Friday here is like Sunday to the rest of the world and I was walking home after going to the grocery and sending some money home over through Western Union at the mall’s Al Ansari exchange. Walking at night in Sharjah is generally peaceful as it is not like back home when you just knew you had to take extra precaution for anything that might come up.
So I was crossing the street when a group young teens, probably locals, ran up almost to my back slightly hitting the back of my shoe and started muttering curses ending their phrases with Filipine or Filipino in their own accent. It had to be an insult as I would’ve been too naive to think it was something else. The signal to cross was still red and I had to endure all that verbal crap being directed at me.
They had with them a soccer ball and was busy toying with it and teasing each other and then speaking the same “blah-blah Filipine” almost to my ear. The light turned green to cross and they sped ahead of me while I was gathering my thoughts making a few logical choices before doing anything stupid. I walk fast by nature and I sped pass them and then without thinking coughed real loud at their backs just as I was walking into the middle of their group which broke them up as I kept walking. They were surprised as I could tell but I walked a bit more and stopped at the end of a nearby side street and started to tinker with my phone as if I was going to make a call.
The small group went into one of the shops along the street and I knew what would come next if I stayed long enough. But I didn’t budge and waited for what was inevitable. I was not the type who would cower down and run away so I stopped and waited for what would happen next. I was then thinking to myself, it is not worth it I should go back to my flat.
A few minutes after after that incident, a Filipino who happened to see the whole thing passed by so I decided to ask the person a question in my native tongue, “kabayan, pwede mag tanong? Ano ba pwede ko gawin pag kinursunada ka ng mga local?”, “Kabayan, can I ask a question?, What should I do if some local was trying to harass me?”, I said. I was surprised at the Filipino’s reaction as he said “di ko alam”, “I don’t know”, and started to walk rapidly away from me as if I had the plague or something. I said “salamat kabayan”, “thank you, kabayan” and went on my way. It wasn’t like I was going to drag him to trouble or something, the group was already gone and I just happened to ask as it was the first impulse I got. But I can understand, that Filipino may have a family to feed back home and didn’t need to complicate his life. He could even be an illegal immigrant, which could have been worse for him which could explain his panicking. It was just funny to see that I was very calm, even more calm than the Filipino I just asked.
After a few more blocks of walking and going around in the usual “evasive pedestrian maneuvering” I learned in the streets of my beloved Manila, where I learned to spot if I was being followed by making a few unusual turns and changing my route often, I made it to my flat safe and sound. I went up the elevator and let myself into my room.
I made the right choice, I kept calm (well, sort of) and went home. Getting in trouble was not worth it at all.