First week and Miscellaneous thoughts

Twitter

I’ve been seeing so many unusual things, and having so many unique experiences that I’ve decided to finally take to twitter so I can quickly record and share my thoughts without having to put together a blog post.

Here’s a link if you’d like to follow along with it: http://twitter.com/#!/Sahil1224

Send me your twitter names so I can follow along with your lives as well!

Miscellaneous thoughts on Filipino life

Well, now that I’ve more or less caught up on the blog with the basics of my life over here figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to maintain some sort of momentum so I don’t find myself falling too far behind again.

My first week living here has been quite the experience. I’ve pretty much finished all of my kitchen training at Outback, with Monday being my last day in there. My families owned restaurants pretty much my entire life, and for the last 4 years or so I’ve always worked on the floor and pretty much know how things operate on that side, but had never worked in a kitchen before. Really provided me some insight and perspective with how things work on the inside of restaurants, and believe I’ll be able to apply a great deal of the things I learned over here back home at our restaurants!

I literally did everything in the kitchen, from peeling and chopping carrots and cucumbers, to manning the grill and making some delicious steaks on the grill. In the last year or two, I had started cooking for myself and really enjoyed doing so. With that said, I had never really learned how to cook. I would always just sort of do it. Was really cool being taught how to do everything properly, and learning all of these random, interesting things about food. The week only solidified my passion for making delicious food, and really looking forward to getting back to that when I get back home to our new house in College park!

As crazy as it was working in a kitchen, I think the crazier part was getting to know the people I was working with. Since I’m over here alone, it really has been a straight up cultural immersion. I was having this discussion earlier at dinner this evening, and I was induced in what I’m going to dub as “the Filipino fakeout.” The fakeout being that upon coming to this area, and interacting with Filipino’s over here for the first time, everything seems to be rather Americanized as they all speak English and the area in Makati looks somewhat modern. You quickly realize that is only a façade to some extent, as the people and their culture is so completely different than our own. It’s been very interesting getting to hear about these people’s life stories and the backgrounds from which they hail. It really is a 3rd world country, and the way the people think, behave, eat, and interact is so different than what I am familiar with.

From my experience so far, the Filipinos have all been extremely friendly, hospitable and humble people. Along with that, they all seem like very intelligent people, and it pains me to think about what all of these great people would be able to accomplish given the proper education and resources. Although I consider myself to be friends with the workers, i have an unusual relationship with my co-workers to some extent. The strangeness is caused by many factors, including that I am younger than all of them, am from America and am being trained as a manager, and eat meals at the Outback in which the servers wait upon me and call me sir all the time. It’s created an interesting dynamic where they all respect me and call me sir, but I feel so weird about it because I consider them friends and am actually younger than them.

The country is like 20 years behind the US, well at least musically. I’ve been resident DJ in the kitchen, and after hearing them blast all the old jams from the early 90s my first couple days in the kitchen I decided to follow suit. They go wild when I put on stuff like Sugar Ray, Ace of Base, and any boy band you can think of. I don’t think theres any way I’ll be able to forget dancing to “Sweet dreams are made of this” by the grill with my Filipino friends. After all these years, seems like the gaylist I created in high school (A compilation of some of the “gayest” and most fun songs to dance to fromyesteryear) is finally paying off haha.

Call me opinionated if you’d like, but I think the Filipino food that i have tried so far has not been nearly as good as advertised. The cuisine revolves around pork (Which I’m not a huge fan of) and after seeing that pig’s head, I’m unsure of whether I would ever like to resume eating pork anyhow haha. Along with that, being that i have over deceloped taste buds and only like food when it is lathered in sriracha or some other form of spicy foods, i have found the few dishes i’ve tried severely lacking in flavor and spice, and as a generalization just haven’t been a fan. This is proving to be a serious problem while at work, as the staff makes like 3 different Filipino meals a day for themselves. Naturally, being the warm, hospitable people Filipinos are, they one by one try and get me to try EVERY single one of these dishes. I do not want to offend my co-workers by not trying the meals, and they seem to take pride in the dishes so it is rather awkward that i have not been jumping to try them. I’m rapidly running out of excuses, and at some point they’re probably going to realize that I just don’t like there cuisine, but don’t think they’ve caught on just yet haha so we’ll see what happens. Currently, they’re working on getting me to try this extremely popular dish called Balut, which is basically an egg, that actually has the dead baby chicken inside soo we’ll see how that one goes as well haha.

As I’m the only one over here, opposed to me being able to share my shock at some of things I’m seeing (See pig head in post below), the Filipino’s actually look at me like I’m the strange one for not eating pigs heads on a regular basis and things of that nature haha. They also gossip soo much at the restaurant, and I’m asked about 4 times a day if I have a girlfriend. Then, I’m asked about 10 times why I don’t have a girlfriend as people are shocked and don’t believe me.

Also, very strange eating meals by yourself, but I’ve gotten rather used to it and now find them to be somewhat peaceful. On that same note, I’m so glad that I’ve been able to get free meals at the restaurant, as that has allowed me to save so much money as I really haven’t spent anything so far over here. Very good news, as I’m completely broke as of this moment.

The week was actually rather tiring, as I’m working 6 days a week, pretty much from 10am to around 9:30 pm with one small break in between. By the end of the week, the work in the kitchen had gotten rather repetitive, and the hours rather long. Since the only places that I saw were the ones I passed on my walk home from work and the very same walk back to work, I found myself in this constant state of boredom.

Usually upon completing a shift at work at home, I’m excited to get off and see friends or family, but over here I‘ve just been hanging out with my laptop for the most part so I didn’t really have anything I was excited about, and found myself becoming rather frustrated and feeling weird. I concluded the strange feelings must have been the symptoms of being homesick a bit for the first time in my life, and during this long travel journey I’ve been on lately.

I had been constantly telling myself that I was ridiculous to not be enjoying every moment over here, and it seems that the positive self-psychology, aided by some great skype talks with Kevin, Caitlin and the familia, along with an extremely relaxing, and much needed day off did the trick as I’m feeling fantastic once more.

Much needed day off and some Fascinating new friends!

I had a lovely time kicking back and relaxing today, and thoroughly enjoyed my off day. Despite being awoken at 9am for breakfast, and then once more at 11am by housekeeping (Really should have put up that damn do not disturb sign) I managed to get some solid sleep in. Skyped with the padres, and lazed around all day before finally heading out around 5pm. Explored the lovely Greenbelt shopping centre area in which I live a bit, and then decided to grab dinner at a thai restaurant. I had eaten at outback literally every other meal, so this was a welcome change.

As per usual, I was sitting to eat by myself at a table. Two gentleman were seated at the table to my left a few moments after I had been seated, and I struck up a conversation. We began talking, and hit it off immediately. I ended up talking to them for nearly two hours and it was great to finally have some solid dinnertime conversation. More importantly, they were both fascinating people.

There’s so much more to it, but in summary:

One gentleman, Marty, was an American who had been working in the Philippines for a couple years working with the central bank, and has traveled to 112 countries!

The other gentleman, Joel, was a Canadian consultant who was teaching people how to teach central banks how to run their countries more effectively or something ridiculously impressive along those lines. They asked me if I would like to join them for drinks after dinner, and so grabbed a beer with them at the outdoor café next door.

We traded stories, and I feel like I learned so much from just being in their presence and hearing about their travels and the nuggets of wisdom they continually imparted on me. Already on this trip, I’ve met so many fascinating people and believe that these experiences, and the lessons I will learn from them will prove to be invaluable to me in the future.

The day off was exactly what I needed, and can’t wait to see where the rest of this journey shall take me. Shit, how do these posts keep getting so damn long?! Apologies, I’ll work on keeping em shorter.

Anyways, Cheers!

-Sahil

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