I just received a call on the cell phone from a friend in Manila. And was I extremely happy. Why so? Because it’s like one of those rare times when I’d be the receiving end of the call – most of the time it's the other way around. I developed this I-don’t-care attitude particularly when it comes to phone bills. Who cares about expenses? So long as I get to talk to someone from Manila. And if indeed if cheap tickets to Tel Aviv means a few hundreds, even thousands of pesos, I would gladly buy them just to be able to visit me here.
My friends know this, and they also know that I am forever craving for news about everything, and they also know that I need to constantly remind them that I still exists, that hey, I am still around…just a couple of flight hours away (truthfully…uhm 16 hours or so).
Come on. It’s not like the Internet’s not around. But sadly, emails from my friends come in like trickles. Almost nil. They seem to be just too lazy to write.
Now, going back to my friend’s call. After much talk about the goings-on in Manila, I asked Sandy if she wanted to visit Israel.
I didn’t get a quick answer - I can sense what she was thinking.
“It’s very safe here,” I assured her. “What you see on CNN are isolated cases. You should know that every country in the world has its share of downside when it comes to security. Even the U.S. right?”
“By the way, did you know that while I was at Jerusalem, when I was passing by one of the Via Dolorosa Streets, an Israeli from one of the souvenir shops shouted “Abu Sayyaf” at me? Well he was smiling at the same time - I assumed he meant no harm.”
Still I retorted back,"They’re all gone, nothing to worry about anymore." To which he replied ‘Yofi’ which means great – coupled with a thumb-up sign.
“Well, YOFI yourself! They now associate us to bandidos.” exclaimed Sandy.
“I wouldn’t take it seriously. Like I said, everyone knows every place has its share of rotten terrorizing eggs. That man knows. He knows the local ‘bandidos’. He just wants to tease. I see no problem with that”
“So, are you going to visit Israel…and your dear friend here?”
“Hey, I don’t worry about situation there, if you say the place’s great, then I do have to see it.”
“I would love to go…pack my bags now…if you lend me money for fare. You might know where to get cheap tickets to Tel Aviv Israel.”
‘Uhm…’ it was all I could mutter for a second or two. Then followed another few seconds of silence. Afterwards, I was able to utter some sane words. I gave suggestions that I might try shelling out half of the fare – emphasizing that it will be just a loan. And that she should take El Al, which has cheap flights to Tel Aviv, and so is much less expensive than Lufthansa.
Actually, I really wanted my friend to see Israel.
“Ok, we’ll plan things slowly. No need to rush my trip. Let’s talk later. You should know it’s already 3AM here.” She did reply in a weary tone.
“Ok. Thanks for the call. Good Night.”
“Good Morning, Abu.”