I’ve been desperate to experience Manila – never have I been to a city and not seen it, heard it, felt it, tasted it, like the past few days.
As we walked out of the university building, I already mourned how short a time I’d have to take the city in; mourning the loss before even having the experience. What’s that about?
There’s a pink painted line on the concrete sidewalk, next to a green one. For parking perhaps. But why pink? The pink line on a congested, chaotic, unpleasant main road. The glimpse of pink dreams.
Finally we turn to a side street. Memories of a walk in Dar es Salaam in random neigborhoods, filled with car repair shops and hardware stores, flood my mind.
There is an immediate sense of comfort stepping onto to the sidestreet. I’ve never been one to walk on the main road.
Young men without shirts unbuttoned, or topless are on the left. Finally a scene to observe. There’s meat on the BBQ. One of them is lounging, taking as much space in a macho way as possible.
No more gas stations. Enter eateries.
One door has a sign that says “Inquiries Within.” I fight the urge the follow the few people going in. I have some inquiries myself. What’s it like to live in Manila? Is it really that dangerous? (I didn’t feel any danger walking on the side street). What’s it like on this street at night? Who stays in the hotel across the street?
Then we have to turn back. The side street bliss is over. I would have liked to step into a store, peek into that bar, turn to yet another side street. No main roads, please.
A rickshaw driver waves at me. Obviously he wants me to hire him but for some reasons I though he just waved at me. Did they have rickshaws in Dar es Salaam?
The odd thing is that once back on the main street, there’s the pink line again. Is it the pink line leading to bliss? Could it be that main streets are capable of that?
No no, I just want to turn back. We’re getting back too early. I’m jealous of the others getting to spend spend 5 minutes longer in Manila. Why did we come back so early? Why didn’t I ask us to turn to a side street earlier?
Trying to rationalize that 5 minutes are nothing, I still cannot shake the feeling of jealousy. I would liked to walk on the side street longer. Longer than waiting inside. Longer than sitting down doing writing exercises.
The side street bliss. What stops me from putting up a tent & setting camp? There were even a few trees on the side street; it looked inviting.
Fuck the pink line. Fuck the main street. Fuck the pink line of the main street.