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Chaos Is Normal

Chaos Is Normal
As soon as we landed in Manila from Singapore, accompanying President Kalam on his three-nation Southeast Asia tour, we saw chaos unlimited on the city's streets, a complete contrast to the stifling orderliness of Singapore. With pits, potholes and traffic jams so thick, we wondered if people ever reached their destinations in this city. If there were no motorcycle outriders making way for our carcade, I think we would have spent all three days on the road between the airport and hotel! Yet, there was an endearing charm and at-home feel about the place.

A curious mix of zest and indifference marks the people here. Public transport jeepneys (a transvestite creation between a mini bus and a jeep) with surreal images painted all over their body and blaring music from within, lend a touch of magic realism to the old Spanish colony. The jest of little kids selling tobacco at traffic junctions; holidaying crowds on the seafront restaurants and the huge glow signboards on rows and rows of dance bars complete the picture of a vibrant, fun-loving city with an infectious warmth. The warmth seemed to have touched the president too; he acknowledged it with poetic lines at the very first official function in a nursing college. He called smiling Filipino nurses "angels" and compared their profession to "soothing music". He also recounted the voices of blossoming flowers in his garden's pathway.

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