Friday, April 30, 2010

the art of annoyance

I am so pissed off right now. I was waiting for a train to take me to work and suddenly someone touched my shoulder lightly. I was surprised because people dont usually touch strangers in Tokyo. I look over and its this russian exchange student and she asks a question (in English) about the name of the line but she muddles the vowels and so I say "sorry where are you trying to go?" hoping she'll at least be able to nail the pronunciation of her destination. She pulls out an English map and says "here." I totally know the station and so just as I go to explain it to her this Japanese dweeb steps--literally-- between us and starts blabbering at her in Japanese about how to get there. Now there were tons of Japanese people on the train platform so she clearly had more confidence speaking English, thats why she picked me. But this was a nationalist geek (believe me, thats really a type in Japan) so he thought he would interrupt and "help" in Japanese but she didnt get it and his assumption I couldnt help her was uber annoying too. I said in English "Dude, she doesnt speak japanese. Let me finish explaining." She said in broken Japanese "Little Japanese speak" so I shrugged said "ok, he'll help you." and let the dweeb take over. She clearly didnt get it. He pointed to the ground and said in Japanese "Not this line, you should go down stairs." and she answered in English "Oh, take this line?" My train was coming and I would be late for work so I had to take it. So I said to the lady in English "Not this line, maybe get help at the station" (because they often have information centres, and I didnt have time to help) but the Japanese guy literally stepped infront of me to cut me off so I couldnt help her in English. GAAAD! And he got on the same train as me. As we were getting on the train, I said in Japanese "What the hell man? She couldnt understand your Japanese!" and he said "Yes she could." And I said "Huh? No she couldnt." and he replied "I was just being nice." and then we were in the train and pushed in different directions by the crowds. I was left with confused feelings. Yes, it is Japan so she should learn Japanese... and, yes its good to try to be nice to strangers. But darn it, he just butted in and made it so I couldnt help her and made her loose a chance to get help. And his attitude was so annoying. Gaaaad!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

up up in the air

I find myself currently torn behind trying out "new things" and avoiding anything new. Days like today, with rain quietly splattering outside my wind and cars running along wet pavement, I feel like I could stay in my room forever. Never call any friends, never go downtown, never do anything. But other days, I feel a desire to stretch myself out to do new things, experience new horizons. It was one of those outward bound moments that found me heading to Gunma. The prefecture of Gunma is only a little over an hour train ride from my part of Tokyo, and I passed the time with a friend (who might want to be left unnamed because of their fear to take part in the events of the day), talking in slowly rolling trains is a simple pleasure of mine. We get to Gunma, and the reality of it hits me. I had browsed a Wikipedia page on the origin of gliding in the olympics, and I had got interested in it a bit. A plane without an engine is tugged up into the air by another plane (with an engine) and then let go. The engineless plane is left to glide slowly in circles, with nothing but the sail-like wings supporting it. The day was beautiful, little yellow flowers poking out of the grass in green fields next to rural backroads. We get up to the field where the glider hobbyists are assembled in a circle. They all seem so intent on their hobby, and I felt like an outsider. The leader asks me to introduce myself and I get a little uncharacteristically short of words, stammer something about why I was there. The different characters waiting for a ride in the gliders are all chatty and unique. An older woman who owned a hang glider company; she defined her hang gliding service as local trains and gliders as bullet trains. In other words, this was the deluxe way to get up into the clouds. A female high school student from 5 hours away (there aren't many glider clubs in Japan apparently) who had met one of the pilots while on vacation by herself overseas. Suddenly a grisly old pilot called me over to his glider, and told me we were going up. He strapped me into a parachute, told me not to press the canopy eject button, and we were off. An old airplane pulling us up, up, up in to the air. It felt unreal, buoyant, and a bit euphoric. As we got higher up, and the rural rice fields began to blend together, I could see other gliders circling on the thermal vents. One came literally feet from our wings, and my pilot swore. But I wasn't even upset by the close call, I was already hurtling to the sky pulled behind another airplane by nothing but a thin rope. And then the rope was gone, disconnected, we were hanging on nothing but the wind. The air whistled past and the pilot banked in loops, pointing the shiny wing down towards the ground. The ground twirled around us, the blue sky danced along with it. It is hard to explain what it felt like, but I suppose if I had been born a dolphin it would have felt the same to swim in a beautiful ocean. And then we were landing again. Back on the ground, leaving me to search for words to explain those quick 20 minutes in the air.
All original content CC 2002-2012 BY NC SA - first design from dilarangmelarang altered by neonvirus and thunderbunny.