Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Manila trip - Part 4

Before you guys go "What??? Another one???" let me reassure you that is the last of my Manila Trip series. (Did I hear sighs of relief?)

The next morning, there was a slight drizzle, and things somehow looked very different. An ardent lover of rain, I was all jumpy and happy. The drive to the school was an incredibly long one, and I was having a blast clicking pictures of whatever I could, while others took a nap.


Rainy day by the bay, captured by Sayesha, who refused to take a nap


I love this pic. Jeep in focus, person blurred out. Just the way I like things here at Sayeshaz! ;)

This is a picture of a jeep, a mode of public transport that costs only 7 pesos for the first 4 kms! I really wanted to take a ride in a jeep, but Paulo wouldn't allow it. D promised to take me around in a jeep the next time I was in Manila.

But when?? Sigh.

As per usual practice, I always take photos of funny signs whenever I can. I found these two signs particularly hilarious.



The one on top said, "Do not block the sidewalk. The sidewalk is for people." Errr.. you mean the roads are not for people?

The second was "No parking both sides!" But what if I park on only one side? :P


We reached the school, and the Maths speaker started his session. The Director of the school, who turned out to be this extremely young-looking grandma (her photo's on Hopscotch) suggested that there was no point in me just waiting around for my turn, and I might as well do some shopping instead. She drove us to a nearby mall in Global City called 'Market! Market!' which was simply fabulous!


Market! Market! What a cool name!

We only had like two hours before I was due at the venue, so we split and went on to do our own shopping. I bought many many accessories at this little shop before I attacked the clothes shops.

I was walking around when I spotted it. The proverbial little black dress that every girl in the world must own. I had been looking for mine for a very very long time, and I could find it neither in India, nor Singapore, nor the UK. Something or the other would just not be right.

But there it was, tucked in a shop in Manila, my perfect little black dress.


I tried it on in five different colours (!!), and finally fell in love with two - the black one and the red one. I decided to get both because little dresses are like black shoes, one can never have too many of them.

Suddenly I realised that I should check how much money I had before I made any grand purchases. The last evening, I had bought dried mangoes and candy for my colleagues, and I had no idea how much cash I had left. The shops did not accept credit cards, so I had to use my pesos. To my horror, I realised I did not have enough cash to buy both dresses, and I was so not leaving the shop with only one of them. If I walked away with one, it would be an insult to the one I left behind. So I bargained and bargained until the lady in the shop agreed to my price.

And so I came out of the shop utterly delighted, carrying a bag with two fabulous dresses and a wallet with only 15 pesos (less than a dollar!) left.


When I told the others how I had cleaned my wallet out, they started laughing.

"So what are you going to do with your 15 pesos now?"

"Spend it, of course! I am due at the venue in 15 minutes after which I am going to the airport. I don't need to keep any cash on me."

"Good luck trying to find something that you can get in 15 pesos!" They laughed.

"Oh yeah! You wanna try me?" As usual, always up for a challenge.

I walked around on my 'spend the 15 pesos' mission. They were right, what could I possibly get in 15 pesos?


Steamed peanuts? Yikes, who was gonna eat them??


I could have bought a fruit or two, but the shopkeeper would have laughed at me.


Bougainvillea bonsai? Naah, beyond my budget.

Finally, I found a bakery that was selling packets of cute little muffins. All cleaned out, I triumphantly made my way back to my group and showed them the muffins. They laughed helplessly as we gobbled on the tiny muffins.

And oh, may I just say that they were the softest muffins in the entire world??

Oh man.


Paulo's driver was there in his green van to fetch us. We had a quick lunch, and then my session started. This time, I had a mixture of English, Science and Maths teachers so I tried hard to make my presentation as lively as possible as not to put the English and Maths people to sleep. Thankfully, they didn't.

The Q&A also went well. Oh, this reminds me. In one of the schools on the first day, one of the teachers raised her hand and her question was "Can I see the thumb drive you used? I want to see how small it is."

It was such an incredibly cute question that I almost hugged her.

After my session, I had a little chat with the school's director over some cut fruits. She told me how she had started the school as a small tuition centre, and how it had grown to have both primary and secondary levels. I almost choked on my watermelon slice when she showed me pictures of her grand-kids.

"You're a grandmother? Wow!" I could not help but exclaim. She looked so young! (Check out her pics on Hopscotch.)

She said she wanted a copy of the Science revision guide that I'd co-written. Unfortunately, we were out of copies.

"You must send me one when you get back to Singapore. An autographed copy, please."

The book she's talking about is my pride and joy. I was never supposed to write it in the first place. The original authors had backed out at the last minute, but the book had been promised to the schools. Teachers had even seen the cover design! Marketing told us that there was no way out, but to come out with the book on time. So a bunch of us editors decided to split the work and do the writing. How I remember the breath of relief we had when it finally went to press.

The book went on to become a bestseller. We sold more than 25000 copies in half a year. However, we did not get any royalties from it, because according to company policy, employees can't earn royalties. So we were just given a bonus as reward for the book's phenomenal success. The other day, I was calculating -- if we'd been getting royalties, I'd be $11000 (and growing) richer now.

Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

But the book continues to be very close to my heart, and every time I come across a copy, I remember the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. And I am filled with a sense of pride.

Sheesh, look at me, all carried away. Now where was I?

It was time to leave for the airport. My Marketing Manager asked, "So all you guys have your airport tax?"

Shock. Horror. I had completely forgotten that he had passed me 550 pesos to pay airport tax on the way back. My shopping buddies started laughing.

"Sayesha's airport tax went into a little black dress."

(Sheesh, that made me sound like such a bimbo!)

"WHAT?" He could not believe it. "How many pesos do you have on you now?"

The girls were giggling like crazy.

"Zero. I have no more pesos."

"You spent it ALL?"

"Errr... yeah. Listen, I need to borrow 550 pesos. I will pay you back in Singapore dollars."

After a lot of leg-pulling, he finally lent me the money. Phew.

So Paulo dropped us off at the airport, and we made our way in. After another round of endless waiting, we had crossed immigration. The Maths speaker was hungry so we had some snacks at a cafe where I took the last round of my Manila pictures.


The aim was to get the plane exactly in the centre of the photo and I succeeded.


And this is the last one. Goodbye, Manila! You're fabulous!

I landed in Singapore around 10:30 pm.

And as I stepped out of the gates after picking up my luggage, my little song came back to me.

And I ask myself at the end of the day
'Whom did you miss the most today?'

Suddenly, in a flash, everything became crystal clear.

The one I'd missed the most was there at the airport to receive me.



33 comments:

bananapen said...

Wow I'm first? ;)
Just wanted to comment that your last line was really sweet.

Aethyr said...

what this is last???no no no ....
i want more of vanila..i mean manila..lol

Macho Girl said...

The last post on manila! Phew!!!

Haha, jus kiddin. Enjoyed every post on manila.

U had a clean wallet eh? sounds extremely familiar to me! It happens every once in a while with me :"> Darn those sales that u just can't resist! ;) I better not go to Market! Market! :P Judging by ur post, things seem pretty cheap (compared to sg, almost all other places arnd here seem cheap!)

And btw, that lady has gotta be one of the youngest grandmoms i have seen!! :O

Kais said...

sounds like it was a fun trip..nice pics too..I almost went to Phillipines once but the trip was cancelled because of "conflict" in the region or something :(

Cheers
Kais

ashy said...

I am the fifth one...I cannot belive this.
nice pics Sayesha :-)

kaushik said...

hey...
great trip...
so u r the author of a bestseller eh!!
great.

Rays Of Sun said...

I wanna be in Manila with you:(
and rainy day by the bay..Phew..wow!
reminds me of the thela across Juhu beach in Mumbai:)

Lalit Singh said...

Thanks!!
tumne sabko Manila ghuma diya.

And those Sunset pics are very nice...
You shot them from behind the wondow didn't ya?

Starbreez said...

I condone that shopping spell you went on highly! Good on you for finding that black dress, at last! Everytime I'm out, and I spot a black dress, I always check it out on your behalf -- so, no need to any more? And the spending of your airport tax! And aw, what a last line. :]

Thanu said...

Mere ko woh black and red dress ka pict chahiye...

Loved the ending to this post..

Harshi said...

Good you found your lil blk dress. That was meant for you Sash, tucked away in a shop in Manila. I have been looking for mine for a long, long time too, haha :-). If I spot one, I am going to empty my wallet as well. And steamed peanuts sounds Yummy Sash! U don't like them? I remember having the home-made boiled n salted ones...and they were so delicious!

Speechless with the last line :-).
Just very touching.

And thanks for our tour of Manila. Loved it. I will forever remember Buku Salad, haha :-).

Vikram said...

What the hell is airport tax yaar?

And send me a copy of your book, autographed please

And please make it out to "Vikram, the best guy on Earth..."

Thank you,

Sincerely,

Ahem

Sahil said...

The one I'd missed the most was there at the airport to receive me.

The Singaporean immigration officer! I knew it!

Eclectic Blogger said...

Enojyed ur Manila series.. now eagerly awaiting ur 'regular' posts..

Drops Of Jupiter said...

YOU SHOULD BE GETTING ROYALTIES!!!!

Writing==IP==Royalties!

So please, sue them ;)

Sayesha said...

#Banana,
Thanks! :)

#Aethyr,
Hahahahaha! Visit it yaar! And then blog about it, we will all read! :)

#Macho Girl,
Yes, I must warn you, don't visit Market Market with a lot of pesos, keep US$ or Sing$, but not pesos! Else you'll be cleaned out within half an hour! :P

//And btw, that lady has gotta be one of the youngest grandmoms i have seen!!

I know!! :O

#Kais,
Oh yeah, there's always something or the other going on. Even this time around, there was so threat of terrorism (don't tell my parents!) :)

#Ashy,
Thanks! :)

#Kaushik,
Co-author :)

#ROS,
Yaar tu mujhe Bombay ghuma. But I must warn you, I will be on a sadak-chhaap pani-puni only diet for the entire duration of the trip. Chalega na? :P

#Lalit,
Thanks, yaar! Yeah, shot them from behind a very dirty window, I had to clean the window myself before I took the pics and still some stains wouldn't go! :/

#Starbreez,
//Everytime I'm out, and I spot a black dress, I always check it out on your behalf

Thanks, girl! That's incredibly sweet! :)

//so, no need to any more?

WHAT?? No! One can never have too many little dresses, remember? I am still looking for one with sleeves. :)

//And aw, what a last line. :]

Hehehe... you rarely get to see this side of me, eh? :P

#Thanu,
Thanks! :) Achha when I wear it na (possibly for the Shreya Ghoshal concert in April), I will take a pic for you and email it over! :)

#Harshi,
Thanks! :P Yeah, I found mine, hope you find yours soon! You're gonna look a total stunner in that! :)

I hate peanuts! And walnuts. And hazelnuts. :S

Hope you get to try buku salad some time. I am still looking for the ingredients. Mil gaye aur achha bana toh tujhe recipe pakka! :)

#Vikram,
Arre yaar, at some airports, you have to pay alag se, at others it's included in your airfare.

//And send me a copy of your book, autographed please

Tujhko pata bhi hai kitna mota book hai? If I throw it at your head, you will collapse to the floor! :D

I'll be taking a copy for my sister when I go to the US. Will show you then. :)

#Sahil,
Hahaha! Reminds me of the 'Moti opera singer' scene from DCH :)

Frankly Sahil, I am disappointed. Itne dinon baad mere blog par aaye ho, and that's all you have to say? Great.

#Eclectic,
Thanks! :) I'm looking forward to writing my 'regular' posts too! :)

#Jupiter,
Sigh, I wish yaar! :(

Sneha Acharya said...

WOW such a cute posts on ur trip. I have been reading all the 4. no wonder the book u have cowritten has become a best seller :-)

Sayesha said...

#Sneha,
Thanks, dear. Glad you liked the tales of my trip :)

//no wonder the book u have cowritten has become a best seller :-)

Hahahaha! No yaar, the book I wrote was a revision guide for primary school science in Singapore. Sounds really boring, doesn't it? :P

Anonymous said...

wow, what a trip you had! i got hooked... i hope i can show you around the next time you go there :) - simsim

Rohit Talwar said...

Oops, me late.

AIRPORT TAX?!!


This pic: Jeep in focus, person blurred out. Aah. Dil khush kar diya re baba!!

Nabeel said...

very nice pictures .. it was fun to look at 'em. the second picture is my favorite

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