Day 15: Quality

I was told today by a co-worker here in the Philippines that my writing style very much mirrored a book called The Beach by Alex Garland. If I can find some way to fictionalize my travels and make a story about it, I just might do that.

The Philippines has no lack of interesting foods to eat. Today was no exception. There is a fruit called Durian that is eaten here. This fruit is so smelly, that it is banned in many cities, closed spaces, and whatnot. The fruit itself is found in the southern areas of the Philippines in an area known as Davao. It's a fruit that you either love to hate, or hate to love. I'm not sure there is a middle ground. One of the workers here in the Philippines happens to be from Davao, and extols the treasure of the almighty durian, and offered to bring some into the office. Sites online show that Durian has very appeasing properties

  • Durian is extremely nutritious because it is rich in vitamin B, C and E and with high iron content. Eating durian is alleged to restore the health of ailing humans and animals.
  • Durian fruit helps lower cholesterol.
  • Durian is a strong blood cleanser.
  • Durian contains high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, known to alleviate anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and create feelings of happiness, by raising levels of serotonin in the brain
  • Durian contains high level of soft protein which makes it a good muscle builder.
  • Durian is recommended as a good source of raw fats.

How can you not say no to this?! It sounds amazing! Needless to say, I asked that if there was ever a chance for me to try this fruit, I would certainly love to.

Today was the day that he brought it in.

The fruit itself looks like white yams - very stringy. The flesh is very soft, and has a yellow tint to it. The actual fruit itself is really cool looking - a tough exterior shell with what looks like spikes. Since I'm partial to hedgehogs, this fruit is right up my alley! Even with the ample warning from all of the people around me, I was not prepared for what happened next.

We went downstairs at lunchtime to open up the airtight container containing the mystical fruit. In a small plastic container, the fruit looks weak - almost docile. Very creamy looking - I half expected the fruit to come apart in my hands - similar to how an older, rotting banana does. Upon opening the container, I wasn't overcome by a small. The smell simply slowly wafted to my nose, reminding me of rotting cabbage. My disdain for cabbage is almost as high as my disdain for sour cream, so I was not pleased to know I had to eat this.

The actual flavor of the fruit was pretty pleasant. Creamy, as I expected, and very sweet. However, the smell quickly overpowered any pleasantry that existed, and I nearly lost it (as seen above). I'm not sure I can add anything more to my explanation than what you have seen. Suffice it to say - if I had to choose 1M scoville wings versus durian again... wings are coming my way.

Things to do in the Philippines: Eat Durian. (Check!)

I can safely say that I've now cut my hair the same way for at least the last decade - #2 on the sides, tapered up to a #4. The problem has always been that I have never been particularly pleased with the haircut. Typically, the person cutting rushes through the job to get me out of a chair, leaves some amount of hair randomly sticking out and uneven, and I am absolved to make a comment akin to It'll grow back in a week and just deal with it.

I received a haircut the other day at one of the local places. Walked in and sat down, asked for my traditional haircut, and the guy went to work. What happened next amazed me still today. He took his time, went through the process to cut my hair, took scissors to my hair, double/triple checked my hair before a combing, after a combing, fuzzed up - all to ensure that the job was done well. The haircut certainly took longer than haircuts I've received in the past, but it was well worth it. The best part is - it was only PHP 180 (about $4). In all, with tip, I paid 4x less than I typically pay for a crappy haircut in the US.

I'm torn with this. The guy was genuinely interested in doing a good job, and took immense pride after he was complete. I'm sure people in the US still hold themselves to this quality standard, but I sure as hell can't seem to find them. What I found most interesting is my own contempt for lack of quality, just because that's just the way it is. Why is it that I care about the quality of large chain stores peddling their wares to people that have a hard time affording quality (I'm looking at you, Wal-Mart), but I don't care about other sectors the same? Is it even possible to vote with my dollar anymore - does one person's money make a difference anymore? Is the situation really dire, or am I just not looking in the right places. Lots of questions, not many answers. Something to think about, for sure.

Finally, I am getting rather sick of staring at my overweight self, so I started my workout regiment today. Nothing impressive - just burpees. I'm going to just use my own weight to burn itself off. Sad part is that I'm only able to do about half of the beginner burpee regiment right now. But that's okay - tomorrow I'll do at least one more. In a month, I'm going to be in even better shape. Here's hoping that I can do it.

More pictures of the beach.