In the midst of moving to a different country thirteen hours in the future, (barely) enduring oppressive heat and humidity, dealing with relocation troubles, and generally trying to acclimate myself to a new job, a new neighborhood, the local trains, and communication in a different language, interesting things happen to me now and again.
- There was an international festival near the branch where I was filling in the other day. The streets were lined with vendors on both sides, with a small stage set up and periodic street performances (which made teaching very challenging, because they could get pretty loud). I had some of the festival food for lunch, and had complimented the girls working the Turkish booth on their attire. Later, when I had no lessons scheduled, they sent me to hand out round uchiwa with the company logo, and I spotted the Turkish booth girls again and gave a basic wave-and-smile before resuming my work. One of the Turkish guys working the booth came over all intense a couple minutes later and told me he wanted to talk to me in my building’s entryway, where he asked me if I spoke Japanese. What followed was him demanding to know why I waved and smiled at his wife, and he wanted to see my boss, and not to look over there any more. Funny thing was that I don’t actually know which of the women was his wife. He seemed pissy for a while after, and another of the Turks glared at me for a good five-ten minutes as well. (As a side note, I passed out almost all of the fans while outside.)
- As I was looking for a laundromat last night (so I had a place to dry my clothes), I passed some late-night gas-line work. One of the workers started speaking to me in English, and kept doing so each time I passed by, so I finally asked him how he learned it so well. Turns out he studied four years at Boston University for management; the gas gig was a side job to his government consulting work. I honestly didn’t expect to find someone fluent in English directing foot and bike traffic late at night in my neighborhood.
Employees at the SEGA chain of game centers don’t have their real names on their name lanyards; they all use nicknames. For example, a nametag I saw the other day said らぶみ (rabu-mi, which sounds like “love me” with a katakana pronunciation), and when I mentioned it to the girl, she said her real name was Ai, written with the character for “love.” Clever, no?