From Madras to Manila

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Live in Manila! Two Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are coming to Manila!
To sing some of their greatest hits!!!

What could be better than having one of the greatest bands of all time come touring to your city?

[Note 1: this is not a rhetorical question, meaning you are supposed to answer it]
[Note 2: if you don't know who the Beach Boys are then please read this carefully before answering]

The answer is - having all the original members of the band present and voting at the occassion.

A Pair of Beach Boys

I didn't know till today that the Beach Boys have been dwindling in number over the years due to one reason or another (untimely death, disease, power struggles and other ailments that so far were restricted to third-world nations) and those that survive seem to be touring all over the world as part of separate shows.

It must be a logistical nightmare for tour organizers, kind of like scheduling trains on the London Underground or something. Imagine the mess they could get into:

"Ladies and gentlemen, those were the Beach Boys with their evergreen hit - Good Vibrations!
And now we have another special band with us here tonight. Put your hands together for the ONE, the ONLY, BEACH... err, um... boys?"

They probably use special software.

Anyway, the nub of it is that we will have two-fifths of the original band, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, here in Manila along with a motley collection of supporting (no, not literally, even though Mike and Bruce are getting on in years) musicians on October 7th.

For all you die-hard fans who've somehow missed the hundreds of ad spots on TV, tickets are available at SM and priced in whole-number multiples of your monthly salary.

See you at the show!
Or not.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Books for Less!

An essential part of settling in was finding a good bookshop.

We cannot do without reading and were actually very worried that the prices of books might not match that of India. Among the 'essentials' that we packed were cartons and cartons of books to tide us over till our next visit to India. Of course this was based on the premise that Manila might be a vast wasteland where survival is key and books are on par with solitaire rings...

Anyway, we're happy to report that bookshops are a dime a dozen and the average Filipino seems to read much more than the average English-educated Indian. We actually found several bookshops offering 20-30% discounts on books - the National Book Store chain is one of them.

But Nothing Beats This

We - or rather, Sandi - discovered this little chain of bookshops titled 'Books for Less', which makes up for it's rather unimaginative title by making an awesome collection of sparingly-used books available for anywhere from 30-90% less than the price of a new edition! And not just any old junk but the kind that can make you throw yourself with cries of joy on them.

I've found some excellent business titles (Crossing the Chasm is one) and Sandi has managed to collect literally bushels of obscure titles that she claims have been 'well-received by the literati', whatever that means.

Check them out - there's one in Ortigas (Quezon City), one on Valero (Makati) and another four outlets or so I gather. You'll probably see us there, spending the last of our food money on 'The Secret Life of the Garden Slug'.

First Impressions

Manila is quite different from what I had imagined it to be.

Based on the second- and third-hand information I had from family and friends - a typical conversation would go “Well, I heard it from Sheetal, who says her friend dated someone who had heard of the Philippines from his roommate who had a Lonely Planet guidebook to the Philippines” - I had expected it to be either:

(a) Squalid and unsafe, full of slums and corruption where the common man keeps body and soul together by playing guitar and dancing the Salsa or

(b) A happening expat hotspot with glass and steel skyscrapers reaching for the skies, apartments the size of football fields and a nightlife that refuses to end (work being a recreational activity)

Having spent a few days here, I can now say with authority that it is:

(c) Mumbai

(Come to think of it, the flight from Singapore does seem to make an unusually prolonged turn to get to a place that is effectively on a straight line path from there. Am I missing something here...?)

Are we in the Matrix?