A day of receiving

It looks like half of town saw my Walk Of Fame on Tuesday, after I missed my bus (or rather, after my bus missed me). I got several comments about it–from an eikaiwa student who owns a shop that I passed a couple of times, from the daughter of one of my eikaiwa ladies (the daughter is the mother of one of my junior high students, so I’m acquainted with three generations of Yamaguchis in the town), from teachers in an elementary school I passed, and from others as well. A bit embarrassing in retrospect, especially considering that I was really booking it (I was walking in step to Muse’s new album, “Black Holes and Revelations”–more dance-ish and faster than their previous work, but really good stuff and really good to work out/walk to) and had a big scowl on my face all the while.

The shop owner, though, an advanced-level gentleman currently enrolled in my intermediate class, immediately said, after I told my class about the nightmare that was July 11th, that if I ever need a ride, I shouldn’t hesitate to stop by his store and ask him, and he’ll take me wherever in town I need to go. It was a really sweet offer, and he reminds me of my dad in some ways, like in how he talks and his general demeanor. I really appreciated it. I find it funny, though, that he remembers the name of the Atlantan suburb I’m from, but I don’t think he remembers my name.

Today, after our eikaiwa classes, I did my usual Friday afternoon routine and had lunch with several of my eikaiwa ladies, and then (since I literally have 2 hours of nothing to do until my next class, and I normally would be languishing in the elementary school’s staffroom, trying not to doze off) we went to the house of one of the ladies so that she could conduct a tea ceremony, with real matcha (the special powder-based tea used in these ceremonies) and okashi (sweets). It wasn’t as formal or stiff as a truly traditional one would be, but the lady is taking lessons and was practicing how to present the sweets and the tea, how to turn it, and even what foot to start off with when rising and walking away. I didn’t realize it was such a precise art.

The aforementioned eikaiwa lady who’s the grandmother of one of my chuugakusei (I should just start using their names, shouldn’t I?) then gave me a ride, as usual, to my afternoon elementary school class, since she lives really close to the school. Usually, when I get out of this class, I have to get a ride with a teacher because the next bus isn’t for nearly 2 hours. However, just a minute after I stepped into the staffroom, a teacher I know, a former-junior-high-JTE-turned-elementary-school teacher, ran in and said, “Smitha, did you see Yamaguchi-san? She’s waiting for you out front!” I wondered if there was some mistake, and the teachers immediately got flustered and confused as to what was going on and whether this was the same Grandma Yamaguchi that they know (the granddaughter had just graduated from that elementary school the previous March), and how on earth I knew the woman…as soon as I mentioned, “eikaiwa no seito-san,” a collective, “Aaaahhh!” went up and peace was restored again.

It was such an incredibly sweet gesture on her part, too. She’s given me rides to this school regularly because she lives just down the street and it’s only a minute or two out of her way, and today she was heading to our neighboring town, which would take her past our BOE, so she decided to come early and give me a ride. She also had been paid a visit by an old friend who has American business ties, and that friend gifted her with a ton of Washington cherries–from the state, yes–so she wanted to come by and give me some! We also stopped by the house we’d been to earlier, so she could gift some to that woman as well (the woman was stunned, because she’s never actually seen real cherries before–I guess they aren’t grown very often in Japan?), and she asked me if I like cucumbers and ran inside and brought me out a bag with cucumbers and tomatoes from her garden. (She must have been psychic, because as soon as she said it, I started thinking, “Hmm, some of that refreshing pasta Lindsay got me hooked on, with plain pasta and cucumbers and tomatoes, would be really good on a day like today…”) She also gave me a ton of fresh basil and chives last fall. God, the basil was incredible. I also tried to make mashed potatoes so I could include the chives.)

Well, anyway, I survived to the end of the week–and now I’m not sure what to do with myself. I have a ton of cleaning to do, which I intend to spend all of tomorrow doing so I can go take day trips Sunday and Monday to Okayama and Naruto (and come back to see the Gion Matsuri fireworks in town Sunday night!).

I finally watched Ray last night, which I’d rented last Friday and is due tonight, and it was surprisingly good, if a little hasty from time to time in its transitions. I went on a major nostalgia kick, particularly during the scene where they recorded “Georgia On My Mind” (that scene was also a bit disconcerting, because of all his songs, I know that one the best, and hearing the exact version of the song I knew being used in the film made me really see that Jamie Foxx was lip-synching, a fact that I knew, but it was easier to suspend my disbelief with songs I wasn’t as close to), though it was promptly ruined by the jealous backup singer ripping it to shreds a second later, but it was restored when they reenacted the un-banning of Ray Charles’s music from Georgia and the instatement of “Georgia On My Mind” as the state song.

And as soon as I turned off the movie to rewind it, I discovered that of all things, Monsoon Wedding was playing on NHK-BS2! I stayed up and watched it for a little while…the first time I’d seen it I wasn’t thrilled with it because the bride is a stuck-up, selfish, unfaithful brat. This time–well, she still is–but I was smiling because it was such a pure and faithful demonstration of true Indian culture, and it felt great to watch it and truly understand the subtleties and social dynamics of those situations, which I’ve only experienced sparingly this past year. I took the film for granted when I saw those things regularly when living in the US. It was also cool to see really, really good, genuine acting by Indians outside a Bollywood/musical context. What wasn’t cool, though, was that one of the very first quotes I heard was the older sister of the bride, in her 20s or 30s, telling a little girl, “How come you’re still here?”, only to have the girl reply snarkily, “How come you’re still not married?” I actually blurted, “AUGH. Obnoxious girl. Die now.” (Kidding, of course!)

And yet again, I’ve succeeded in writing a ton about almost nothing. How about that?

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