Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This morning after waking up (but barely) I asked my kind host which way we'd gone to that nice cafe on my first day here. I thought I might try to walk there. Everybody uses a car here, but I'm on foot, and wasn't ready to accept the bus challenge yet. I remembered that getting to the cafe was either turn left or turn right upon exiting the driveway, and then straight until you got to it, but couldn't remember if it was left or right. Nor could I remember how far it was.

"Which way was it to get to the cafe?" I asked.

"Left," said my kind host.

Later, after he'd gone to work and I had had a cup of tea and begun to wake up properly, I decided it was time to venture out the door, braving the frightening alarm system. (I set it off yesterday accidentally when my brother came to pick me up, and my ears are still ringing.) I set the alarm, locked the door hurriedly as it screamed briefly and terrifyingly at me (it's supposed to do that), and, nerves jangling, walked to the end of the driveway.

There I stopped and tried to remember which way my kind host had told me to go. Was it left? Or right? Apparently my brain had blanked out his answer. I went the way that looked right to me, based on the shaky memory of the sleep-deprived person I was two days ago. I turned, excitingly, right.

Actually I'm still not sure about this. Maybe he DID say right, and it was just a lot further to the cafe than I thought it was. I did not find the cafe. I did, however, find a bank, and a few shops where I could get things I'd forgotten to pack (sun screen!) and I stopped at an Indian takeaway and had a mango lassi. While I was drinking that my brother called and offered to pick me up to take me to get my licence renewed. He said he'd be an hour or so, so I walked back to my temperory home. It took about forty minutes.

Pedestrians are so rare that everybody stares at you. It just isn't done to walk in the suburbs, apparently. This is not surprising really, given that it took so long to get to somewhere that was hardly worth getting to, but still! I expected that things might have become a little more pedestrian-friendly, given the high level of environmental consciousness (at least compared to Japan). But apparently people are very, very attached to their cars. You see an awful lot of large cars on the road with one person in them, and it all looks so very WASTEFUL.

Tomorrow I will bravely attempt to decipher the bus system. I have to go back to the licence place, and although my brother has offered to drive me there again I intend to try it in the morning via bus. (I will probably call him to be rescued in the afternoon, from whichever suburb I have ended up in.)

I am missing my bicycle!

Oh, and there is one more thing I forgot to tell you about yesterday, which I have decided to hide down the bottom of this post because I'm a little ashamed of myself. Anyone with enough patience to read this far has my permission to slap my wrist over this one. You have earned the right.

My nephews wanted to know about the Japanese language as we were walking down to the beach yesterday. I taught them how to say 'yes.'

"Hai!" I said, and they repeated it after me.

"That's easy!" said the starting-to-be-six year old. "Teach us something difficult."

I thought for a moment.

"All right," I said. "Here's a bit more difficult word: ABUNAI!"

"ABUNAI!" shouted my nephews. "What does it mean?"

"'Dangerous'! or 'Watch out'!" I said. "Whenever you see a Japanese person you should suddenly shout ABUNAI! and point behind them. It will give them a nice big fright."

They thought that was a brilliant idea.

I'm a little embarrassed about this episode now. I don't know what came over me.

With a bit of luck they'll have forgotten by now anyway, but just in case they haven't, I hereby apologize to any Japanese person who has been or will be unpleasantly surprised by my nephews. Please do not blame them. It was not their fault.

They were just following instructions.


kenju said...

YOu're too funny! and you're a good aunt.

Shyam said...

Terrible person, but a good aunt :D

Carrie said...

*lol* And now we know why you call yourself Bad Aunt!

Keera Ann Fox said...

You should apologize to any unpleasantly surprised Japanese not unpleasantly surprised by your nephews. They aren't the only ones who can follow instructions. ;-)

Lia said...

Pretty funny. And now at least I know two words in Japanese.

How about the most important foreign language phrase: "I don't understand. Do you speak English?"

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