Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Lost at the Food Fair

Yesterday our landlord showed up on our doorstep around 11am to collect the rent. Normally that's not a problem, but yesterday was Labor Day, and Trien and I were just getting ready to go out. It was a little disconcerting, but luckily I had withdrawn the money the day before. I've learned that he expects to be paid the first of the month, no matter what's going on. He is not an ogre about it, though. If we don't have the money on that day, he understands. He is a nice guy, very friendly and helpful. After I paid him, he offered us a ride into town.

We went downtown, over by the Prince Edward School, to find the charity food fair. Our landlord can speak English pretty decently, but his understanding of it leaves something to be desired. So while we kept trying to tell him to stop, he kept on going and turning through all the side streets. Eventually he got the idea that we were where we wanted to be, and let us out.

We got out near this interesting looking building. Trien said that it was abandoned. I said it couldn't be, because it was nicely painted and maintained. Besides, there was an old guy sitting at the window, watching me take the picture!

Anyhow, Trien insisted she knew where the food fair was. I knew that meant she thought she knew where it was, but in reality, had no idea. There was a map on the flier she had with her, but she was looking at it upsidedown. That meant we ended up walking in the opposite direction to where we should be going.

After a few minutes of walking around and getting nowhere, she decided to do what she should have done before we started, which was to phone someone and ask for directions. After she did, we started walking in the right direction. We met a couple of the other Filipinas coming back, and they told us how to get there.

I was a bit pissed at having to walk around in the heat not knowing where we were going, instead of going right to where it was. Once we got there, though, I was eager to see the results of all the work she had done yesterday. She and Ate Hermi, and Ate Karing, and others had worked hard the day before to make Laksa, and I was eager to try it.

Note: Ate (pronounced AH-tay) is the polite term that Filipinos use to refer to an older woman. It literally means "older sister". If it an elderly woman, then you refer to her as Nanay (pronounced NAHN-neye), or Nay for short, which means "Mommy". Filipinos would never think of referring to someone older than them by their first name alone. They also would never refer to someone in a position of authority by their first name, or by using Mr. or Mrs. For a woman in authority, they call her Ma'am, like Ma'am Betty. For a man, they call him Sir. When I worked as the Academic Director of an English school in Cebu, I was always referred to as "Sir John". That made me feel uncomfortable, like I should be coming to work on a horse wearing a suit of armor, ready to slay dragons. Which, in a manner of speaking, was what I did. Maybe someday I will tell you about it.

As I said in my previous post, all the effort was worth it, because it was the best Laksa I ever had, made from all fresh ingredients, with no short cuts taken. Because of that, all was forgiven. Not that I could stay mad at my wife for long anyway. She is too sweet for me to do that. Besides, the person I would be hurting the most if I did that would only be myself!

Here's a picture of two of the cooks at the food fair, Ate Hermi, (the senior Filipina in Taiping. She's been married and living here for twenty six years) on the left, and Trien on the right.

Finally, I leave you with a picture of this colorful little insect. It looks like a butterfly, and flies like one, but the head doesn't look like one. With the wings folded, it looks more like a beetle. If anyone out there knows what it is, please leave me a comment and let me know!