Saturday, November 15, 2008
Manila Airport. On a business trip:
I exited from the airport, and was directed toward the coupon taxis that charge fixed rates for rides into the city. The reception counter was a box on the sidewalk, where the taxis were lined up, and fares to various hotels posted on a sign behind it. I was going to the Renaissance Hotel. I quickly scanned the board. No Renaissance Hotel. Not a good start.
"Where are you going, sir?" A stout man asked as I approached.
"Renaissance Hotel, Makati." I said.
"Four hundred porty pesos. See him." he said, pointing to the man behind the counter.
"Renaissance Hotel, Makati." I said, to the man behind the counter.
"Renaissance Hotel?" He looked at the board behind him. Nothing. He opened a black binder, running his finger across the page. Nothing. I had not made reservations, did not have a phone number for the hotel, and had chosen not to buy a sim card with which I could easily have called my host.
He looked at the man behind the counter, and asked "Nasaan ang Renaissance Hotel?"
The man nodded knowlingly, and explained in Tagalog. I couldn't follow.
"Tree hundred tirty pesos." the man behind the counter replied. He wrote out a coupon, and said "Gib dis to da driver. You pay the driver, plus tip."
I climbed in the cab. "Renaissance Hotel, Makati." I told him. There was an awkward silence, and then he replied. "Okay," and started pulling away. I thought to myself, "He doesn't know where the Renaissance Hotel is. Why didn't he ask before pulling out?"
Another awkward silence. "Is that by the green belt?" He asked.
"Maybe." I said. "This is my first time there."
We were exiting the taxi turnaround. Too late to stop and ask for directions now.
Lesson learned: make sure that the people you're directing don't start until you both agree you know where you're going.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Walking Sunday morning, I saw a homeless man standing at a busy street corner. People were passing him by. It was a cloudy out, and the coldest day yet this autumn. He wore a dirtied white long-sleeved t-shirt, white khakis, and hiking boots. He stood, upright, stably shifting his weight from one foot to the other at a tempo of a stroll, but without swaying his upper body, lending a sense of mental surety, and he had drawn his arms inside his shirt. He was rubbing to keep warm. I pulled out 1000yen.
"For any little help this could give you." I said. He looked at me, then at the bill, and I stuck it in his pocket before he decided to pull his hands out of his shirt to accept it.
"Thank you." he said.
I bowed lightly, and walked home.