A visit to the Orient III: Philippines (1978)...Rekha Karmakar

Third of Mom's posts on the Orient from 1978...Philippines & its live volcanoes & fresh pineapples


"Our next destination was Manila in Philippines. Whenever I think of Manila, I remember its beaches with dwarf coconut trees. Usually, we were used to seeing very tall coconut trees in West Bengal.

We noticed on the roads of Manila, small mini bus types of public transport . These had some similarity with a jeep as the exit door was at the back. It was called ‘jeepney’. We too took a few rides on the ‘jeepney’. 
What struck me most, in Manila, were the living volcanoes around the city. I had read about volcanoes in school. Later, I saw volcanic eruptions on Discovery/ National Geographic channels on TV. Hot lava coming out of volcanoes, looked as beautiful as molten gold. Though it is a wonder of nature, people seeing it, in reality, are not that fortunate as it destroys everything around it.

We went to an elevated place like a small hill .Going up there, we could see from far, layers and layers of white smoke billowing out of the living volcanoes. These volcanoes, though living, were not active i.e. they did not erupt lava followed by ash. Luckily, that day, we could see the smoke coming out of the volcanoes as these volcanoes also sometimes become ‘dormant’.
 .
Sitting by a living volcano at 
Philippines


There was a beautiful restaurant on the small hill. Many tourists, mostly Europeans and Americans, thronged to the place to see the wonder of nature i.e. the living volcanoes.

Seeing and eating always go together. The tourists were having vanilla ice cream in green coconuts/ daab (in Bengali). The green coconuts were emptied of the water. Only the white thick layer of the green coconut remained. Ice cream was served in the green coconut to be eaten along with the soft layer of the coconut. The concept of ’daab-chingri’ (prawns cooked in green coconut) was quite unfamiliar at that time. However, the ‘daab ice-cream’ was beyond our means as it was highly exorbitant. Instead we had fresh, juicy pineapples, cut and sliced before our eyes, fetched from nearby pineapple plantations .Having it was a delight in itself.

Even after almost four decades, I am quite shameless to admit that the craving for that ‘daab ice cream’ still remains in my mind. Today I can easily afford a ‘daab ice-cream’ or even make it myself. But as fate would have it, I am forbidden by my doctor to have anything sweet. However, I do not mind it and take everything in my stride. I would, though, request the foodies to try it out and popularize this daab- ice cream as I have not seen any ice cream parlour serving ice cream in green coconuts.

Our journey to the East ended with our trip to Manila. From there, we proceeded to Iran, our home away from home. As it is usual after a long holiday, it took us some time to get adjusted to everyday life. Especially visiting India made us home sick. But, then, time is a great healer. We, too, very soon got entuned to the rhythm of Iranian life and started enjoying ourselves in Iran as before.

Good bye
R.K.
KOLKATA,
1/12/2011


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