Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Sunday Gatherings

Woke up at five in the afternoon Sunday, and started my day with my usual caffeine and nicotine fix. This reverse body clock is getting to be too much of a habit. If I could afford to, I should relocate to the West.

First up was going to Marikina for the birthday party of my friend Serge's dad. Also there was Manny, my Hare Krishna pal. Serge and Manny are part of my high school barkada.

Slicing Eyeballs

Serge recently underwent corrective eye surgery, that mondo expensive procedure (around Php50,000, including doctor's fees) where they bombard your eyeballs with lasers. Serge described in detail the 20-minute procedure, where they mechanically hold your eyelids open, mark your eyeballs with a pen, and laterally slice the outer layer (the cornea, I think) like a bread bowl. After the laser assault, the outer layer gets folded back and held in place by a contact lens. At first, eyesight was hazy, like that of being underwater. But Serge noted that everything cleared out after a few hours.

Over the next few days after the surgery, he had to don protective goggles to prevent dust from landing on his eyes. Then there's the special eyedrops. His minor complaint was that his right eye was not as clear as the perfect left, but the fact that he didn't need his ridiculously thick glasses anymore made everything worth his while. He still plans, however, to consult with his ophthalmologist on the imbalance.

Manny, who also wears high-grade specs, said that the expense was worth it, considering that one would find himself changing eyeglasses on a regular basis, and would rack up Php50,000 anyway. But Manny's a hematologist, and charging professional fees from a fellow doctor is considered unethical. So if he went for the procedure, he'd be spending far less.

Veggie Fix

Since Manny's religion-prescribed diet doesn't consist of anything of animal, I was delighted to find a lot of veggies at the buffet table. I haven't had a lot of vegetables lately, so I sort of gorged on plant life that night.

After dinner, I spoke with Manny and his brother about the Hare Krishna religion, asking about what they're all about and how they differed from other major religions. I have always wanted to do a graphic novel on spirituality, so getting information about a relatively obscure faith was an eye-opener.

It was before I had left the party when I found out that everything on the buffet table, including the "meat", was vegetable-based. The meals were catered by Manny's family. The veggie-meat, while a bit dry, still felt like real beef. Manny said that they wanted to make their relatively healthier diet more accessible, and it clicked with the mostly elderly crowd at the party.

To and Fro

From Marikina, I went back to Ortigas Center where Jam was having her birthday party at Pier One. From the veggie fix came the beer. (Barley's still a plant, isn't it?) With her were her call center buddies, her mom and her brother's family. As more people arrived, I was reminded of that one time I celebrated my birthday and invited my college barkada, my high school barkada and my co-workers at the time. Bad idea, since I found myself moving from table to table to kitchen and back. That was pretty much the same case in Jam's party, but I figured she was more used to that set-up than I was. Unlike me, she's more a social creature.

By near midnight, my mom texted from the cemetery, and off I went to Marikina again. To those who don't already, my family had been spending every Halloween night at Loyola Memorial for the past 14 years. The remains of my dad, granddad, and uncle are buried there.
Unlike recent years, Loyola wasn't too crowded, and the cemetery authorities get better every year in making sure the entire affair was organized and orderly. My sister and I had a light chuckle at one point when the public address system blared, "Kung sino po ang nakakita kay Patty Alfonso, siya po ay nawawala." Poor girl - they don't even know what she looked like.

Since me and my brother already live far from home, the annual cemetery trip is that one chance when the core family can really get together and catch up with news on our personal lives. Despite the nature of the environs, the cemetery trips are usually relaxing and stress-free. There's real rest there, pun intended.

I left the cemetery at nine in the morning, and crashed as soon as I got home. Now, it's back to work again.

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