Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Foreign.

He was a huge, heavy man, ponderously walking along Paseo de Roxas.
It was an empty Monday afternoon, and the streets were quiet.
His hands were holding a neatly-folded white piece of paper.
"Excuse me, Miss, but could you point me to Aayalah Avenoo?" he asked, his voice deep, well-bred, and oddly comforting. A driver waiting for his amo was disinterestedly watching, alternately taking drags on his cigarette.
"Yes, you see that traffic light? The traffic light after it is on Ayala Avenue."
The man glowered at the sunlight, scratched his face, and digested the directions.
"So I just walk all over the way there? I need to get to EDSA from Aayalah."
The young lady blinked.
"Why not take the train, Sir? The MRT?"
The leathery creases of the man's face lifted.
"What is the MRT; I don't know what that is and where it is! I just arrived here in Manila," he said in a flood of words; he seemed strained and tired.
He stopped, and was quiet for a moment.
He held out the white piece of paper. A map was sketched there, together with an address.
"I need to walk here, to this address: a building in Annapolis, Greenhills. How do I get there?" the man asked searchingly.
The young lady was astonished; the man was tired, perhaps, and a lapse of words was understandable.
"Sir, you can take the bus there on Ayala Avenue, as it will go straight by Annapolis," she tried once again.
The man was impatient.
"Are you a Filipino?" he inquired brusquely.
"Yes."
"Two days ago, at the Dusit Hotel, a Filipino lady stole my briefcase with everything in it - my wallet, documents, papers, passport, laptop."
She was embarrassed.
"I'm sorry to hear that, Sir."
"That is why I have to walk to this building, the only place that can help me. The police said it will take me 4 1/2 hours of walking," he replied, his dark eyes piercing.
For a moment, she was afraid.
Then she shook it off.
"Thank you anyway, Miss," he was saying, turning away purposefully.
She could only nod.