I love reading Yann Martel’s short stories—although they’re anything but short. He is, for those of you unfamiliar with the author, is the writer of Life of Pi, an awesome book about a boy and a tiger set adrift on a boat in the open ocean. His style is full of whimsy and what I’d like to call floating language, not in the same way as Murakami is whimsical; whereas the latter is like a sunny afternoon where the quiet pierces the monotony, the former is like a lazy Sunday spent outside in the sun.
A long time ago, this was me. From the Wanderlust movie website.
Last Sunday, while having breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and waiting for the 7AM mass, I went through one of his stories called “The Time I Heard the Private Donald J. Rankin String Concerto with One Discordandt Violin, by the American Composer John Morton”. The story sees the main character stumbling upon a dilapidated concert hall in the slum area of Washington, D.C.
He then proceeds to watch the titular Private Donald J. Rankin string concerto (with one discordandt violin!) on a whim. The concert hall’s set for demolition, but that doesn’t stop the Korean war vets from holding this small concert. The attendees are mostly veterans as well, and for refreshments during the intermission, the organizers serve beer.
I liked the story (so far, anyway; I’m not through with it yet), and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia. A decade ago, I used to fumble around Manila whenever I was in between classes, and found hole-in-the-wall places not unlike the one depicted in Martel’s short story. I “discovered” the very branch of Dunkin Donuts in front of PGH back when it was still a dilapidated old thing, and wrote many a short story while I was there.
I even ended up dragging a friend to some of the oddest events (a concert in Makati, an album launch in Malate, so on) because of this very same curiosity, this very same wanderlust. I was, in very many ways, gala, a Pinoy term that connotes a well-traveled man, although in a manner that isn’t so classy or polite.
I don’t do that anymore, though. Nowadays, I have responsibilities. I have work most of the time, and when I’m done with work, there are other things to do. There’s an ever-growing laundry list of things to work on, which does include laundry. I’m also slowly (but surely) losing my hair, and sometimes, the best way to spend a Friday evening is passed out in bed after a shot of gin.