HAVEN'T SEEN my brother Ralph for more than a month now. My mother must have told him of my present state—exhausted and sleepless—when he called home. While I was looking after ward patients complaining of new onset chest pains, he texted me, "Let's get some wine when you're free"—his subtle way of finally admitting that Medicine is truly harder than Law. (Feel free to disagree, of course: that is one pointless debate that can never be resolved.)
After Sunday service this morning he treated me to lunch. He suggested that we eat at New Bombay at The Podium. The Indian restaurant was quiet, just the way I think restaurants should be. The chicken tikka misala was intense, and I really enjoyed the cheese naan, which was like pita bread but laden with cheese. I hardly knew anything from the menu because I'd only been to one Indian restaurant before (Assad Café, along UN Avenue). The experience was educational for me.
We had dessert at Café Breton. Ours was the simplest, most delicious crêpe I've tasted thus far, its sweetness neutralized by the lemon.
"Do you still have time to spare?" Manong asked, who'd usually be in a rush to his Quezon City apartment to prepare his Monday court pleadings.
I looked at my watch and said, "Yes, maybe another hour," because I still had a 7 pm-to-7 am shift at the ER. I needed the afternoon to sleep. He took me to Café 1771 at El Pueblo Real, Ortigas Center, about a stone's throw away from The Podium.
He ordered two glasses of wine from the wine list—a Spanish cabernet, if I'm not mistaken. I'm no wine connoisseur, and I hardly know anything about wines, except that the older a bottle is, the more expensive it sells.
We were amused at our pretentiousness. But we enjoyed the place. Books decorated the walls (even Schwartz, the surgery textbook, was among them), the couches were so comfortable one could sleep on them, and the acoustics was ideal.
Says Manong Ralph, "We sip wine and pretend we're sophisticated. In a few minutes we will be taking public transportation back to our middle class apartments and the rest of our plebeian lives. That's how my brother and I roll sometimes."
On my way home the cab driver demanded a 50-peso tip, and I told him, "Estudyante lang po ako, Kuya. Wala pang sweldo." He backed off eventually.