Monday, April 30, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 44

Tupi woke up to his phone ringing. It was Michael. 

"Hey Tupi, heard about you getting lost in Florida after the hurricane. Are you ok? Did you get hurt? You need to go to the hospital for a check up, you may have ..." Michael said on the phone.

"I'm ok, was not hurt or anything, just went out and got disoriented by the messy roads." Tupi said. "Thanks for the concern, I'll be back in 2 days and will go for a check up in Singapore. Did Justin tell everyone?"

"Yeah, read about it on Facebook." Michael said. "I'm glad you are not hurt. I'll buy you a drink when you are back. I have some stories about Nepal Earthquake I want to tell you. Sometimes you try to help people, and it backfires on you, and then they try to take advantage of you."

"No one is taking advantage of me. The people are very nice here, and they sent me back to Justin." Tupi said. "Just realized how vulnerable I was without my phone."


The 2 chatted for about an hour and Tupi felt a lot better when he knows that someone cares about him. Tupi went to have breakfast with Justin and just wanted to take it easy. Justin sent Jake to his mom at the hospital and Tupi heard that Jake's mom is getting discharged and he would go home with her. Things are looking better and Tupi did not want to risk it and he stay in the house to pack up. 

"MRE and life straw is still here, never get to use them." Tupi said and took them out of his luggage and continued to pack. Tupi did his laundry and carefully ironed and folded his clothes. Tupi looked at the photos in his camera and was still in awe on the destruction. 

When Justin is back, Justin took Tupi to Miami where they went to the mall to shop for souvenirs and had a good dinner. Tupi felt a lot better after a burger and milkshake and Justin took the scenic route where they had the windows down. There was not much traffic and everything was calm and peaceful.

Soon it was time for Tupi to get on his flight to Singapore. He checked for his passport and his belongings and Justin sent him to the airport. It was an interesting adventure, one that he would never forget.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 43

Tupi got in the car and after crossing the bridge, the nice sunshine and the wind blowing on Tupi's face helped him to relax and Tupi was able to recognize some of the roads and guided the driver to Justin's house.

When the car pulled up, Justin ran out and saw Tupi. "Where did you go? What happened to you?" Justin asked.

"I don't know what happened, I could not sleep, went out and got lost." Tupi said. "And I was saved by the people who lost their homes."

"Thank you sir, for bringing my friend back." Justin said to the man, shook his hands. "Do you want to come in for a drink?"

"Got to go now!" The man said and waved good bye. "Some packing to do."


Tupi went in the house and felt ashamed. "I seem to be a lot of trouble."

"Its just stress." Justin replied. "You are not used to be in this situation."

"But I did not even lose anything..." Tupi said. "I'm now being a burden."

"You have too much empathy." Justin said. "You are feeling the shared painful experiences of everyone, and you are taking it all it. Perhaps we should talk more, eat healthy and rest well. I've been through a phase of depression before, and trust me, you don't want to have it especially when you're just here to help."

"Ok, I'll take it easy." Tupi said. "Did not know that I can develop stress by just volunteering."


Tupi took a nap and woke up in the evening to go for dinner with Justin at a nice restaurant. They went to the hospital to get Jake. "Lets go get some Southern Seafood!" Justin said and brought Jake along for dinner.

"Have you tried Jambalaya?" Justin asked.

"Is it like Paella" Tupi asked.

"I don't know. To me, Gumbo, Paella, Jambalaya and etouffee is almost the same thing." Justin said. "Gumbo and etouffee are wetter, almost like soup with rice inside, but pretty much similar"

"Wow, so many different names?" Tupi said. "All the rice dish with meat, seafood and vegetables inside?"

"Yup..." Justin said.

"Hey Jake, do you like Jambalaya?" Justin asked.

"Love it!" Jake said.

"Then its set!" Justin said. "Lets go!"

Everyone seems to be in a much better mood. Jake started talking about his mother's recovery and the mood was rather uplifting.


The smell of good food, fried seafood and spicy Cajun sauce fills the air. Tupi immediately looked at the spicy Jambalaya and was all set. "What goes well with this?" Tupi asked the waiter.

"Sauvignon Blanc" The waiter said.

"Really?" Tupi asked.

"The spiciness of the Jambalaya actually goes really well with a medium bodied white." The waiter replied. "Not too over powering and brings out the flavor of the other ingredients inside."

"Sounds really good." Tupi said. "I'll have that and the wine."


It seem like good food and good company can fix everything. Tupi felt much better when they got back to the house. Tupi looked at his schedule and decided to book a flight home in 2 days. Then he went and inform Justin.

Tupi chatted with Justin into the night, talking about his recent experience and near breakdown. Justin listened and was very encouraging. Tupi felt a big relief after the chat and slept well for the night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 42

Tupi could not sleep even when he felt really tired from lifting heavy stuff. Tupi felt restless and could not focus. He got up and washed his face and was not sure what he was doing. Tupi went through his luggage and found his lifestraw, MRE and solar kits. "What was I thinking..." Tupi muttered and decided to get some fresh air.

Tupi put on his light jacket and sneakers and left the house. Then he began to walk down the road.


Tupi did not realize that he walked for a long time and the sky was turning blue. "Morning?" Tupi muttered. Tupi felt confused and disoriented. "Where the hell am I?" Tupi asked and he was lost. The roads does not look familiar and he did not know how to get back to the house.

Tupi could not find his phone, he just realized that he did not have Justin's address or any other phone numbers on him to call. Everything he knows is stored on the WhatsApp messenger. Tupi felt calm, he did not panic and felt rather numb.


Tupi walked and soon could smell an open trench. He continued to walk and crossed the bridge. At this time, his legs were aching and he was a little dizzy. He walked over to a few people at their destroyed trailers and sat there. Tupi was not feeling so well. 

One of the kids at the trailer approached Tupi. "Do you need a drink?" The young girl offered Tupi a refilled bottle of water and Tupi drink it quickly. Tupi did not realize that he was badly dehydrated. "Thanks, I really needed that." Tupi said and walked over to the family and helped with the clearing of debris for them to collect some of their belongings.

A few hours have passed and the family offered Tupi some fruits for lunch. "Where do you live now?" The man asked Tupi. 

"I live on the other side of the bridge." Tupi said. "I mean.. The house is not destroyed... I'm not from here... I live in Singapore." Tupi was confused again, and he was not sure why.

"Are you ok?" The man asked. "Do you need to go to a hospital or something? There is one in Tavernier and another in Homestead. We could send you there."

"I think I'm ok, I'm not injured or anything. I needed some fresh air." Tupi said. 

"Where do you live?" The man asked. "Perhaps I could send you back. You seemed a little lost."

"I was here yesterday. I don't recall where I live but I know it is on the other side of the bridge. Nearer to Miami, not on the Keys." Tupi said.

"Ok, We are pretty much done for the day, still need to do some paperwork and need the Internet. Send you back in 15 mins?" The man said. 

"Sure, ok." Tupi replied.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Short Social Fiction: Adventures of Tupi 41

The next day, Justin and Tupi drove across the river again. They saw some people at the destroyed mobile homes and Justin drove over and stopped the truck. As Justin exited, he looked at Tupi and Tupi was just sitting there in the truck.

"I have donated in the past, and writing checks and helping people makes me feel good, makes me feel that I'm contributing to society." Tupi said. "I had always dreamed of coming to a disaster area and help. And now, everything seems overwhelming. The rubble, the debris, the smell. Where do you even start? It is so easy to watch on TV and feel sad and want to do something, and end up only donating, but now that I'm here, I am lost."

A man walked over and handed Tupi an apple. "How can I help you? Did you lose your home too?"

Tupi looked up at the man. He was a big guy with a bandanna and a big white beard. "Um.. no... I don't live here, I'm here to help, but I don't know what to do."

"Hey look here." The man said. "Nobody is an expert. Every day is different, just come over and help. We are clearing some heavy stuff here and could sure need a hand!" The man smiled at Tupi and extended his hand out and Tupi grabbed it and stood up.

Tupi help pull up some fallen boards and panels and carried it away. It was quite hard work and requires a lot of strength and endurance. The sun came up and it was nice and warm and Tupi too off his jacket and took a short break. "You ok?" The man asked Tupi.

Tupi smiled and gave a thumbs up.

Everything seems overwhelming when you look at it, but when you start clearing things up, a board at a time, the task becomes much clearer, and progress can be felt. Tupi drank from his bottle of water and felt great. He took a deep breadth and continued to carry out buckets of mud and debris and place it in a pile so that the others can continue to work and look for things inside the destroyed mobile home.

Another van drove up and the drive came over and shared several sandwiches with everyone. "Thanks..." Tupi said as his stomach growled. He had forgotten to have lunch. Everyone around him seemed nice, sharing food and water.

Tupi walked over to the man with the bandanna. "Hi, my name is Tupi."

"I'm Steve." The man said. "Nice to meet you. Really appreciate that you can come to help."

"I was already in Florida." Tupi said. "Our place was not so affected, and I always wanted to help in a disaster, but never got a chance till now."

The group of people chatted for a bit and bonded. Tupi felt that he was now connected to something bigger and more important and it felt like a day well spent.