Finding Nemo

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nearly Getting Duffiled

In Paul Theroux's Great Railway Bazaar, at one point the guy sharing his compartment steps off the train in Italy for a moment to get some lunch.  Without warning, the train lurches forward and takes off to the next city.  There is no whistle, no conductor yelling "all aboard" in Italian.  Theroux waits for his companion, Duffil, to suddenly appear running and jump onto the train.  But Duffil never appears, he is waiting in some queue somewhere perhaps, holding a fresh loaf of bread and whistling.

Theroux looks at Duffil's clothes and packages that were left on the train and muses that it was lucky that it didn't happen to him!  After all, he was just about to step off and buy something himself.  Poor Duffil was heading all the way to Turkey on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and now his trip was doomed; he hadn't even gotten out of central Europe.

Theroux called it "Getting Duffiled."

Just in the nick of time
With this in mind, I decided to make sure I caught my flight back to Manila.  My foot was just a tiny bit better, and I decided against all common sense to head to Nepal anyway.  Maybe, somehow, I could do a bit of trekking after all.  I packed up, and gingerly walked back along Bounty Beach to the next beach where you caught rides on the bancas back to Cebu.  When I got there, I looked around and finally noticed people on a boat down the beach.  They were gathering the ladder and pushing off.  I yelled, and yelled again.  Finally I whistled and hollered "Wait!!"  One of the guys must have heard me, I saw someone waving their arms.  I gathered up my pack and ran/limped, just making the boat.  I had escaped the Duffiling, and felt it was a good omen.

Warning: don't be tempted to buy ice cream
Back on Cebu, I boarded the bus, and after about 3 hours there was a brief stop.  I got a snack, ate some potato chips.  But it was hot, and I decided to look for something cold.  There was some ice cream and I was about to get in a long line to buy it.  But something told me to double-check the bus and when I looked outside it was pulling away.  I dropped the ice cream and ran into the street to wave it down, even smacking the side of the bus.  Mercifully it stopped, the door opened.  The driver looked at me disdainfully.  My seat was gone, I had to beg to get it back.  The other Westerners looked the other way, they had known I was missing the bus and hadn't said anything.  Thanks guys!  But it was OK, I had escaped a 2nd Duffiling.

Made it!
Finally, at the shoddy Manila International Airport our plane was delayed for an hour.  So I decided to wander around and found a nice coffee shop.  But something told me to pack up a little early, and so 30 minutes before the new boarding time I wandered casually back to the gate.  The area was empty, the lady on the microphone was announcing "Neermo Tylor, please come to board area immediately."  I announced myself and her face grew alarmed.  "Hurry!!"  I hopped down the stairs and found a last packed bus about to take off, it opened its doors for me and left the gate.  I looked over where I had just been, and as we sped off I saw another Western couple emerge, waving their arms frantically.  They had been Duffiled!

Somehow, through sheer dumb luck, I had avoided 3 strokes of the Duffil.

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