Monday, 19 October 2009


If I could describe today, October 19th 2009, the one word I would choose would be 'phone'. It has been a long long day. Though my head is full of words,my eyelids feel heavy and I am looking forward to drifting to sleep tonight.

Today started with a missed alarm. When my Japanese phone runs out of battery, it won't sound a previously set alarm. This happened last night and this morning, I woke up at the horribly late time of 8.00am....I have to be at school for 8.15am. I arrived at school with some hastily applied mascara and the biggest bed head hair known to the Japanese population. The first thing Ohmiya-sensei said to me when I reached school was 'Oh Isabel, you look very different today' ha!

After school, I went to my ukulele class in a small town just outside Takamatsu city. I have to take a bus along a big highway, which drops me off at a shopping mall. From there, it is a very long walk to the school. It was dark and cold tonight so I decided to jump in a taxi. My ukulele class was lovely; there are eight Japanese people, myself and the teacher Jeremy, who is from Hawaii.Jeremy has lived in Japan for a long time and as everybody in the class apart from me is Japanese, he speaks in Japanese for the whole class. I can pick out some words, but for the most part, the Japanese washes over me. It is nice however to be constantly hearing it and tonight I learnt the Japanese words for 'chord', 'strum' and 'chorus' We played sweet ukulele music and some people sang - it was so cute :-)

When the class had ended and I was fishing around in my bag for my phone, I could not find it. I had left it in the taxi. Disaster. I got that dreaded knot of fear in my stomach. Apples are expensive here, I felt nauseous at the thought of how much a lost phone would cost to replace. By this point, Jeremy had left and I was in the company of two ladies, both of whom had very little English. I managed to tell them what had happened. They were so sweet and kind, called up the taxi company and within minutes, my phone was returned to me. I have never felt such relief and also amazement at how super efficient the 'getting phone back' operation turned out to be. The two ladies then drove me all the way back to the station so that I could catch my train back to Marugame. We could barely understand eachother, yet they showed such genuine kindness that I cried in the car (surprise surprise, I seem to be even more sentimental than usual since moving to Japan). They kept laughing and saying 'ahh, soft heart lady, soft heart lady!' I love made up Japanese English. When one learns a language, or has very little knowledge of a language, it is difficult/impossible to use linguistic subtlety. As a result, I think that things are said with a simplicity and honesty that I find to be very beautiful.

* MORE SCATTERBRAINED MISHAPS* 1. Once on the train, I realised that in my lost phone panic, I had left my Japanese study books and diary at the ukulele class. I shall think about this tomorrow...

2. Back at my apartment, I was making some tea and smelt an awful burning smell....the teatowel had caught fire. Gah, I need to go to bed!

I had a proper conversation with two of my boy students at school today.
Ono and Fujii are third graders so they are eighteen years old. The last time I saw them was at a lesson in which we talked about our favourite songs. I played an Arcade Fire song. Arcade Fire are Ono's favourite band and I could see his face light up when I played the cd. I love that music is such a universal language.I experienced that both in my ukulele class and with Ono. We sat with our iPods for ages, telling eachother about different bands. On Friday, we are going to swap mix cds :-) Fujii hopes to go to Kobe University to study English and Chinese. He told me about Tor Road in Kobe. It's an area full of delicious bakeries and shops full of handmade treasures. I am going to go back to Kobe as soon as I can. Although at times, it is difficult to teach older kids, (they are not so fickle,and a handful think that they are too cool, so it takes some time to gain their trust and respect.) one of the things I do like is that I am so close in age to the third graders that it is possible to make friendships with them. I have a little book (well, I did before I left it at the ukulele class) full of recommendations from my students; good shops to go to in Takamatsu, bands to listen to, books and magazines to read. I really like going to school at Maruko.

I'm not sure what my plans for this weekend are, but the Autumnal hibernation that my camera is curently enjoying, deep in the depths of my bag, will come to an end as I take some pictures. It has been a while.

Oyasumi nasai.


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