uiuu .: Past week

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Past week

Ingenious title, if I may say so. In this manner I can carry on with "Past week 2...3...aso" And when I become really lazy, I can change it into "Past month..2..3.." Tap on my shoulder for that one. Anyway, here are at least some of the past few days described to a certain level of detail:

Tuesday 6. October - [MUSIC] Its no fun bein an illegal Alien... [/MUSIC]

Everyone who is staying more than 90 days in Japan is expected to get an alien card.
So I went down to our city ward office – Bunkyõ-ku ( Tokyo is divided into 23 ku's i.e., wards or
city districts, each having their own office). I walked down roughly 3km, and finally this massive skyscraper building next to Tokyo dome appeared. I was told by one of the flatmates, Jessica that the office was in the second floor, and I eventually found it. The staff explained where I had to go in order to get passphotos, the office was about to close, so after running a round a bit, I returned with the photos and started filling out the alien registration form. One post said current address. Ups…don’t know (..walk I may, talk I may... in my sleep I still am...may the FORCE be with me...) I asked if they could call Sakura house for the address, and they seemed a bit reluctant. “Do you know their phone number?” they asked. "Nope, but can’t you just look it up in the internet?" Still reluctant. “Does this mean that I have to come back once more with the address in order to complete this registration” I asked. “Look, it’s a flat in Gokokuji” I continued. “Which one, Sakura house has many flats in Gokokuji” the female office attendent asked. “No, there is only two I replied” knowing this from their webpage. Eventually they came up with a huge map book. "…Shinobazu dori … Mejiro dori…Toyota building…here it is!" I said. Then they came up with another map, where the same building was encircled and obviously Sakura house was written in kanjis next to it. "Hai, do you know any of your flatmates, their nationalities?" "Well…there is one German guy which has moved out, one French-Canadian – he has also moved out… (A couple of the staff had now gathered around the screen, nodding for each of my listings). After completing this exercise, I was asked if I knew any names. And finally, after listing their names as well, they seemed to be satisfied. Big brother is really watching you in this city... They obviously had the names of all the inhabitants, most likely me as well. So why they bothered to put me under this test I don’t know, unless it was their way of getting a thrill of the day by pretending they were the Supreme Court having the chance of interrogating the suspect (that’ll be me this very day). Well, I showed them, didn’t I! And it gave me a huge satisfaction along the way. I got a temporary certificate, and was instructed to come back in two weeks time to pick up the card.

Sunday 9. October – So much for emergency numbers

While we were having conversations throughout the evening, Jessica got some pain in her stomach and withdrew to her room. Her Australian boyfriend Greg who is also working as a English teacher in Tokyo, had paid a visit. It became evident later that she had turned really ill. Trying to call the local emergency number for help around 01:00pm was not of much use, as this appeared not to be a 24 hour operated service. So Helena and me did the five minutes walk to a police booth next to the metro to get some help. She explained the situation, and guess what…a new map book. My only contribution as an apparently mute person, was to point out where we lived. One of the policemen stared quite intensively at me, while he spoke. As if he expected really ingeniously composed Japanese sentences to burst out of my mouth anytime. Which forced me to resign my rather pleasant, mute state with "Nihongo wakarimasen". "Ah", he nodded. After some discussions, one of the policemen came along with us back to the flat. He borrowed Jessicas phone, and asked if she wanted to go to hospital. I think she was a bit scared of the fact that she didn’t have the insurance number at hand and thus had to pay alot. Reasoning that it could not cost that much for an examination at first, and that they could deal with the bureacracy of getting the money back later, I urged her to go in anyway. The policeman contacted an ambulance which arrived shortly afterwards, and since it was only space to two more persons, I suggested that Helena, being the most Japanese literate of us should go along with Greg. We asked where they would take her, so we could follow in a taxi, but they couldn’t tell. So me and Martina remained in the flat, and since she was going to return back to Italy the next day she had to pack as well.

We initially thought it was Appendicitis, but the day after I got to know that they had taken Jessica to a hospital near Shinjuku and that the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with her after doing quite a few tests, so they put her on a heavy “diet” of different pills three times a day (!) for some days. At least she was better the day after. They ended up paying 30000 Yen, which didn’t seem much, taking into account all the tests she had undertaken, staying half the night for observation at the hospital and receiving a supply of pills.

Tuesday 11, October – Ni-hon-go

I left a bit late for the introduction at Kai language school, making me take the taxi the last bit. I did not have the address of the school, but I knew which streets it was enclosed by and that it was in the Miyuki building. This was apparently not enough for the taxi driver, so guess what...another mapbook. I have become really good at communicating with these people through maps the past few days. Maybe I don’t need to bother to learn Japanese at all..mapbooks works out as well... I pointed out the location, and arrived just in time.

At first we were greeted by the director of the school, Ms YAMAMOTO Hiroko (yes, they kind of prefer to put their last name first). Then we where introduced to the Senseis (teachers) and the rest of the staff at the school. We where supposedly 42 persons assigned for the courses, but only around 24 turned up for the orientation. We were divided into groups according to our speaking capabilities, and each group had their own interpreter. Ours was Anders from Sweden who had done major in Japanese there. Nothing that was of particular interest, really. Apparently this was for people just arriving Tokyo as well, so they mentioned anything from recycling garbage, alien card, to the very fact that if you where stopped by the police on a borrowed bike, and where unable to give up the name and the address of the owner, you could end up spending 3 days in jail (!).

Then there was one of the teachers speaking warmly about the Ipod. They claimed to be one of the very few schools having studymaterial that you could download to the Ipod. It was not like we’d failed the class without one, but we should really consider to get an …Ipod…if we didn’t have one already. The progress would be so much faster with an …Ipod… Ipod..bla-bla-bla…Ipod bla-bla-bla..(Careful lady, if you brag more now, you will for sure put yourself out of the business). That’s right, if they were not already sponsored by Apple, they sure would have deserved it after this performance. Then there was another round with ...don't share it with your friends...don't copy the program...got the feeling that you shouldn't even mention or show it to your friends.

Later in the evening, actually around 01:00, our latest flatmate, Gåtam, an Indian guy doing some limited period theater work here in Tokyo, was making food, bashing with cutlery and having the kitchen fan running. He had been cooking this late ever since he moved in for around a week ago. I tried to approach him politely, and eventually got into the fact that cooking food this late could pose problems for the other tenants (that’ll be me and Helena, as Jessica moved out earlier today in order to stay together with her boyfriend, and there are currently no other persons replacing the once that have left). Helena eventually came out and joined me in what was initially a plain request that had turned into a really stupid discussion. I am not going into great details about this, only that this was the most annoying experience I have had so far 2 1/2 weeks after my arrival here in Tokyo.


Wednesday 13. October – Back to the "waitu-bordu"

The day started late, as I was kind of geared up by last night’s discussion, and didn’t fall asleep until around four in the morning. I have still not been able to get into a “normal” rhythm, but at least I get some sleep (on the behalf of half the day after) as opposed to Martina, who had been rather insomniac throughout her entire (!) 3 months stay.

I thought I had good time to get to my class (starting at 13:20) having to change metro lines only once, and walk a 1.5 km at the end to get there but I misjudged, and managed to arrive 10mins late. The others where already right into it, so I just had to try to catch up.

Our afternoon class was rather small (only 8 persons, while a full class is supposed to be 15).
Quite a few nationalities were represented – Poland, China, Peru, France, Spain…and tiny Norway (whose population barely exceeds twice the amount of people rushing through Shinjuku station everyday) were represented. The teacher is a bit funny looking Japanese guy who kind of reminds me of John Cleese. Not as they could be twins or anything, but the fact that he is quite tall and slender, and there is something with the coordination of his body movements....

We actually drilled the entire Hiragana table that day (around 50 symbols). Symbols with magnets attached to them, so they would stick to the waitu-bordu. We where drilled, each one of us at a time, and as a whole group. I am not sure if I am too happy with the situation; I realised that that Helena’s (seemed-at-the-time-so-hard hiragana tests) was nothing compared to todays drill-torture. Hello…anybody out there…I am here for my vacation, and not to be enslaved amongst these competition-breeded students. Don’t you have a class for retired (no, not retarded, you dumb arse) people or something…?

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