Thursday, March 17, 2005


A couple of weeks ago, after exhausting myself grocery shopping at the local Coop I stopped in a nearby coffee shop for a sit down and a coffee, and to read for a while. While I was there a couple of guys came in and sat at the table next to me. I didn't pay any attention until the one sitting opposite started speaking English. He was Japanese. I didn't look at the other guy, because he was right beside me, and it's difficult to turn and look at the person sitting right beside you. You never know, they might be looking right back, and what if it turns out to be someone creepy?

They continued to converse in a mixture of Japanese and English, and pretty soon I started to realize that the guy sitting beside me was not Japanese. His English wasn't native English, but it wasn't Japanese English either. He used more Japanese than English, but the Japanese guy used more English than Japanese. It was very confusing, and I couldn't concentrate on my book. They were talking about some classes they were both attending. They also talked about coffee and gemstones.

I was getting curiouser and curiouser, especially because the guy sitting next to me had a lovely voice. I wanted to see whether he had a face to go with the lovely voice. Finally the Japanese guy got up and went to the toilet, and I risked a peek at the guy beside me.

Naturally he was looking straight at me, and the moment I peeked he said hello. He had a nice face. Not a handsome face, but a nice, rugged, friendly face, so I said hello back, and we had a brief conversation. It went like this:

"Where are you from?"

"New Zealand."

"Oh, New Zeeeeeealand! I'm from Guatemala."

"I don't think I've ever met anybody from Guatemala before."

"Oh, there are a lot of Guatemalans in Japan."


"Yes. Twenty six."

Then the Japanese guy came back and started talking, and my Guatemalan friend and I smiled that foreigners-in-Japan-all-in-the-same-leaky-boat smile at each other, and I went back to my book.

I would have liked to talk with him some more, but at least I can now say that I have met one twenty-sixth of Japan's entire Guatemalan population.

Population of Japan: 127,000,000
Population of Guatemalans in Japan: 26


librarianguish said...

I love it! Do you suppose they all live in the same general area? I imagine they would want to stick together.

Twenty six. How many people from, say, Venezuela or Ecuador do you think there might be in Japan? (you don't really need to answer that)

Thanks for the crochet link!

Andy said...

26 seems rather specfic. Maybe they have their own little blog ring...

Anonymous said...

Wait, so how do you know that there are 26 Guatemalans living in Japan??? Is that a fac??