26 September 2009

A Stolen Camera (and Soul, For All You Melodramatics)

It is fitting that this post has no accompanying photos, as Manila has a way of doing that – making it difficult to take them. Why, you ask? Well, I can't really answer but I sure know who can – the person (I think it was a lady) who snatched our camera from the case strapped across S's chest and ran down the street. She knows.

There is that horrible moment when you realize that something irreversible and bad has happened – the sinking cold feeling in your tum, the instant denial and panic, the desperate moment when you just have to accept that this is now your life and incorporate this new reality – the shitty one – into it.

When we were first dating S and I went to see a friend perform burlesque at a local hall. We arrived late and the bar had run out of everything except gin – a spirit that I simply cannot stomach. It tastes like hairspray and poison to me, and until that point I had never had more than a sip. Let's stress until that point. S and I got giggly from gin and juice, making me exclaim “hey – this isn't so bad!”

When on the short walk home my stiletto heels began cutting up my feet S valiantly began to piggy bag me – until he slipped on the ice. I went over his shoulders, stunned and without putting my hands in front of my face. As a result it was my two front teeth that broke my fall, and well – just broke. The sinking “this is irreversible” feeling happened as I spat bloody fragments of teeth into my hand and witnessed S's face register a look of absolute horror.

It was a moment in time that a) made me upset and b) cost a lot of money and hassle.

The accident shocked me – I realized that in one tiny little moment everything can change – you could be walking down the street and be bowled down by an errant bus. Or you could spill over your boyfriend's shoulders and break your grill. Or a little thief could run off with your beloved favourite camera – a moment that a) made me upset and b) will cost a lot of money and hassle.

Today, moments after the theft, it was my turn to look at S with that same expression of horror and disbelief. While I will gladly replace a camera over my teeth (two root canals, two crowns, many many needles poked into my gums) it was still a punch in the stomach. While S frantically paced around the overpass near the Quiapo Church (which houses the famous Manila quirk, the Black Nazarene, of which I have no photos) looking for the person responsible, I stood and almost dreamily thought to myself “We now have no camera.” While S was in shaking, angry denial I had floated into shocked acceptance.

I suppose because we have been traveling for so long and never had so much as a dime stolen we thought we were invincible. We got careless. A piece of advice for Manila – make sure your camera bag has a zipper and not velcro, otherwise a biatch will reach right in and disappear into the masses (they're Catholic, so sometimes the masses are literal.)

All I know is that now, kind of like the ill-fated piggy back incident, I almost feel gun shy about wandering around this city. The difference is then I was in a state of caution just when walking over patches of ice or riding my bike - now I am scared to take my laptop or wallet anywhere. I feel...vulnerable.

Are you more likely to get robbed in Manila than in other Southeast cities? Are gin-drinking, icy sidewalks and shoulder rides a bad combo? Well, not always.

But usually? Yes.

(I'm sorry to have my first post of the Philippines be a tad....negative, but I gotta be an honest writer. I promise that there will be many more posts that are in a happier vein – most people have been amazingly smiley and friendly and the food and sights have been great. I can't wait for the Cordillera, Vigan and Bohol!)


Nedzy said...

I'm half Filipino and half Persian, and when I was younger my parents always used to say that if we're to go back to the Philippines, we'd not just have to worry about the pick pocketers, we'd have to worry about being kidnapped and held for ransom - as american (although i'm canadian) movie stars.

Be happy on one side at least - that camera may help that person have a few dinners, feed a family, buy some clothes?

Violet Dear said...

@Nedzy - I just wish that they had given me the chance to buy it back myself! Id have gladly handed 100 USD over (wayyy more than they will get here) for my camera!

yma said...

Ouch, I forgot all about the teeth incident!

MeanDonnaJean said...

Uggggg. Freakin' thug.

Sad to say this but the longer I'm on this earth 'n the more I know, the more I get to hate humans.

However, on a more positive note...things can {hopefully} only go UP from here right?

I'll keep my fingers crossed for ya.

Grant said...

Bummer city. Happened to me once, my own fault tho. On the london tube back in the day, saw my first real skinhead chick. Cheeks laden with safety pins, torn black leathers and bright pink tomahawk , not just pink like the try colored hair pink but pink like lucky elephant candy popcorn pink. She sat right across from me as my jaw and my shoulder camera strap dropped in the aweness of her punkness. Slightly dazed, i got off at the next stop and did the french connection "oh shit" as the doors closed against me and the train whooshed away. Ran to the station to report it and they said to bad govna. Called the next day, the pink lady had turned it in!

This just means its time for more megapixels, your last pics were a little foggy anyway, let it go to the ether. We want jeepny pics,
cheers g

Katie said...

Ack! Total bummer. As a fellow shutterbug, I sympathize with your loss. :(

Anonymous said...
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StephanieC said...

I feel your pain. But now i know i was right to buy the Pacsafe bag i did for my travels.
Try at least enjoy the shopping for the new one :)

Pat said...

I know a camera can be replaced, but I, too, would be devastated. My camera is like my right hand, in fact, it usually is IN my right hand. I know it's not a life and death matter to get your camera stolen, but it's upsetting nonetheless. Sorry about that. And....it could happen ANYWHERE.

Violet Dear said...

I just want the same model (actually, there is a slightly new, cheaper version so we will go with that) but it is twice theprice here!

I apologize - my blog photos will be lacking for the next few months!

Ophelia said...

We had one of those horrible moments, when my beloved husband left our bag with our: camera, video camera, passports, train tickets, plane tickets and mobile on a tram in Berlin less than 5 minutes after we arrived in Berlin (bearing in mind we speak all of 10 words of German)
My guardian Angel (my gran) was looking over us that day, because we managed to find the driver of the tram, who had our bag, with everything still in it!!!
My birthday was the next day... Think it was one of the best yet :)

Anonymous said...

oh well...shit happens. Life is what it is. But U have transcended the mundane and delighted and fascinated me. Thank U.

OH! By the way? Your last post was nothing but informative, human and AWESOME! (and that's all I have to say about that).

except for..."Stolen Camera" would be an awesome name for a song or a Band. (just sayin')

ps. it's asking me for word verification:


No shit!