On the street where i live

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By Sandy Gil

Sunday Dunes

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I LIVE in a generally quiet and peaceful middle-class subdivision, in the south of Davao City, where streets have no names. When asked for my address, it is not unexpected that I begin to sweat profusely. Anxiety creeps in, for it would seem odd to others that I am uncertain of my own home address. With the numbers that accompany the words "block" and "lot" - which signifies meaning only to the real estate developer - my address refuses to give an iota of a hint, to my visitors nor to me, where, in the entire subdivision, my home might be located. This is of course assuming that I even know which numbers go with the words "block" and "lot" (or is it the other way around, as in "lot" and "block?").

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As if nameless streets were not enough, a large majority of the streets that make up the subdivision are not straight. They are curved. And despite the curving streets (that only a drunken urban designer can conjure) which naturally slow down vehicles, the developer nonetheless decided to add insult to injury by further reducing the speed of vehicles with rotundas, instead of humps. (They could have just told us to walk, you know.) Thus, there are cute little rotundas for cute little streets and cul de sacs, medium-sized rotundas for medium-sized streets, and of course, the only two enormous rotundas along the subdivision's main street.

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When I first moved in to my home in this subdivision, it took me about a month to gain confidence in finding my own home. It often crossed my mind to drop tiny white pebbles or pieces of bread crumbs, when leaving the house, to serve as guides to bring me back home.

It is therefore not surprising that I have actually stopped giving relatives and friends directions to my house. It seemed ridiculous to direct them by saying "go straight" when there is no such thing as straight in this subdivision. I could say "go curved," but that would raise too many eyebrows and questions. Giving directions to my house is too tedious. It has become more convenient to simply fetch them from one of the two gates of the subdivision.

Even taxi drivers, these road experts who possess the best sense of direction, have been known to drive around the subdivision for two hours looking for the exits. And since stores are not allowed in the subdivision, and since (I'm sure) its residents too don't know their respective addresses and locations, there is really no one to ask directions from!

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My home is located at the very end of the one and only main street (which is not straight) in one of the three phases of the subdivision. But then again, I am not really quite sure if it is, in fact, the "very end" of the street. Come to think of it, I am not sure if this street has a beginning or an end.

From an aerial (!) point of view, this subdivision phase is more or less shaped like an enormous Christmas stocking (that is in dire need of ironing). To get to this area, one enters the top of the stocking (the landmark of which is a one-sided curved fence with no home). Cutting horizontally across the stocking is the lone minor street of the section - so that the entire phase no longer assumes the image of a Christmas stocking, but that of a sports socks. My home is located right at the heel of this sock, away from the rest of the stocking/socks. (Get the picture? Whew.)

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Being at the heel of the stocking/sock is an advantage. A firewall completely separates my property from the neighbor beside my lot. Strewn across my home, along this nameless curved street that has no beginning nor end, are six houses. These houses are distant enough to prevent intrusiveness, yet near enough so that I don't feel isolated. What is even better is that of the six houses, one has only a single transient resident; another has only a caretaker; two others appear to be abandoned, or perpetually up for sale; one appears to be visited by its owner only every two months; and in the last lives a nice couple with only one child.

Given this tiny human population in this subdivision nook, trees, flowers, plants, and birds abound. There is no traffic congestion nor air and noise pollution - a rare treat in this fast-growing city.

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And as the Broadway song goes, although there are not enough "people who can stop and stare" to bother me, "there is nowhere else on earth" this fair (aging) lady would rather be - but to be "on the (nameless curved) street (that has no beginning or end) where she lives."

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 30, 2014.

Opinion

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