Friday, February 18, 2005

Response to Cardozo

Reader Cardozo asked in Oh Lord Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz, a post which dealt in part with growing car-bomb making capability of terrorists in Southeast Asia, how to say a strange thing.

W: How do you say "Ich bin ein Israeli" in Tagalog? I hope they never have to learn that phrase, but should they have to, I hope they do.


I guess the sonorous way to say 'ich bin ein Israeli' in Tagalog is 'hindi kayo nag-iisa', which literally means 'you are not alone'. Of the course proper setting in which to say it is to imagine yourself in a low dive called the 'Boteng Umiilaw', a tin shack with packed dirt floors under a decrepit bridge by an open sewer in Vitas, Tondo. It would be lit by a 15-watt red-colored incandescent bulb. A really cheap sound system will be thumping out the guitar introduction to "Faithful Love" as wary stares are exchanged from bleary eyes all around. All the drinkers would be butchers in the municipal abbatoir located right over the fence, next to the sewer; their clothes stained with blood. When the inevitable fight breaks out the red bulb should be shattered by a thrown glass, but in the glow of the jukebox, you might see, as in strobe photography, the glint of balisong blades flashing open: some in a smooth overhand and others with a flip, twist and flip back. The man you came to see will be pinned in a corner and you will hear yourself saying, in a voice not quite your own, 'hindi ka nag-iisa'.