Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday at the University

This isn't the first time that I didn't go home for the weekend, but this is probably the first Sunday that I walked around a bit and saw how sleepy UP can be. I was on my way to meet one of the graduate students from my thesis lab; I figured I would walk, since I wasn't sure if there were any Ikot jeepneys around. I was already at Molave Residence Hall when an Ikot passed by, empty save for a handful of passengers. It rumbled along at a leisurely pace, unmindful of the conspicuous lack of vehicles on the roads. I suppose neither the driver nor the passengers were in any hurry to get anywhere.

When I reached the road on the right of Engineering I came across rows of cars and SUVs parked beside the sidewalks. The road had temporarily been closed off from the intersection that joined it to the Academic Oval; joggers of all ages clogged the Oval with a continuous flow of human traffic. Many of them ran in groups, chatting amongst themselves as they took advantage of the empty Oval to run outside the bike lane. A man and a woman were playing badminton on the road next to the lagoon. I hunted around for the cyclists who hung out at the food kiosk in front of the Faculty Center; in their helmets and brightly colored tights, they whiz past the joggers on the Oval during the weekdays. They were nowhere to be found.

By the time I had passed the Faculty Center I was feeling a little hungry, but the tiny sidewalk stall of my suki for monay was deserted. The large blue cooler that she kept her bottles of C2 and water in was bound to her wooden table with a rusty chain; the colorful beach umbrella that shaded her from the weather wasn't there. The other food stalls on the street were similarly devoid of their usual occupants. If I wanted to grab a bite to eat I'd have to go all the way back to the Shopping Center, whose eateries are open all seven days of the week. At that moment I marvelled at the many ways in which the UP community catered to one of its basic needs: convenient, cheap food. On a weekday I could have had my pick of fishballs or footlong hotdogs, taho, dirty ice cream or cheesecorn. Or, if I had had a half hour to spare, I could have gone to CASAA or Katag, the canteens nearest to me at the time. (I suppose I should also mention Kenneth's Kitchen, the canteen at NISMED, but I've never eaten there, and I keep forgetting that it's near the Faculty Center. ^^;)

The road to the second Engineering Library's building (also the home of the Department of Computer Science :D) was the emptiest and quietest of all. I could hear the birds and insects in the trees, and the perpetual wheezing of the telephone and electricity cables overhead. I was almost at MSI when I heard the first rumble of an approaching vehicle; it was a half-empty Ikot. The morning sun was beginning to sting my skin. When I got to the waiting shed in front of Science I sat down on the raised concrete, there being no one around to notice. On top of the hill across the road, my department's building stood desolate, like the proverbial haunted building. One of its glass doors was open; there was no sign of the graduate student I was supposed to meet. I pulled out my cellphone, sent her a message and proceeded to wait. A few more Ikots passed, each one slowing down in front of me and honking like a persistent hawker. I ignored them.

It would be several more minutes (or at least, it felt that way) before I heard a familiar voice calling my name across the road. I got up, waved, and hurried to where she was; there was little need for caution, since the road was empty. The sun beat down on us, all vestiges of early morning cold already gone. I felt sleepy and more than a little hungry. I envied one of my roommates, whom I had left sleeping contentedly thirty minutes before. A slow Sunday like this one is just perfect for sleeping in; unfortunately, I had to help one of my thesis lab's advisers with a last-minute errand. Sigh. Oh well.


Sting Lacson said...

the way you described the faculty center...nostalgia. :-) i wish i was back in undergrad. law school is really different, as a lot of the students there took their undergrad at that blue eagle university in katipunan rofl!

peyups the best!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Aww, it's so bad when everybody's slacking and you have to work. My husband hated it when I lazed on sundays and he had to work...