So here is the nearly-forgotten English update. What an eventful time I have been having for the last several months! And it’s got just tedious to write anything in English here in my diary, as I have been preoccupied with my writing, which takes up my English brain to the full, and with work-related undertakings, which operates in Japanese. Bilingual – once a pop-vocab in Japan – is not an easy matter… Those who know me from the mid-90s may remember me as a trilingual, but that’s a long-gone glory of mine.
Then now, I’m embarking on French mastery. I mean, I’m considering (quite positively) to take up French to become able to make a basic conversation. It’s come about out of necessity. Ever since I have moved to a new home in London, I get a regular visitor, a Congonean man, for a healing session. (yes, I practise healing) This man doesn’t speak a word of English, but French (with a very heavy accent…) and for the minimum communication I need to understand French (and speak it, preferably). So far I’m learning off a dictionary, and managing just about. But obviously it’s far from sufficient.
It’s in a way a sensational experience not to know how to say things. Not generating a complex argument, but things like ‘please sit down’ and ‘how’s your pain today?’ Even to say ‘it’s cold today’ needs a bit of thinking time before saying it. Apart from that, little words like ‘before’ ‘tomorrow’ ‘up’ ‘better’ and ‘until’ shut me up because I don’t know what they are in French. It feels like a man trapped in comatose state while the conscisouness inside is alert. Or perhaps, a new-born baby with a mind of a 30-years old… very often all I can do is just to smile very archaically.
Now halfway through December, and the feel in town is a single-tone of the Christmas. What’s your best favorite present you got for your loved ones?
Oh, I was going to close this diary, but just the mention of presents reminded me of a thing about Christmas in Japan. In 2002 I was in Tokyo. It was the Christmas day, and I was on my way to work (of my fieldwork). I popped in McDonald’s. While I munched my fat-laden BigMac, I overheard a conversation between two women next to me:
"what did you get from your boyfriend?"
"well let’s have a look" (and opens a small wrapped box, produced from her viton bag)
"wow, that’s cool. Lucky you!" (apparently it’s a sort of jewellry)
"what did YOU get?"
"oh we stayed in a hotel room last night." (and you know what that means…!) "so I’ve come from the hotel room this morning and feel a bit knuckered still." (the last sentence settled it. jewelry and xxx, which is a better present???)
When you read this, just try to imagine these words were uttered in a high-pitch-high-tentioned voice, in a way typical of school girls – but actually these girls were in their… mid-20s. Two things to note: in Japan, Christmas eve is actually more "festive" than the Christmas day, and young people get "romantic" in their own way by securing "a memorable night" in a (preferably) hotel suite. The agenda of the night is, well…
So that’s the sober Christmas morning I had in Tokyo in 2002, in a McDonald’s at Shinagawa railway station.
What’s your Christmas going to be like this year?