Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Day in The Life, Nara-Style

 Y   esterday was a slowwwww day. Neither of us was ready to get up by 11 a.m. -- I don't know why, because these beds are like concrete blocks, plus it's just too cool enough to be annoying but not cool enough to put one of these massive quilts on us. There ARE no other choices.

So it was the same thing this morning, but today the uncomfortableness woke me up at six. Tai-chan could sleep through a tsunami, poor kid. He was up all night playing on his iPad Mini. I can see why his relatives want to take it away from him.

But we had a fun day anyway, just hanging out together -- it's so incredibly restful and mind-calming being with him . . . for just these two weeks every year I feel whole.

It's hard to explain; I'd be better able to explain what it's like to feel incomplete, which is how I spend the other 50 weeks of the year. He's grown so much, but he's still the same -- the same amazing sense of humor . . . and out of nowhere, it doesn't matter what we're doing -- I might be typing an email and he might be on the bed playing his game as he's been doing for 20 minutes, nothing said between us . . . and out of the blue he'll just say "I love you, Daddy," as if it had suddenly newly occurred to him.

He used to do that when he was very, very little -- those were almost the first words he learned -- and whenever he saw that I was getting in the slightest bit upset, or was brooding, or impatient, he'd hold my hand, look up at me and say "I love you, Daddy."

I asked him if his mother ever says she loves him. "No, she doesn't," he said, in a flinty voice laden with finality. "Does she ever hug you? Does anyone ever hug you or kiss you or say they love you?" I asked him, and he said, almost dismissively, "No, Daddy," as if I were asking the dumbest question in the world.

Which, of course, it is. One of my students who shall remain nameless (you know who you are) is one of my longest-lasting . . . he's told me more than once -- many times, in fact, that I'm an expert at ragging on the Japanese -- their society, their behaviour, their two-facedness, their sheer expertly-honed ability to lie and smile at the same time . . . he told me it was discouraging him from wanting to go to Japan.

It''s true. I do rag on the Japanese, simply because I know them SO WELL. I remember once, a LONG time ago, getting some sort of feeling that, yes, I could do it -- I could learn the language and the customs so well that I'd be accepted almost as one of their own in their society.

Now I know that that is one of the most laughable dreams a person could ever have. It's like saying "If I put my mind to it, I can become an astronaut and be sent to Mars." Actually, come to think of it, there are more chances of THAT happening -- maybe 100 times more chances of it happening, than to ever be accepted into the Japanese fold.

That's why I sometimes view them as a nest of vipers . . . I know that's harsh, but a nest of vipers won't do anything to you at all unless you somehow rile them. In fact, they'll pay no attention to you at all.

And that's the way things are here . . . they are individually some of the kindest and most obliging human beings ever put on this planet . . . but so are members of the Guarani tribe who live in Matto Grosso, the largest swamp in the Amazon rainforest.

ANYWAY, I doth ramble . . . here's what we did yesterday, in pictures . . .

Tai-chan, hard at work on his warbirds game. Look how gangly he's gotten . . .

At the family restaurant, Gusto, in a familiar bemused pose. Tai-chan is getting better at taking pictures

Tai-chan picking out a snack at the Lawson's on our street. It's like a 7-11

The manga selection at the convenience store. AT THE CONVENIENCE STORE.

A typical scene. Three men leafing through the mangas. It's always men, always about 30 years old.  I took this photo at 7 a.m. this morning. The guy in the back was definitely NOT amused when I tried to explain that I was taking photos for my friends back home who love mangas. A cold, icy stare was what I got. It's my guess that he was NOT reading a Japanese version of Archie and Jughead.

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