Sunday, July 28, 2002 2:36 PM
part 2

This trip did not begin well. It reminded me of a book from my childhood, called "What Good Luck! What Bad Luck!". What bad luck: my train ticket didn't work. What good luck: the barrier guard didn't care and let me through anyway. What bad luck: I forgot my Australian->Japanese plug for electric things, such as my laptop computer. What good luck: after a mad rush, I was able to acquire another at the airport. What bad luck: I forgot the transformer for my laptop. What good luck: there was a spare transformer in the Japanese office. What bad luck: I'm on my own in an apartment far from the office (two rides on the subway and some walking kind of far), I don't speak Japanese, and I'm low on cash. What good luck: ...what good luck? At least there was no trouble with customs this time.

What is it about aeroplane meals and vegetarians? Aeroplane staff seem to think that vegetarians are super healthy people who won't want anything containing carbohydrates, nitrates, phosphates, salt, sugar, fat... all the good stuff. So that means no dessert. Why is that? I like dessert. I want to join them in their dessertion.

The person next to me on the aeroplane was carrying a crash helmet. I suggested that she probably wouldn't be needing it on this flight. She thought that was hugely funny. Okay, so she didn't. She didn't laugh. She didn't even smile. Instead, during the one time that she so much as glanced in my direction, she gave me such a withering look that even my seat and the wall beside me wished they could have been somewhere else at the time. If she'd had anything to say to me before that moment, she kept it to herself afterwards. Some people have no sense of humour.

I stayed in a hotel during my first night in Japan. As I was looking for the room number that matched mine, I noticed a strange thing. On one side of the hall were the odd-numbered rooms. Wait for it, that's not the strange thing. On the other side of the hall were the even-numbered rooms. No, that's not the strange thing either. What was strange were the actual room numbers. "839", "840", "843", "844"... on one side of the hall, the number "841" was missing. On the other side of the hall, the number "842" was missing. It's not as though the other rooms were double the size, either. I asked Kaoru about it but he didn't know why. It doesn't seem to be the equivalent of avoiding the number 13 that I noticed in the USA.

My apartment here is what an Australian real-estate agent would call "cosy", meaning "small". The entire apartment (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) would have fitted into my hotel room. Twice. As far as it is accommodation for one person, though, it's perfect, but I wouldn't suggest trying to share.

The apartment block is called "AV Antique". I wonder if someone is trying to tell me something? There are older people in my profession, and I don't consider them to be old. I've been involved in the industry since its early days, but they weren't that long ago, either - the period corresponds at this point to only half of my entire life. :-)

Comic books are very popular here, especially among middle-aged men. After I found one (a book, not a middle-aged man) on the train, I understand why: the books also have photographs of pretty women in tiny bikinis. The usual reason for buying such publications is "for the articles". Since I've learned so far only about a dozen characters of Kanji, and none of Hiragana, I doubt that anyone would believe me.

The Japanese word for "yes" is "hai". It sounds to me like "hi" or "hey", which is the way in which I usually greet people. This causes confusion for people who want to know why I'm there.

- Hai?
- Hi.
- anno... hai?
- Hi.

So, when misunderstood, we have:

- Yes?
- Yes.
- er... yes?
- Yes.


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