Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summarization: She ain't gonna happen, man

My Philippines experience continues to struggle, push back and otherwise resist my efforts to bundle it up into a tidy little blog. There are strings of environmental non-sequiturs going everywhere, giant pieces of cultural misunderstandings that I can't squish down and dangerous bits of corruption and intrigue that just won't allow themselves to be nicely summarized with a bow on top.

What has surprised me most is how quickly and easily I've slipped back into Western ways of eating, talking, washing, travelling, watching hockey, eating lobsters, etc.

To be fair, it took a minute or so.

After six months of being greeted at every turn with "Hello Sir" "Yes Sir" "Anything Sir?", I did a bit of a double-take when the Canadian customs officer said to me "How's she goin, man?" And then, like the initial shock of an unheated Canadian swimming pool, it was gone and I was paddling happily into the deep end of Canadian culture, nearly oblivious to the conspicuous absence of endless car horns, backyard roosters and low-built ceilings.

In fact, the only thing that I have really struggled with has been crossing the street. I did my usual Filipino thing where I sauntered out into traffic, timing my walk so that I would arrive just behind a vehicle going one way, then wait in the middle for traffic to pass in the other direction.


It's not that anyone was angry with me either, since it was clear to all observers that I could not possibly be in my right mind. Everything came to a stop for a firm 100 metres in ever direction, and the concerned drivers waited patiently for me to scuttle the rest of the way across and (hopefully) find my way to whoever was withholding my medication. So crossing the street is a work in progress. But other things, like drinking tap water, turn out to be like riding a bike: you never forget.

Keep your fingers crossed that I remember how to skate as well.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Stu,

    Great blog! I just discovered it today via redirect from SCI's blog, which I hadn't looked at in months. I love your writing style and wit! Sounds like you had a great time overall - what are your plans now?

    At least you got a "how's she goin" at the airport - I basically just got interrogated, then sent to the back room of customs to be further interrogated. I was likewise surprised, though, how most other Canadian culture stuff returned to me quite quickly, though I still slip in an "ano?" in place of "what?" every so often!

    You got mayhem trying "Filipino walking", I got into similar trouble trying "Filipino driving" the other day when I refused to stop for a lady jogging across the street, as she wasn't near enough yet to the car - Needless to say she swore vehemently at me! Haha

    P.S. If you ever miss the "unidentifiable meat" of Filipino cuisine, I tried a Filipino restaurant here in Vancouver the other week (first time I had ever eaten said cuisine in this country) and can report that it is, on average, orders of magnitude better in quality than in the Philippines itself (no surprise really).

    Best wishes! - Julian