On the Absence of Alternatives


(NEW YORK, Cubao) This is the REAL NYC: concrete jungle where nightmares are made up. (Photo sourced from the World Wide Web.)

(NEW YORK, Cubao) This is the REAL NYC: concrete jungle where nightmares are made up. (Photo sourced from the World Wide Web.)

Ever since the new traffic lights were installed along Katipunan Avenue, I’ve stopped driving through the thoroughfare to travel from my house to the studio. This is because I have to brave a minimum of three stop lights just to make the U-turn at C.P. Garcia coming from the flyover, and the first time I tried it, I discovered that those three lights added an entire hour to a drive that used to take only 20 minutes.

So I started driving down White Plains Avenue instead, making a right at EDSA, then another right at New York Avenue, before navigating the back alleys of K-J, K-8, Anonas, Chico, Xavierville, Esteban Abada and Park 9 Alley, before finally sneaking onto Katipunan Avenue’s southbound lane. It’s a crazy route that makes me feel like a cab driver, and once I get onto New York, all hell tends to break loose with buses trying to park in the middle of narrow, two-lane streets; jeepneys swerving at blind corners at full speed; tricycles materializing out of gutters with still-comatose preschoolers onboard; vendors grilling barbecue and selling buko on non-existent sidewalks; and taxis trying to overtake parking buses and speeding jeepneys while not ramming into tricycles, preschoolers and vendors alike.

I swore more on the road that first week than I did for the last five years combined.

Then this week, I thought I’d try the slightly more scenic and just slightly less convoluted route along the Marikina River instead. This involves driving northbound on C-5 until it becomes FVR Road and then Riverbanks Avenue, before veering sharply left into a narrow alley that takes you onto Marcos Highway, where you drive up until you hit Katipunan Avenue, briefly before making a U-turn underneath the Aurora Boulevard flyover so you can turn right into Esteban Abada. The drive time is a full third less than the EDSA route’s, but if I thought that was crazy, this route was even more insanefor the simple reason that EVERY ONE IS OUT TO GET YOU, INCLUDING THE DODDERING OLD MAN TAKING HIS MORNING CONSTITUTIONAL SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EFFING HIGHWAY.

I swear, if it’s my guardian angel’s job to keep me alive, she’s had her hands full every morning this entire week. (This is probably why taxis in this country have scapulars hanging from their rear view mirrors and why jeepneys have an entire battalion of saints spray painted onto their bodiesit’s all about vehicular insurance of the religious variety.)

Tomorrow, I just might head back to New York.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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