Friday, May 02, 2008
10:58 PM |
Character Sketches No. 3: The Old White Man on a Bicycle
Nobody—except probably the family he belongs to—knows where he comes from. Is he Australian? Swiss? French? Belgian? German? British? There are so many of them here, expatriates all, most of them of a certain age that marks a settled life away from the cold hemispheres, but now blissfully transplanted in Negros’s sun and eternal surf. Most of them while the days away in their seaside cafes—Happy Fred’s, Why Not, CocoAmigos among them—with their talks of home, their long-haired brown women, their beer and their whisky. This one is certainly not American. He bellows in English, but always in a European accent. He is an old white man. His hair is white. His skin is red from the sun. He wears a pair of shorts and, always, a sleeveless white tee. He looks poor. Or maybe nobody looks after him, which might explain everything. We know him as the Bicycle Man. And he drives all over town—from the airport to the seaside boulevard to the main strip of town. And we know him well because, wherever he goes on his bicycle, he bellows to everybody by the roadside anywhere, “Hallloooo yooooouuuu!”
Hello. You. Hello you. A stretched out greeting that rings out and means so many things. Sometimes we holler back a hello. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we glare back at him because he has startled us from our deep concentration while walking down the road. Sometimes we ask: Who is he? Where does he come from? When will he go home? Is he mad? Most times, we just feel sad for this old white man on a bicycle. So far away from home. Perhaps he only feels lonely, and thus endlessly greets everybody a grand hello, hoping, perhaps, that one friendly hello back will bring for him saner days, more beautiful days, where a strange land becomes a little bit more like home.
Labels: dumaguete, life
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