Scenes from a homecoming

 

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The moment the plane taxied into the runway, the cabin erupted in applause. Flying this airline, I pretty much expected that to happen.  And it amused me to no end. Oh, I was happy we landed safely, there was no doubt about that. But I was pretty sure my fellow passengers were enthusiastically thumping for an entirely different reason. I understood.

The arrival hall of the airport was a complete zoo. The cacophony of conversations, a welcome music to my ears. People jockeying for prime spot by the luggage carousel was a near mirror image of the chaos of people just outside the terminal, waiting for their loved ones to emerge from the glass doors. Nothing out of the ordinary. It has always been like this.  As I walked out the door, a blast of warm air greeted me and enveloped me in a familiar hug. Definitely what I expected. Sweat in the middle of December? Exactly what I was hoping for.

While waiting for my welcome wagon, I spot a familiar figure not too far from where I was standing. A grinning red bumble bee. This guy is everywhere in this country, so I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see him around here. I made a mental note to have a visit with him at some point. My stomach grumbled at the thought. Fine, several visits.

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Then a frantic waving from among the crowd. My Mama. A bit more grey, but otherwise unchanged from the last time I saw her. Healthy. That’s all I could ever ask for. We got into the waiting car, and we were on our way home. Being away for four years, there was a lot to catch up on. Family drama. Neighborhood gossip.  Politics and showbiz. I’m here for all of it. And my mom was more than happy to oblige.

Two hours later and we were still on the road. Sitting in traffic for hours on end. Ah, just like old times. So I sat there looking out the window soaking it all up, taking everything in. The scenes unfolding before me – people doing very familiar things. People who looked very much like me.

A smartly dressed fellow, hanging from a jeepney’s rafter.

“Yosi boys” expertly weaving their way between vehicles.

A worried looking office-type waiting for a ride. Probably late for work. It is past 10 in the morning after all. I would be worried too.

A traffic enforcer looking mighty busy at the street corner, texting.

High rise office towers to my left. Rust-colored rooftops to my right.

Giant billboards peddling goods that range from luxury watches to hair growth solutions. I can’t believe Fanny Serrano still looked exactly the same as he did 10 years ago! That hair growth product must be really good.

Motorcycles on the road, numbering by the hundreds. Okay, now this is something new. The motorcycles have literally taken over every street in the metro. Vietnam better watch its back.

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The sights. The sounds. The smells. The tastes. All of these, I remember. It’s good to be home.

 

………

Words and photos by CRU

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