We all look out of the window when we are traveling in a vehicle, and that’s why most of us prefer sitting right beside one. That’s what I do—look out the window when in a bus or train—but that’s after I survey the people around me. I quickly monitor my surroundings now and then and observe, and then proceed looking out the window.
I particularly watch what people inside buildings are doing, aside from those walking on the streets and sidewalks. I watch their facial expressions, gestures, where they put their hands, their eye movements and hairdo—all that at a glance.
Buses often travel slowly with today’s traffic, so I have more time observing people when in a bus. I watch security guards outside (or inside) entrances either opening doors for people or just standing guard there, looking at nothing. I wonder what’s on their minds. Their loved ones? Lunch? Payday? Crooks?
Well mostly, they do other things than stand guard. Mostly they chat with others or read tabloids. Or else, pretend to be writing something on the log book. Have you noticed how a lot of log books have drawings or scribbles on them? Done by bored guards. May God protect them.
I watch drivers in other cars, even those with tinted glass windows. I catch their faint images at some angle and see what they’re doing–they’re mostly texting or chatting on their mobile phones. And pedestrians—you see half of them busily texting or playing a game on their mobile phones. Some listen to the radio with headphones. God protect them.
Sometimes you see 5 big and suspicious looking fellows in a car, all oddly quiet. Gangsters? Or are they employees just reprimanded by their boss? God bless them.
It’s riding on LRT trains that I enjoy the most, especially when going to Manila. I always look inside the second levels of old buildings along Rizal and Taft Avenues and watch people in them. Most of these buildings are abandoned. I see the walls and corners of messy rooms, some are dark, some are faintly lighted by sunlight. Those rooms may have been alive with people before, especially when they were newly built, but now they look haunted. I wonder what happens there at night, being dead quiet and deserted.
Once, I saw a dirty room on the third floor of an abandoned building. There was a family there of three—dad, mom and a kid—and I wondered how they could sleep there. May God bless them. I could just imagine how it was living in that unfinished building, no window grills and no protection against the elements. Poor kid.
Then, the train stopped at a station. People went out while some went in. I observed them as they moved. I looked at their faces, eye movements, the way they stood, their hands and their bags. After seeing where they were and their positions, I looked out the window again. The train moved. In one room of a building (it looked like a reception area), I saw security guards, about 5 of them, discussing something. They looked happy about what they were talking about. May God bless them.
We passed by Cathedral of Praise along Taft and then saw several colleges. I wondered what the students there were doing. God protect them. Manila City Hall went by and then my eyes quickly tried to see through the broken windows of the Metropolitan Theater, though a bit distant from us.
As we crossed Pasig River, memories of my dad as we had taken him to his office in our family car when I was a kid became vivid. I sighed.
Along Rizal Avenue, I watched through the open windows a dancing class. It looked like a ballet or Zumba class. The instructor looked conscious of our train for a while—probably imagining how passengers may be watching them—but then she seemed to have overcome her shyness and proceeded. I saw all that at a glance as we passed by.
You see slices of life in Manila when you’re looking out from an LRT train window.
From Recto, gradually, the scenes change. After getting past Blumentritt, you see La Loma and Chinese Cemeteries and sometimes you wonder what goes on in them at day time and night time. You see some people actually residing there. Are there ghosts there?
Soon, you are in Quezon City.
Watching out the window of a vehicle is like watching a poem go alive in real life. Well, sometimes, it’s the other way around. It seems like life is encapsulated in a poem when you watch these scenes. I do the same when traveling out of town. I love to watch what people are doing and asking myself why they’re doing it.