Lengthy recap

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything truly substantial in here. I’ve been trying to compile a mental list of things I should mention that have happened, but every time I start, I get distracted and it becomes all scattered again.

(I’m sure you guys have missed these novella-length messages, haven’t you? They’re baaaaack!)

I went with Brian and Jane to see The Marriage of Figaro in Tokushima City two Thursdays ago. It was actually my first opera (I’m really not a fan of Mozart or opera in general), but it was interesting. It was nice to hear a live orchestra again, certainly.

The following week, I just felt really tired, and ended up taking Wednesday and Thursday off, as mentioned in the last post. I was still out of it Friday, but I felt better over the weekend.

On Saturday, I booked my plane tickets back to Atlanta for the holidays. I’ll be there from December 20 to January 5–I’m flying in and out of Tokyo-Narita, instead of Kansai. They offered me an incredible deal on domestic airfare (roughly 50% off), between Tokyo-Haneda and Takamatsu, but I need to look into what other options I have, like an overnight bus or overnight train. Another nice thing is that I’m arriving on the Saturday of a long weekend, so provided I’m not incredibly jetlagged (and I probably will be–I remember fighting to stay awake until 6:45 PM, waiting for the baggage deliveryman to arrive the day after I returned to Japan this summer), I have almost 2 days to spend in Tokyo if I want.

That evening, we had an impromptu Animation Night at Brian’s house (“we” meaning Brian, his adorable but overly rambunctious kitten Yukino, and me), where we caught up on the last 4 episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender and watched a subtitled copy of Howl’s Moving Castle/Hauru no Ugokushiro. There was also a major comedy of errors as we tried to tell the Pizza Royal Hat delivery people exactly how to get to his house, as my Japanese skills proceeded to go completely out the window for the duration of the phone call.

Sunday, I went up to Zentsuji, #75 on the 88-temple pilgrimage and well into Kagawa Prefecture. I caught the train there (first time in a while) and spent a couple of hours at the temple complex–it was really beautiful. There were a surprising number of henro, but quite a few of them were heading towards a large chartered bus when I caught a glimpse of the parking lot, so they weren’t all the hard-core, see-the-88-on-foot pilgrims. I was really taken by this complex, and I know that if I do have friends come visit me, I’ll definitely take them there.

Another really awesome find in the area was an Indian restaurant–Tonari no Indo-jin, which I’d heard about from other ALTs, but which I’d also heard had closed. It totally hadn’t! Unfortunately, I got there just a bit too late for lunch, so I ate at another local cafe and then caught a train back into town.

That evening, I decided to go for a drive to find the parking lot for the Hashikura Temple, another non-pilgrimage temple in Ikeda. I found it and then figured I’d just keep driving a little more…except “a little more” ended up carrying me a lot further north than I realized, and by the time I finally pulled over, I was most of the way to Kotohira, the town south of Zentsuji. It was dinnertime, so I figured, why not? and continued to head up north and had dinner at the Indian restaurant. It ended up being the BEST Indian food I’ve had in Japan so far! They had authentic samosas, which were even better than some I’ve eaten in the US. (That pretty much settles its awesomeness right there. It helps that the chef offered me real mint chutney to go with them!) It was surprisingly full, so I was seated right next to the kitchen area, and ended up chatting with the Indian chef (a guy from Delhi, who’d worked in bigger restaurants in the Kansai area before deciding he wanted to work in a small town, so he came here 3 months ago–I was his first South Asian customer, and he was thrilled) and the Japanese waitress (and owner? I was absolutely astonished to learn that she spoke fluent Hindi, and had traveled all over South Asia, and that the salwar she was wearing was one of 10 she owned!). She and I traded e-mail and cellphone e-mail addresses.

On Monday, I had another stomach attack. I kind of brought it on myself by not eating too well last week while I was sick, though, and then overdoing the not-exactly-best-for-my-stomach-lining foods on Sunday.

And today, after a rather insomniac night of lying down to get over 7 hours of sleep and only getting less than 5 instead, I discovered that it is indeed possible to make rasam that still tastes good when all you have are water, tomatoes, coriander, and rasam powder, and no lentils or tamarind. It had no real health value, but it tasted good and was soothing on my stomach.

I’m also still waiting on my books from Amazon.jp–the very first order I placed, about a year ago, shipped within two days. It’s been over a week and this order’s status is still listed as “Not yet shipped!” It figures, since these books are actual necessities–a GRE verbal prep guide and several media studies texts. If possible, I’d love to take the GRE during the last weekend of this month, though I know that’s pretty soon. (The weekend before, we have part 1 of our midyear conference and the initial planning meeting for the 2007 musical, and the weekend after is a long weekend, during which I want to go somewhere–maybe even back to Kyushu, to give Unzen and Aso their due attention, weather permitting, of course. Maybe I’ll just put them off till the spring and go somewhere else.)

The evenings are getting chilly now–well, low 60s (Fahrenheit). But my hands and feet are cold, and I’m really tempted to pull out my kotatsubuton It’s definitely colder than it was last year, so I foresee a colder winter season than last year. Even though I know the coldest weather won’t come until January or even February, I still feel glad that I can experience central heating and insulation for at least part of this winter vacation.

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