Thursday, September 12, 2013

And they shall tell to the elders of his city: “This son of ours…"

One month has passed since I left.
Transition out of Japan has not been as emotional as I expected, and the “reverse culture shock” repatriated expats talk about has not hit me yet. Could it be that I made peace with this change during my last stay at the Zen monastery?
Or it could simply be that I still am an expat.
If you care to read them, here are a few of my observations since I am back…
There are no Japanese around here. And this, my friend, is the real cause of everything that goes wrong.
Since there are no Japanese around here, everyone is really, and I really mean “really”, loud. And intrusive. And nosy in a not so subtle way. And if they themselves can’t be loud enough, they’ll honk their car-horns or speed with their mopeds or motorbikes to cause disturbance. Especially at night. And if they’ll run out of gas they’ll find an empty beer bottle to use as a ball and play soccer in the street, in nightly competitions, rooting loudly for one another, until the bottle goes to pieces.
Since there are no Japanese around here, none cleans after their dogs in the streets. Or their horses. Or their donkeys.
Since there are no Japanese around here, many have no respect for their surroundings, or for public property or their neighbor’s. Vandalizing the environment they live in gives them a special satisfaction, and they seem to desire living in a dumpster. Which is where they truly belong.
If animal droppings were not enough, since there are no Japanese around here, people litter constantly and everywhere, apparently oblivious to the garbage bins at every corner. On auspicious days street sweepers go out, but they always manage to leave some garbage behind, here and there, as street decorations, perhaps. Or perhaps it is some sort of secret code in a game they are all playing.
Since there are no Japanese around here, time-tables are post-modern street art, or boards on which to scribble private notes and messages to one’s lover. Trains and buses are late anyway. If they run, that is.
Since there are no Japanese around here, none bows back when you greet them. Some just grunt.
Since there are no Japanese around here, you should not expect any politeness in commercial establishments. The fact that I just left in your lousy store a €50 bill is not even worthy of a smile. Don’t wait for me tomorrow.
Since there are no Japanese around here, there are not as many automatic vending machines., and the few ones (not much of a variety anyway, just cigarettes or condoms) are either jammed or your money will cause them to jam and not deliver what you just paid for. And when you'll bring this up with the person responsible for them he won’t believe you and brush you off.
Even thought there are no Japanese around here, some basic items cost as much as in my old neighborhood in Tokyo. Is this an attempt by the locals to attract Japanese customers?

But maybe I am wrong. There must be at least one Japanese around here. It must have been a Japanese who taught the local youth, drunk and high in the streets until dawn, the ancient art of paper-folding: this morning I found on our doorsteps an used tampon, gracefully folded like an origami.