27 May 2007

A little post script

The geek list wouldn't be quite complete without this little confession added to it.

8. retail therapy means going to the electronics store and lusting at the new Mac desktops. Not just lusting, literally drooling over it.

Handbags? Shoes? Clothes?? Naah... iWant iMac.

Did I mention
9. Arun treated me to an iPod?

25 May 2007

Pirates 3

I booked tickets well in advance, best seat in the house and all that jazz, first day first show, and since we happen to have babysitting, no need to drag the kids around, and with all enthusiasm off we went to watch 'Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End'.

Arun and I are big fans of the Pirates franchise. Or rather, we were. We loved the first, thought the second was alright. The latest was weird to say the least.

Somehow the sequels just don't live up to the high standards I expected after Pirates 1. This one was even quite gross in bits. The story was like soup poured on an inverted plate; kept running around all over the place. Too many characters, plot lines, plots, loose ends.... and an ending that was left wide open for a sequel. Any number of sequels. Well, let's just say if Walt Disney was really interested in building up a Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, they could have gone for a mini series or something.

I'm definitely not going to add spoilers here, but like someone says of Capt. Jack Sparrow: "Is he making this up as he goes along?"

24 May 2007

What have I become?

After over a year in Japan am I the same person I used to be? Have I become someone else totally?

According to Hemu, I've changed. He thinks I'm a geek. Hemu defines geek as "someone who has abnormal love/interest in gadgets and technology, high IQ and good at math.. etc".

I'm quite flattered someone thinks I've got a high IQ. I have my doubts about the math bit.

So I asked Hemu to elucidate, and he brought forth this list.

I quote:
1. you dual boot
2. you hate windoze
3. you use bittorent
4. you have a mac
5. you worry about templates and fonts
6. you blog!!!
7. you have multiple blogs


Hmmm.. if that's the case, I'm now a (certified) geek. And proud if it too......

18 May 2007

No letters??

'R' was the only one who mailed me her address, and got me started on my (almost) New Year's resolution to start writing letters. And I must say my handwriting is getting better. Doesn't anyone else want a letter?

Where are all you letter-writers from days gone by?? Come on people, let's get started again!

And on a lighter note... Dear R, if you were to write which country the letter is to be delivered to, it might get to me earlier. I doubt average Joe postman knows where Tsuruoka is. Please mention Japan in your next letter....


... on a more positive note, I can now write decently enough in Japanese to ask the lady sitting next to me in the PTA what the time is? Or is this meeting over yet?

If that's rude, and not quite done, I wonder how many degrees I need to bow to assure them I won't do that again?

Further adventures of a Gaijin in Shonai

What is it about the air in Shonai that seems to wash away my non-existent good sense?

First I (mis)volunteer as a something or the other to the school board. I found out that I am a Kanji. What the heck is a Kanji, you ask??

Hmmm let me see. Kanji is the name given to the Chinese characters used in Japanese writing. Kanji is also the name of traditional rice gruel. And according to Wikipedia it's also the name of a kind of shrub in Australia.

So which of that applies to me? None of the above, I guess. By some obscure logic, I'm the kind of Kanji that means classroom manager. I have enough trouble being a mom, and I'm a classroom manager?? God help us, why on earth am I paying exorbitant fees to the school if I am to be called a classroom manager? And I'm called Kanji-san.... Darned of that doesn't make me sound like 'respected rice gruel'.

Last week, a friend told us of a very interesting incident. Apparently, her nephew came out second best in a classroom disagreement. And one fine Sunday morning, the winner of said argument came over to his house with a battalion of family, bowed deeply and expressed a profound apology.

I thought that was carrying schoolroom politics a little too far.

Today the PTA called parents to school to observe our little ones in class. OK. Now, I thought, I finally can see for myself what Aditi does at school. Aditi always refuses to talk about school once she gets home.

When I got there, I saw kids running around, playing and generally having a good time in the school's indoor play area. And parents standing around in groups watching kids play. And there was the usual greet-and-bow-thingie going on. Once playtime was on in earnest the tone changed.

For example, Aditi got pushed by one little kid, and his mom came over to apologize, with a deep bow. Another kid hit his friend on the head, and his mom ran to that kid's mom and bowed in apology.

What the heck? People, this is nursery school... let the kids sort out their issues... or non-issues. Is this a school-playground or a corporate boardroom?? I'd rather the kids settled these issues themselves. I realise that in Japan, the sincerity of an apology depends on the depth of your bow, but this is a little ridiculous. Actually, this is absurd.

After Aditi came out second best in another little altercation, I told her to go to her sensei and settle matters. Not ask me to intervene. Call me an ignorant Gaijin, but I told the apologetic mother that it was not our problem. Of course, if she'd bowed any lower, she could have touched her knees with her nose. She could teach Sony Corp a thing or two.

What can I say about my schoolroom (mis)adventures in Japan? Looks like this is just the beginning. Just one month into Kindergarten, and I'm in deep... er... let's just say I have no clue what I'm upto. And in a few years time, Avani will get into kindergarten too, and hopefully by then I'll have developed some good sense. Or I'll be in a country where I don't need to bow to express my humility regarding my kid's conduct.

Hopefully, I won't be called Madame Rice Gruel ever again.


05 May 2007

Spring is here, so they say

After a long winter, the sun decided to shine with a vengeance over the last few weeks. On selected days of course. The trees in the friendly neighbourhood park started to sprout pink buds, and one fine day, the park was covered by a canopy of white sakura, tinged with the faintest blush of pink.

I came home and declared 'Hanami 2007' open.

Whenever I heard or read about 'Hanami' (before I came to Japan), I always had this feeling that it was a big fuss about a few flowers. Last year, soon after we landed here, I saw sakura in bloom for the first time in my life, and i was awed. It had to be the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. But still, I thought it was a bit of a fuss. And I was busy, getting started with our life in Japan.

Winter here is long.... really long. Since we got here, we put away our warm clothes for all of 7 weeks. We got here in spring, and it rained almost all the time. July and August were unbelievably hot and humid, and come September, we started wearing warm clothes again. Then winter set in in earnest. And went on for just about forever. Then the snow melted, and one fine day, the cherry trees bloomed. And told me to dump the heavier jackets for now.

The sight of sakura trees in full bloom is incomparable. Just lush flowers, not a single green leaf to be seen on the trees. And after about a week, the flowers just wither away, and the trees are clothed in tender green leaves. And I know for sure the bad weather's gone. For now.

Everyday that the sky was clear, I bundled everyone out of the house, packed up whatever food was cooked, and lo.. picnic time! And after each picnic, a walk around the park, taking in the beauty of sakura in full bloom.

Of course, we didn't stop with sakura. We went to the nearby town of Yutagawa to watch the apricot blossoms, to Sakata to look at more sakura, and finally last week to Yunohama to see acres of tulip fields.

Tulips?? Yes, tulips... Tulips as far as the eye can see, in so many colours! Of course, there are lots of Japanese tourists in Amsterdam too, but trust me, I am still in the heart of good old Japan. And Arun decided to serenade me.

Earlier today a friend invited us out to a picnic. We are off to see more flowers tomorrow. And that too Mustard blooms!

Gawd, if Arun starts to sing again, I'll flip!!! Or I'll sing right back at him!