I arrived in Wiesbaden with the intelligence of a cretin. I could hardly comprehend the most basic questions. "How long will you be staying in Germany?" The passport control officer interrogated me in Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.
"For a film festival," I answered.
The officer stared at me. I could imagine a thought bubble hovering above him, "Another one of those stupid Asians."
I did not sleep a single minute on the thirteen-hour flight to Amsterdam from Manila, the long travel made slightly bearable by a marathon screening of Despicable Me, Salt, I hate LUV Storys, Sorcerer's Apprentice and episodes of Two Men and a Half, Bing Bang Theory and Accidentally Yours. I have a fear of flying, which explains why I can not sleep while in flight. My condition was aggravated when I reached Frankfurt. KLM lost my luggage. I reported the matter to the airline counter. The clerk in charge doubted me. "Are you sure it's not on the conveyor belt?" At this point, I could not say a word anymore. I just looked at him with my bloodshot eyes.
My thought processes had shut down when I reached the Festival Center at Caligari FilmBuhne in Wiesbaden. It was late in the evening. I was introduced to the Festival staff, shook their hands, and said the perfunctory greetings. They seemed like floating phantoms to me. Or was I the phantom in their midst? I felt like a zombie, animated only by my enthusiasm of being invited to this Festival.
"You want to drink something?" The Festival programmer asked me. At the corner of the Filmbuhne, there was a bar. Seeing it I knew I was going to be perfectly alright. I had three mugs of beer. A befitting German welcome. A Festival staff gave me a shirt. "While you wait for your luggage," she said. I smiled at her, and thanked her. I walked to my hotel, feeling neither the cold weather nor my sore back. As soon as I reached my room, I sunk into my bed and slept for ten hours.
I woke up to this beautiful view from my window.