behind the scenes

Reading and Voyeurism in the City

It’s easy to lose yourself in a city of 11 million people and I find it a pleasant surprise when I recognize a stranger in the crowd. Now I’m not one to romanticize something as casual and insignificant as realizing the girl going down the subway (lol) stairs in front of me happens to be the same girl who stood right next to me on the platform some days ago. I knew it was her without having to look at her face because she was holding a battered copy of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club on both occasions. …Why do I feel like I’m the only one who ever notices these things?

It really cheers me up when I come across people who carry books with them while making their way through the city. The other day, I was on the train en route to work and the girl next to me was so absorbed in the book she was reading that I couldn’t resist being nosy. I leaned in a bit to get a look, haughtily expecting her to be reading some Mitch Albom or Mary Jo Putney kind of hogwash. So I was a bit impressed when I caught a glimpse of the cover: Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain. You don’t expect that from your garden variety Filipino.

Anyways. I realize that I’ve come to enjoy taking the train to work because there’s something addicting about shamelessly watching people, and rush hour provides just the perfect setting for gawking. After more than a month of silently observing my fellow countrywomen, I have come to the conclusion that the general Filipina public is an…interesting bunch. It’s a curious thing, the way some of them smile sheepishly at no one in particular because someone beat them to a spot on the train bench. Or the way this one woman took out her handkerchief and ever-so-casually wiped at her sweaty armpits, as if it were the most natural thing to do in a train full of people. Or how some girls can lay out all their make-up on their laps and (for the lack of a better term) preen themselves in public. What Odds.

I’m suffering from reading ADD again. Last week, I was reading Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn. Over the weekend, I started Neil Gaiman’s Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yesterday morning, I came home to find the best friend’s copy of Candace Bushnell’s Lipstick Jungle on the bedroom floor. And I’m still not done with Marvin Harris’s Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, and Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True (which I started reading MONTHS ago and sort of forgot about when we moved into the condo).

And I’m behind my crossword puzzles.

Today’s “This Gave Me The Happies!” conversation is with Mr Supervisor:

Helga: Why are you here? Aren’t you off today?
Mr Supervisor: I don’t know, because I’m stalking you? HAHAHAHAHA!

(Seriously, though, he came from Bible study.)

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  • Reply Ade July 4, 2007 at 2:23 am

    Wait, wait. Bible study?

    • Reply Helga July 4, 2007 at 3:46 am

      Yes, seriously. How dreamy, right? If only I weren’t an atheist.

  • Reply Dante July 4, 2007 at 2:48 am

    Rampant, scattered reading of actual books is a left-by-the-wayside passion that more people should lose themselves in. If nothing else, it’s a welcome change from the usual immersion of being online, haha.

  • Reply thegreatest July 4, 2007 at 3:57 am

    Andromeda Strain, cool book. You NEED to finish one book before jumping to the next, you’re going to have so many stories mixed up in your head that you’re better off writing your own book. =p

    As a side note, nobody said STUDYING the bible and being an atheist didn’t mix. It’s not called Bible BELIEVING after all. Stalk the bastard a bit better =)

    • Reply Helga July 4, 2007 at 4:18 am

      I know he’s from the south and I know the names of his siblings. Thanks, internets!

      Bah. I cry for my bottle of vodka!

      • Reply thegreatest July 4, 2007 at 6:20 am

        who said you weren’t getting one?

        • Reply thegreatest July 4, 2007 at 6:22 am

          I just realized my name appears with a philippine flag icon. How did it know where I am? Hmm, I now conclude that your blog is intrusive and invades my privacy, bah!



          yes I know all about ip address logging, hehe.

  • Reply kristine July 4, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    you’re not the only one with reading ADD haha… at least you have *actual* books to read, not soulless text about human anatomy and all the nasty things you can do to it. :P

    and. you’re not fat. we’re not fat. everyone else is too thin, they should keep up with us dammit.

    • Reply kristine July 4, 2007 at 8:52 pm

      btw, if you’re fat then i’m a sperm whale.

  • Reply mara July 4, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    Read less, more TV! :)

  • Reply crystal July 5, 2007 at 3:01 am

    I’m in the middle of reading 3 books right now. I have a short attention span. If I don’t finish a book within 1-2 days I more than likely wont.

    And I would probably be the person putting my makeup on while on the train. I put makeup on in my car at stop lights. People always look at me LOL.

  • Reply Beejing July 6, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Ahem!!! I smell something… supervisor? stalking you? happies? wohooo!

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