Language and culture

It was interesting, talking to an Indian man last night and having the only common language between us be Japanese. I’m not used to that–I’ve been under the impression that a lot of Indians speak English due to the British influence in India, but I guess not. (This was the chef at Masala, the restaurant on the 5th floor of Tokushima station that serves mediocre curry and amazing naan.)

I was in Tokushima yesterday afternoon and evening, just hanging out and getting out of Ikeda for a while. I’m starting to stock up on more winter clothes (I love you, Uniqlo), though my furniture situation is still unchanged, but my supervisor’s thinking about what we can do. I also took a look at some jackets–really expensive, but I’d imagine the price would be similar at home; I’ve never bought a real, heavy winter jacket before. I just have a knee-length wool coat. I haven’t made any purchases yet, but I may have to soon.

I had another fun language encounter this evening, when I went by the 100-yen store to try to find dehumidifiers, except I couldn’t remember the Japanese word for “dehumidifier,” so I tried to explain that I wanted a plastic box that makes the air not humid…except apparently “mushiatsui” doesn’t mean humid, because the really nice and well-meaning (and cute) clerk kept asking, “Samui? Cold?” He finally pulled out a pad and a pen and I sketched it, and he figured it out, only to realize that it was sold out. Boo.

So, happy Halloween, and happy early Diwali/Deepavali/however-you-spell-it. No costume this year, and my 100-yen reindeer antlers finally broke beyond repair (it cracked my kids up today to see me walking around class with one droopy antler, though), but that’s all right–helping a bunch of kids to make masks of their own was dressing up enough for me. I have a few photos I’ll post soon, whenever I get around to downloading and editing my photos. (And Aimee–I did snap some photos of the river/fault area for you, when I was walking from the train station to my school this morning. Hopefully you’ll see something of interest there.)

Tomorrow I have a class that I’m stressing over…it’s a double-length class at the school I go to every other week (but this’ll be the first time in a month that I’ve been there–I’m going there 4 out of the 5 Tuesdays in this month, actually), which is stressful in and of itself, but it wouldn’t be bad except that the kids’ parents and apparently people from the community want to sit in and watch it! I would have easily spent at least half the class doing the Halloween party thing, but that’s obviously a no-go for tomorrow. So right now, I want to spend one half talking about Halloween and its equivalent in other cultures (Japan has one called Obon, Spain has La Dia de los Muertos, and there are plenty more), and I want to spend the other half talking about Diwali. I just don’t want it to be boring…for the Diwali half, I’m hoping to do illustrations of the Ramayana story that inspires the North Indian celebrations (the South India one is a little less auspicious–a battle between Krishna and some demon/evil force–but the Northern story just makes for better storytelling because it’s detailed and longer–time’s my big concern), and while it would be cool to attempt to do some religious art, since Hindu art is absolutely beautiful, I may have to take some liberties and chibi-fy everything so the kids will have more fun with it. (Sorry, gods.) I also want to show the kids examples of kolam and give them paper with dots on it so they can try to draw their own. I’m just trying to figure out how to make this all a little less boring, the first half in particular.

It’s funny how Japan is putting me in touch with my own roots so much. I just hope that what I found online is accurate. (Mom and Dad, I may be giving you a call tonight just to verify my facts.)

And in the spirit of Diwali, I’m finally going to use the new vacuum I bought a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never vacuumed in the 3 months I’ve lived here–I’ve dusted fairly regularly, but a tatami room throws a lot of particles into the air just by virtue of being what it is. I had a couple of books sitting on the floor for a couple of days and I had to wipe them off when I picked them up.

Okay, time to get to work…I’ve been thinking about putting together a photographic Day In The Life, and just taking photos of my daily routine and all my schools over the next couple of weeks and compiling them online somewhere. Let’s see how that goes–now that I’m back online, I’ve been trying to work on an update for my Pirates of Dark Water website, and I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to motivate myself to do any serious web work. I think the fact that I’m on a laptop (instead of having a separate keyboard and monitor) and sitting on the floor (instead of at a desk) is contributing to that. That’s also why I haven’t been updating my Flickr account too much. Well, hopefully I’ll get it all together soon, so I can keep you all updated and keep on top of my design/web coding skills.

Anyway! Later, guys. :o)

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