.

It broke my heart when I canceled the trip. It’s nearly 4 days away. I could almost see myself wandering in Vienna, experiencing my first white Christmas, venturing Europe for the first time.

I have the time and resources to pursue this trip but the timing isn’t just right. There could be a next time, or there could be none.

I’m still crying a river because it hurts not to get what you want, what you’ve always longed for and what you have already looked forward to.

But things are quite different now. It’s not just a matter of ice cream, or purse or bag or a whole set of Encyclopedia. There’s more to life than what we want.

I have really dreamed of this trip and I hope that I’ll get another chance. And if the right time comes, I’ll make sure that the trip won’t be just another ornament on my hair.

Finding Your Lost Self in a Sea of Strangers

Recently, I’ve been hanging out with a group of people that is totally different from my group of friends. People that I never thought I’d ever spend time with.

They all reach home by 7 to 7:30 in the evening. They’ll start cooking, chatting and laughing. And once the cooking is done, they sit and eat altogether. And gossip altogether.

I’ve read somewhere, and I’ve kept in mind, this saying that Bright People talk about Science and Politics, Average People talk about Events and the Below Average talk about other people’s lives. Is this really for real? Do bright people never really gossip? At all?

I guess, a little bit of  gossip won’t hurt. A little bit of gossip makes us human.

I was overwhelmed by the warmth of their acceptance and a pang of guilt hit me after learning that they have always asked for me after our first meet up.  They have always looked forward to the day(s) that I’d come back and meet them again. I was not really interested in meeting any of them and much more, becoming part of their lives.

But then for some reasons, I went to see them again and for some reasons I started enjoying their company.

I have no idea why, but I noticed that they like sharing their life stories to me. They are too eager to tell me their share of misfortunes, their lives prior to becoming an OFW,  how they survived and how they ended up here in Dubai. They are so proud of their stories as if their sufferings are gold medals that they can hang on their chests.

After several meet ups, they are still too excited to share their stories to me, parts of their lives that they haven’t told me before. Maybe because they felt that I’m a good listener, or maybe because I look like the odd one out. Or maybe they all think that I did not have my share of misfortunes too. Maybe, I got myself all covered up with a nice little costume that’s why they can’t see through.

After dinner, they all gather up and sit cross-legged on the floor, eat chips and drink cola or coffee. They don’t need cozy sofa set, fancy coffees and macaroons to have their stories shared. They don’t take photos and tag each other on social media sites and write statuses like “Bonding with Friends” or “Having Great Time with Friends.”  They don’t need to tell the whole sundry that they are having a great time, they are just living the moment.

This bond has somehow helped all of them survive their months and years of being away from their families back home. This bond, is somehow, keeping them sane as it’s not easy to be thousand miles away from home and work for long hours only to earn less than Php 20k a month.

Somehow, they found comfort in each other. In each other’s company. In each other’s lives. In each other’s luck and misfortunes.

Somehow, I found comfort in them too.

These past few weeks, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve faced so many issues, significant and unnecessary ones, a web of complication that I have woven myself into and I can’t work my way  out. I felt disoriented. I felt that I’m losing it – whatever it is.

Meeting these people and hearing their stories somehow, had been an eye-opener. Sometimes, life is really simple. It is only us who complicates it.

They reminded me of my old self, my first year here in Dubai. A part of my life that I’ve always reminisced but somehow, I’ve always failed to remember.

Those were the days. When life was simpler. When I never really cared for anything else but to get my salary by the end of the month and send money home.

Sometimes when life gets too complicated we get lost and we wish to go back to our old selves. Our simpler selves. Our happier selves.

If you think you’ve lost yourself,  try looking for it in a sea of strangers. You might really find what you are looking for.

How do we define the word “Baduy”?

There’s one Filipino Radio Station here in Dubai, TAG 91.1, and whenever I tune in, I feel like I’m listening to Love Radio or Yes FM. The whole setup of the station from the music that they play to the DJs and their funny names – Pinoy na Pinoy.

Whenever I tune in, never will I not hear Karylle’s Kapiling Kita and so this song got stuck in my head, till now.

I was singing the chorus of the song once, to myself, but someone overheard and asked me what the song was and who sang it. I actually laughed before answering. And the person who asked, upon hearing my answer, laughed too and said yuck! Baduy nito!

But how do we actually define baduy? I searched for English translations of the word and I found bad taste and wearing unfashionable clothes.

I am a fan of alternative, rock and punk rock music. But I also listen to the likes of Karylle, does that make me baduy? I also watch Fliptop, does that make me baduy?

If I watch AlDub or OTWOL instead of The Walking Dead of Game of Thrones, does that make me baduy?

If I like to wear black clothes and you like to wear bright orange or apple green, who’s baduy then? If I would like to tuck my shirt in and if I am more comfortable with high waist pants, does that make me baduy?

Are the jejes baduy? If they are baduy, do they have the right to call someone else baduy too? Maybe their outfit is really a pain in my eyes but can I call them baduy because I don’t have the same taste that they do?

Jeje outfit – image from downwithtunes.blogspot.com

If I have an LV or MK bag and you have a bag with no brand or maybe an imitation of LV or MK that you bought from Divisoria, does that make you baduy? Can money also define who’s baduy and who’s not? How about those who can’t afford to buy branded items? Does that make them baduy?

Who actually defines what is bad taste and what is good? Who sets the standard? Fashion designers? Music gurus? People with higher social status? Ourselves?

If you go to church or to a gathering or a celebration with your best clothes on and you only have one pair – a fuchsia pink shirt and an apple green checkered pants.  Does that make you baduy? Can social standing define baduy? Can we call a person without a choice baduy too?

We all have our own preferences. What I prefer does not make your taste bad and vice versa.

So tell me, how do you define baduy?

Image from pinterest

Waiting for the bus, waiting for the right time

Waiting for the bus, waiting for the right time

image from wikipedia.org

 

I started taking the public bus a few weeks ago.

I am so used to taking our shuttle service that drops and picks me up right in front of my office and apartment doorstep, that taking the public bus made me a feel a bit nervous.

Nervous because I have not ridden the public bus for so long a time and I’m not sure about the route that these buses take.  If I jump in the wrong one, I might end up in the middle of the desert.

On the first night of my public bus journey, I reached the bus stop at around 6:30pm. Obviously, 6:30pm is a rush hour. Everyone has gone out of their offices. Everyone wants to get home quickly. Everyone’s in a hurry.

I stood at the crowded bus station for about ten minutes when the first bus came. Jam packed as it is, the crowd still hurriedly ran to the bus when it stopped and opened its doors to unload a few passengers. They pushed and tried to squeeze themselves in until there’s really no more space to drop a pin.

I waited again. I was sure that another bus will arrive in no time. Some passengers waited too while some did not and took the taxi instead.

After another ten minutes of waiting, two buses came. I had the luxury to choose which bus should I take as both were half empty.

The ride was smooth and comfortable. I didn’t have to push anyone or get pushed back.

When we reached our destination which is the metro station, the first bus, the jam packed one, just arrived too. This bus might have been stuck in the heavy traffic.

I felt bad for those who immediately jumped in the first bus. They were pushed and squeezed, and tired as they were from the long day at work, they still had to fight to get in the bus and stand uncomfortably while stuck in the heavy traffic when they could have comfortably sat inside the half empty buses if only they had the patience to wait for a bit more.

Back home, they usually compare the buses, or jeeps with love life. I thought there’s more to that.

Waiting for the bus is also like waiting for the right time, right opportunity or the right solution to our problems. The issue is, we are too impatient at times that we fight to get into the very first bus that arrives, knowing that more buses will come afterwards anyway.

We fight to get into the bus, unaware if the ride is even worth the fight.

We fight and push others to the point of hurting them. Then they push us back, sometimes harder, to the point that we fall off.  And if we don’t fall off, we surrender and voluntarily get off the bus at the next possible stop which is why we don’t reach our intended destinations and  we regret our decisions.

Sometimes all we have to do is just step back and wait. Wait till the rush hour cools down. Wait till the next empty bus arrives. Wait for the right time, opportunity or solution, as waiting for a little bit more won’t hurt at all.