J love

10 10 2007

My trips to Sapporo have generally been of the consumerist vibe. I wander. I shop. I eat. Sometimes I sit through lectures while I’m hungover beyond belief. But this time, I actually had straight up Japanese experiences that weren’t in the traditional watch-and-observe sort of way. Before I write about that, though, I’d like to put props in for the best Indian Restaurant (and maybe the only one) in Hokkaido.

Japan loves its curry rice, but Taj Mahal is straight up Indian* food served like it should be: in a room with flashing lights, paintings from the Kama Sutra and other ridiculously excessive décor, but most amazingly, INDIAN PEOPLE. I am surprised to see white people in Japan. Flabbergasted when I see black people. But Indian people?! Indian people?!! Wowzers! AND they spoke Japanese (and English)! This was cross-culturalism at its finest, and I was damn glad to be part of it. Besides my amazement at this, the food was great and relatively affordable, and the staff was incredibly nice. A manager also found a way to sneak in a speech about Shiva’s third eye. Maybe they’re secretly (and slowly) converting the Japanese to Hinduism? We’ll see how that goes.

Back to my more personal story.

This weekend was a friend’s birthday, and as I said last time, it promised to be a shitshow (promise fulfilled). With the England-Australia rugby game (which I had little to no interest in) going on in the background, I turned my attention elsewhere. Luckily, there was a Japanese girl sitting next to me, and I was a little tipsy, so I decided to see how far I could get with my Japanese.

Well, my Japanese got me as far as five hours of conversation that night, and another three the next. I was pleasantly surprised that after only two months here, I was able to carry on such a long conversation with a stranger who only spoke as much English as a junior high graduate.

Unfortunately it was marred when the JET handbook came back to haunt my mind yet again. In the brief essay on dating Japanese women, it mentions a few things. One is that they might be using you for your English skills. The other is only hinted at and is more common as oral folklore: that women may try to get pregnant so that they can ensnare themselves a brand new Western husband. Now, I’ve always taken the handbook with a grain of salt. Heck, even a shaker of salt at times. But it still manages poisons my mind to think that I’m not adapting well, or that I’m thinking about the wrong things, or that I’m possibly getting involved with a woman with different motives than I would expect.

I don’t know if that was actually the case, but I worried about it enough. There were innocuous bits and pieces of our conversation throughout the night that, in the context of the handbook, led me to believe I was being used as an English teacher. Namely her saying she wants me to speak English with her when we spend time together. But that could just means she wants to try using English, not that she only wants to talk to me for that purpose. I found out she lied to me about her age (by eight years), after which my friend told me to watch out for the whole pregnancy tactic. Anyway, with these thoughts running through my head, we parted ways.

Thankfully, even in Japan, you can’t get a woman pregnant by talking to her.

* There actually is one major difference: apparently, Japanese people freaked out when the curried rice was not made from the usual white, sticky rice. So the curried rice at Taj is not long grain or basmati, but regular white rice.




One response

25 10 2007

Aren’t we are “users” of each other’s language skills though? Isn’t that how cross-cultural/language conversations work at times? You said you wanted to see how far you could get with your Japanese, and I’m sure you learned a few phrases from the woman. And vice versa for her…As for trying to get a Western husband by getting pregnant, that’s certainly true and I’ve heard of it in China, Korea, and Japan… I assume it happens in many other countries. Regardless of whether we are rich or poor here, when we travel with an American flare/accent/look I think we are often mistaken for being very wealthy…unless maybe if we say “I’m a student.” Haha that gets you far in China at least, when elders are around. Oh and I haven’t forgotten about the elephant story. Will tell soon.

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