Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Superficialities of Urbania

This may be a bad start for an article, but yes, my grandmother makes exquisite fried rice. Of course there’s nothing really exquisite about fried rice, but this is my article.

I admit to being a more-than-willing benefactor of the modernities of Urbania: cell phones, instant cappuccino, smoke-belching transport systems that rob you of your sanity, remote-controlled-everythings. More than once I’ve contemplated the usual temptations of the middle class citizen, and I know there’s more to life than having load or weekend movies at the mall—but hey, I’m twenty-two. I’m supposed to be materialistic. After all, the world has enough beauty queens campaigning for world peace. Despite the expensive upkeep, these supposed-to-be luxuries have become prerequisites to survival. Or so we think.

While having one of those rare, rejuvenating opportunities at the province (where my grandmother makes exquisite fried rice), I had a chance to think things over. It’s nice to know you can think about other things aside from incident reports, exam results, vaccinations, and the world according to Grey’s Anatomy.

Halfway through my private musings, I had to start a fire to cook supper. My grandmother uses “kalan” (a form of pottery that uses coal to cook food); she lets the gas range rust to death for fear it might burn her house down. This suited me just fine; after all, it’s been quite a while. The sight of dark wood dancing with fiery sparks of red illuminated the dusky twilight. It reflected the glow from my grandmother’s tobacco, the strands of gray on her temple visible with each flicker. In the distance, the music of crickets cavorting filled the musty air.You must understand, this is a refreshing break from the afternoon traffic jam I contend with every day.

In the morning, it took me a while to realize that instead of the sound of my Nokia alarm, and the usual banging of kitchen pots, I was awakened by the cock-a-doodle-do and warm morning sunlight peeping through my window. Adding to that wonderful wake-up call was the realization that it was a Saturday and the hospital was nowhere in sight!

What an intermission from the superficialities of modernization, native chicken instead of microwave dinners, Cat Stevens instead of MTV incantations, fresh air instead of my roommate’s farting spree. I’d rather indulge in quiet walks through fields of green than count the cracks on sidewalks or Volkswagens in the highways of the metro. The only traffic that occurs is when black ants break the line of the red, and fistfights only come in handy between matchbox spiders.

Sometimes the simple rural life appears more charming and subtly uncomplicated than the amenities and sophistication of remote-controlled Urbania. But we, the predecessors of the new age often regard the old ways as backward, primitive or simply cheap.

Lying in my hammock and finishing my Formalin-free buko … I wonder, would I ever survive without cell phones, Friendster and Facebook accounts, or hot-water showers? Looking back on the last few days, I think I just did. Would you?

Now, how about some of that exquisite fried rice?

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