Thursday, October 21, 2004

My Name Is...

I got a bit caught up in the thread of my narrative yesterday and forgot one of my points. Japanese people have a reputation abroad for being thorough on introductions. In many business situations I have found this to be true. However, in places like this doctor's office, things are different. During my whole inspection, my doctor never introduced himself. When I went for a job interview I was greeted in the lobby of the office and taken to a cafe before my host introduced himself. This is not at all uncommon here, while in the US, even your waiter may introduce themselves. Everyone here has a name tag, but never introduces themselves. This makes me uncomfortable somehow. It also makes me nervous that moms don't hold their kid's hands when crossing the streets.

Today I completed my ballot, sealed it in the twin envelopes it came with, and will be sending it back to Petersham during my lunch break tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Jacob Goes to the Doctor

After my boss came back from vacation, I was able to ask him for my health insurance card. Of course I hadn't thought to check up on it before I had become sick. Armed with my new card I walked a couple blocks to the nearby branch of the city hospital.

I had been expecting a dour government edifice and crammed aisles, like City Hall here. Instead, this was a modern, airy building with huge windows and good seating. The windows in the stairwells were so nice in fact that I almost tripped while looking out of one.

After some registration paperwork on one floor I was directed upstairs for a more involved questionnaire. This involved several trips between my seat and the counter for some kanji to be read for me. These counter workers didn't seem as used to or as happy to deal with this as had those in reception. On my third visit they just sent me back to the Doctor himself, who spoke English.

This made it not long before the inspection was over and I had a prescription in my hand. Another visit to the first floor to pay the $10 visit fee and then I was directed across the street to the pharmacy. I was a little alarmed that I might be going to the wrong place as I watched at least four people watch me approach through the windows. As soon as I opened the door they livened right up. They produced my pills after almost no wait, but the explanation took rather longer. Fortunately I had brought my pocket dictionary, which the pharmacist used expertly. She would simply point at the English word she sought. After some significant effort on her part she had explained everything to me in Japanese and finished with a coup de grace; a full English sentence: "Please take good care of yourself." I thanked her for her efforts and left smiling.

These drugs seem to be working well, but it's hard to say. I'm definitely getting much better. Still coughing hard at times and having trouble sleeping though.

I also got my absentee ballot today! Finally! However, a typhoon arrived around the same time so I'm waiting for the ballot to dry before I can actually use it to vote. Perhaps tomorrow. Go Red Sox!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Still Sick in Saitama

Hi folks. It's been more than a week since I came down with this flu thing now, and it feels like it hasn't budged in days. I succumbed to over-the-counter fever and cough suppressants two days ago. They help but wear off after several hours. The worst parts are the intense coughs now. At least I'm starting to sleep a little again.

I've also been struggling with the kerosene space heater we have in the apartment. My roommate was able to start it with the flick of one hand while I was rushing out the door this morning. I haven't been able to replicate his move, no matter how many times I try. It baffles me how a device with one slider and an OFF button can be so hard to light.

The toilet is a similar case here. It's in fact a water closet mounted to the underside of the ceiling with some snaking duct-work feeding to the squat basin on the floor. There's only a single pull handle on a chain for a control here. You must gauge the power of the pull and the timing of the release to the fine expectations of the original craftsmen. Otherwise you get a pathetic stream of water and must wait for the tank to fill again. It took me many weeks to get this one right everytime.

Recently I've been thinking more about the comforts of Ye Olde Petersham.

* * *

In the defense of this place though, I never intended to live here for more than a couple of months. It's been more than four now. I would never have picked a place so spartan. This is because I actually like spending time in my apartment. Even when I'm not sick. My roommate, who doesn't spend much time here at all, is the one who picked it. I just moved in months later.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

A Couple of Photos & an Earthquake

First, here are two photos: Fabian, Jacob, and Phillip and Jacob in front of Louis Vuitton.

In other news, Mother Nature has been active in Japan recently. Currently we're in the middle of a large typoon. It should be out the other side of Tokyo before midnight though. Heavy rain is blowing hard against my window and many train lines are stopped, according to NHK, which is running constant coverage. This features mostly strong wind and rain blowing umbrellas inside out, the occasional shot of water spurting up through manhole covers, and school girls wading through water in Shibuya.

Two days ago we got hit by a decent-sized earthquake. It struck while I was in the middle of taking a step in my apartment. My first thought was "am I really that tired that I can't even walk properly?" The floor shook considerably for a good thirty seconds or so. Nothing fell over though. That was my biggest quake so far.