08 December 2005

Odd Time Of The Year

When in tropical climes, in non-Christian countries, one doesn’t notice the months changing or the advent of The Holiday Season. So why is the local supermarket decked out with a giant, fake Christmas tree; a mechanical, laughing, anorexic Santa; and why does it have carols blasting from the sound system? Or why where they putting up ornaments and green tinsel in the telephone company store? And then there is downtown, where one of the 5-star hotels has plaster snow and trees with big red balls all along the side of the building. It is all so strange.

Usually, it simply seems bizarre and very out of place. But I was in the supermarket two days ago, having just run in from a rain storm. The sky through the front windows was grey, and the air conditioner was on high. As I wheeled past the MSG lane, I heard “Oh Come All Yee Faithful” resonating throughout the store. The weather and the music must have sparked some primal memory, because my whole being felt the touch of the holidays. And I am talking about the good feeling, not the commercialized insanity it has become. I caught myself quietly singing along to “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”. I must admit that I love the traditional carols, probably because I hear them so rarely, and I enjoyed the few minutes of musical escapism.

I can’t say the same for the CD my hair stylist opted to play when I was in there last week. It was all that horrid, kitschy, crap, like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa”, sung by children, in Vietnamese.

Along with all the out-of-place symbolism, it has been an odd month paying, or trying to pay the bills. For some reason the electric bill, in my small apartment where I never turn on the A/C, was outrageously high. Higher than my friends in a 4 story house. My phone bill was also another shocker, 95% of which was for internet use. The damn dial-up is not a flat rate. I pay for it by the minute, and since it is so slow, I probably spend double the time I would spend if I had DSL. Which, by the way, I hope to get before January, but that is a whole different story.

I give up trying to pay the rent. Last month, I had to call the landlord six times before they finally came and got the money. So far this month, I have only called once, and am now leaving it up to them. I don’t particularly like having the rent money sitting in my apartment, but it really is safe here. I tried to get a bank check but it isn’t possible. The only people who can get checks are business owners. Everything is done in cash. I think the worst part is having to keep my house spotless because I never know when the owners will call and come over. Or maybe it’s worse thinking that they’ll come over on the weekend, which is scared time to me.

Then there is the opera singer who takes early morning and evening walks. I can’t quite tell if it is just a good voice, or a very good voice. Definitely, it carries. I can hear him blocks away. Today it was at 6 in the morning. I looked out the window to watch him as he strolled and belted out tunes. Again, I can’t tell what language it is, but I don’t think it is English. This time, however, I noticed that he was stopping at the house builders shacks. I ran to another window to get a better view. He was singing and had his hand extended to them. It was then that I spied what I believe to be a bible in his hand. Of course, I am on the 8th floor, so I could be wrong, but it did seem to make sense. I will have to further investigate this one.

I plan to take the bike out for its maiden voyage this weekend to explore the backwaters of the neighborhood. I am sure I will find more oddities, which is a major reason for living the life I do.

Peace on earth, good will towards men and women.