Month: April 2010

petition

i wish for planets to align themselves in my favor

to grant the wishes i’ve cast to the clouds

i wish for the gods to stir in their slumber

to let my desires fuse with their celestial dreams

i wish for a promise to be forged of strongest steel

to stop it from breaking at each tide’s turning

i wish for truths to juxtapose the lies

to show that the former is no different from the latter

i wish for rains to dive down from the sky in torrents

to carry away the searing heat of rage

i wish for this day to unfold just as special days do

to convince doubting me that the world is looked after by divinity

Breakfast At World Class Persian Kebab

So, yesterday morning I woke up craving intensely for chicken shawarma and fresh fruit shake. I tried to beat down the thought by rationalizing that I am not exactly rolling in dough as of the moment and by willing my mind to think more austere thoughts, i.e., something that involved blank walls and a three-legged bar stool.

Of course, I am not a disciplined thinker, and the more I tried to replace the image of succulent slices of sauteed chicken drizzled in garlicky mayonnaise with that macabre austere picture of a bar stool against a white wall, the more the gluttonous thought rose like a tide in the half-awake part of my mind. In less than three minutes, the dam broke and my brain neurons short circuited, flooding my whole consciousness with the insane chanting of “Shawarma! Shawarma! Shawarma!

Rather than risk a nervous breakdown, I gave in to the inevitable. As I got dressed, the thought of Dr. Jekyll and Mister Hyde tramped in my head, along with the images of that Eastern world delicacy. Ah. Whoever coined the term split personality really made big bucks by setting the standards for what is sane and what isn’t. But this is supposed to be a post about food and not a psychotherapeutic exercise so let’s move on.

I know the one exact place in Metro Manila that serves chicken shawarma at seven thirty-eight in the morning. I headed out, crossed the main highway, and caught a westward jeepney to the World Class Persian Kebab.

I got off at the corner of E. Rodriguez and Tomas Morato Avenues. To my right is the eating place that haunted me in my waking hour. It’s located on the ground floor of a commercial building that also houses Sabroso’s Lechon, Pandelites, Ricky Reyes’ Hair Institute, and SkateOfTheNation.

World Class Persian Kebab (Persian & Mediterranean Cuisine) is the only eating place, by far, that always delivers what I expect when it comes to chicken shawarma.

I let myself in, and the waitstaff smiled in greeting. Already, there were other diners who were enjoying their orders.

The chanting in my head was now replaced by a humming of “shawarmashawarmashawarma…” All right, I’ll feast on Persian cuisine for breakfast. Whatever those chanters in my head were, they erupted into applause and finally fell silent as the waiter took my order.

(I would apologize to the dear readers because I did not have a camera with me to take images of my impulsive breakfast. I’m truly sorry to put a damper on your voyeuristic tendencies. All is not lost, however. For visuals, I borrowed some shots from wheninmanila.com in order to further illustrate the next points in this long-winded soliloquy. These are all nighttime pics.)

I ordered fresh watermelon shake, chicken shawarma on a plate, beef kebab, and extra pita bread. And you’d think that in my cash-strapped state, I could afford to pay for all these? Oh, yes, indeedy! Look at their price list:

The price is another allure that World Class Persian Kebab holds over me. I can have freshly cooked good food for less than Php150, or about US$3.30.

(Visual aids end here, dear readers.)

My order arrived and I can’t help but smile at the presentation. On a square plate, my pita bread was folded demurely to one side. Beside it lay the chicken slices (spottled with cracked peppercorns), and the rest of the plate was piled with slices of assorted vegetables, which consisted of cucumbers, white onions, lettuce, and tomatoes. My extra pita was served separately, warm and nestled in a wicker basket. My beef kebab was set in another plate. The watermelon shake came in a sundae glass, so it’s quite a tall early-morning drink. There’s unlimited garlic mayo sauce so that the diner – such as moi – can drizzle liberal amounts over each scoop of pita, meat, and veggies.

So, after a sigh and a word of thanks to the Universe for the goodness of life, I dug in.

And the food was what I expected. The beef has just the right blend of saltiness and spiciness, with that juiciness that is often missing in some other eating places’ beef dishes.

The pita gave the shawarma a hint of sweetness. The vegetables were crisp and succulent and juicy. The slices of chicken were bursting with flavor. And the garlicky sauce complemented it all.

They use real fruit for the shake, which is something else I appreciate about the place. No synthetic flavors here.

And I ate and drank all of it. By the time I finished my breakfast, the glutton in me was appeased. It was purring like a cat that has found a comfortable sleeping place.

Hmm. Maybe I’d do this often.

***

For those who wish to experience the wonders of World Class Persian Kebab when you happen to be in or around Metro Manila, the place is open 24 hours. If you need the specific address, I would certainly not withhold it from you.

It’s #1 E. Rodriguez St. Avenue (corner Tomas Morato Avenue), Quezon City.

Many thanks to When In Manila for the photos.

A Quick Gab With Your Friendly Cafe Proprietor

I meant to post a long-winded treatise about the correlation of masterpieces and the inebriated state. However, I’m cold sober so I can’t get the thing to sound right.

Anyway, just thought I’d share my musings and vibes. It seems that a lot of changes are coming along. Good changes. And I am excited about them. Will again have stories to tell in the coming days… those that actually feature some other assorted human characters and not only yowling members of the Feline genus.

I am still thwarted by more pressing concerns in my attempts at organizing, alphabetizing, and categorizing by weight and substance every post that I have in this blog. And I am happier for it. This quarter, I will try to ignore my obsessive-compulsive tendencies and really just go with whatever’s blowing and flowing and rolling. And, no, I am not on an acid trip because I sound so optimistic to some of the regulars who probably are used to the generally misery-loves-company writing in the Broken Coffee Cafe.

Can’t say much for now… I’m still trying to decipher the message left by the universe on tea leaves and bird droppings.

So, cheerio and all that mush… Come by again soon. Drinks’ll probably be on the house this weekend.

Taxi Love

“Enjoy your lunch date,” I told the taxi driver as he handed me my change.

“You bet I will,” he answered with a hearty laugh as I got out of the taxi, my grocery bags in tow.

He backed out of my street and honked his horn when he caught a glimpse of me waving at him. Then the taxi was borne along the streaming traffic and I was again alone on the sidewalk with a story to tell.

A few minutes earlier,  I was standing under the searing heat of an El Nino noon for nearly an hour, trying to get a ride home after some quick grocery shopping. I hailed taxi after taxi but each one was occupied. I gave up that stoop when I realized that it was the Bermuda Triangle of unoccupied taxis in there and lugged my bags of nourishment, junk food and laundry detergent a hundred meters away from the mall’s entrance. Aha! A taxi was sitting idle in front of a No Parking sign. There was no passenger. As I approached, the driver glowered at me from the rear view mirror. I noticed that he was texting somebody on his cellphone. With the straps of the grocery bags digging into my palms and the heat of the sun making me hungrier and homicidal by the second, I was ready to give a kick to the taxi’s side and make a dent on the paintjob if the driver wouldn’t take me on as fare.

As expected, the driver’s tone was unwelcoming when he asked me where I’m headed.

“Bates Street,” I said, really not at all enthused. I was checking my balance already, centering my weight so I could aim a kick at the side of the car if the driver said no.

I was taken aback when the driver’s face lit up. “Great! Hop on in!” I had second thoughts then but my stomach growled, so I got in.

“I’m meeting someone for lunch,” the driver was smiling. He waved the cell phone.  “I was a bit worried that you’re going the other way but Bates Street is right before Ringo Avenue.”

As we waited for a light to turn green so we could make a left, he babbled on.

“It’s my wife, you see,” he said. “And it’s our anniversary today.”

“You’re meeting her in your favorite restaurant,” the uninterested me said, vaguely wondering where the confession was headed.

“Uh-huh.” The lights changed and we fell in with the other vehicles cruising the highway. “First chance I get to treat her.” Something was amiss, however. I could attribute the sixth sense to my constant viewing of crime and mystery shows because I now paid attention to the driver.

“Your wife… Hmmm. So, how long have you been married?” I just noticed that he wasn’t wearing a ring. He had no paunch that generally plagues the married male. He looked carefree – young. Reckless, even. Not burdened by the worries and travails of married life.

I think I got him there. The driver fell silent. It was a few moments later when he spoke up again. “We’re not actually married,” he began.

“But she was my girlfriend in high school. She was a junior then and I was a senior. Maybe it was because we were young and wanted to explore… We eloped. Both our parents looked for us, and when they discovered where we were staying, they convinced us to go home – separately. We were both terrified and guilt-ridden. Our parents forced us to agree that our schooling should be the priority.

“We didn’t see each other after that. I went off to college, got a girl pregnant, and ended up marrying the girl because of the child. It wasn’t love. My wife knew that I didn’t love her fully. But we did have another kid.

“I still wonder what became of her – the girl I eloped with during high school. Then I learned that she was already married but they didn’t have any kids. I also learned that her husband hit her on occasion. But I could not do anything about it. We both already had separate lives.

“My wife probably sensed that my heart could never be entirely hers, so we separated three years ago. She took our kids with her and they now live with her parents in the province. Me, I’ve been a taxi driver since after college graduation. Couldn’t do much anyway, with the course I chose.

“It might have been fate, I don’t know. I was off duty one morning. The night before, I was in a party with friends and slept in a buddy’s boarding house. It was around eight o’clock the next morning and I figured that I could just catch a train home; an LRT station was nearby anyway. In the station, I bumped into someone rushing past. Bags and personal belongings flew. When I looked at the person I bumped into, it was her. Twenty years passed and I often wondered how she’s doing; now, here she was again. While collecting her things off the floor, we only said hello and a cursory “Kamusta?” Then she had to catch a train going the other way for her office. I would have followed her but I reeked of stale cigarettes and fermented brew. The next day and the days after that, I hung around that particular station at 8 o’clock – whether I had taxi rounds or not – hoping I’d run into her again. It’s just recently that I learned that she goes to work before 7 am and that, on the day we bumped into each other,  she was running very, very late.

“I wanted so much to talk to her, ask her how she’s doing. But I was afraid her husband might discover who I was, a link to her past. I still know their home phone number, and I know that she still lived there. Finally, when my vigil at the train station yielded nothing, I gathered the courage to ring her up at their family place. I was so surprised when they actually gave the phone to her.

“We talked and I learned that she and her husband were already separated for five years. She wished to see me, she said. I declined, knowing full well what will happen when we were alone together.

“I called her up almost every evening when she arrived from work. Even with the cell phone, I still called her in their home phone and we’d talk for hours. It was like having a phone pal again. Three months, and our communication was merely by telephone and text messages.

“I would have been content in our arrangement. We get to keep in touch over the phone. Yes, I ached to see her but I do not know if we have a chance of being together. After all, our history as a couple was short-lived and was filled with guilt and terror. I didn’t want that happening again.

“But she was the brave one. She arranged to be very drunk one evening somewhere in Morato. She called up and said she needed a taxi to take her home. Uh-oh. I had a bad feeling about it… Like the day our parents discovered us when we were still young.  I asked a fellow driver to pick her up but he sensed what was going on and advised me to get it over with.

“When I picked her up, she was cold sober. And she knew where our relationship was headed. This all happened almost two years ago… It would be exactly this day when she called up asking for a pickup. We were never separated since.”

Wow.

I never truly acknowledged before that love stories in books and films are inspired by real life. Here’s the proof – right inside a taxi that made a left turn to Bates Street and halted in front of a rust-colored gate.

The driver drove off, beaming.

Wow.

What’s your own love story?