Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another way to Google / To China

So what else can one do with Google at 1:30 am in the morning when travel plans don't seem to be going anywhere and suddenly the most gigantic cockroach show up at your ceiling?

I realized that Google could in some ways provide some kind of emotional support. Not a whole lot, but at least it helped me procrastinate somewhat before resorting to the final end - to kill it.

Sigh ... I never know how my mom does it. With one simple snap, she could terminate the lives of most cockroach visitors at home. And living in TW, we tend to have a lot.

On a slightly different note ...

I'm getting ready to go to China for a 12-day trip. I almost forgot how bureaucratic China could be at times till I called the hostel that I planned on staying in. When I inquired about the possibility of having them reserve train tickets for me, this is the answer that I got:

"We could only reserve it if you pay by cash and pay right away. We can't hold them for you without you paying first."

Then a simple click, the lady hung out.

Fine, I'll try again, this time, in English.

"Yes, we can reserve train tickets for you. What day do you want and which time? ... Ok ok, we'll let you know the details when you come."

Then another click, she hung up on me again!

At least there was a slight little advance of answer huh?

Then this morning, I got an email reply from the hostel. I didn't even expect them to reply, but the same lady (I believe) wrote:

"We could reserve tickets for you, no problem. You can tell us what train you want and we can receive and hold them for you ..."

Hmm ...

I guess there are always advantages of being a foreigner or "pretending" to be a foreigner who can't speak Chinese in China. I'm not sure if I should be more happy about the fact that I speak a language that would somehow fool people successfully online to get what I want, or should I feel pathetic about the fact that there's such a "favorable discrimination" in China?

In any case, I'm excited about returning to the country that I lived for 2 years. It's probably going to be unrecognizable, but I'm sure the food would taste insanely good.


梅ちゃん at 3:58:00 PM


Thursday, July 13, 2006



人啊,要不是有錢沒閒,就是窮到不行卻一年有三個月可以24小時自我安排時間。屬於後者的我 ... 嗯,我想我大概還沒決心要放棄窮到不行的生活。


Even though the electric toothbrush from the 100-yen shop breaks down within a day ... Given its price though, I guess I may be able to afford using one brand new one a day till the day I leave ...


Out of pure luck, for the first time I got to live within the Yamanote JR loop line this year. To be able to live within the Yamanote loop line is pretty much equivalent to living anywhere between wall street and mid-town in NYC. Only a few days ago it hit me that I probably had to thank the 5 cemeteries around my place for the reasonably affordable rental cost (esp. the one that is literally a wall away from the kitchen window). To Shinjuku it's 4 stops away, a short, 15-min ride. To Ueno, 15 mins, Ginza, 20 mins, and Tokyo station, a similar 20-min ride. It's walking distance to Waseda campus and 3 stops away from one of the Tokyo Univ. campus. Although given another chance, I don't think I'd want to live here again. 5 cemeteries and a dozen of wild cats out there that jump out out of no where on my way home ... Hm, I'd really have to think about it.

Although lately, something started to sink in me that makes me wonder if I'm beginning to develop a "home consciousness" for this place. On the JR platform, there's a special melody played at the Takadanobaba station (the closest one to Waseda Univ) - the theme song for the manga, Tetsuma-Atomu. I've never been a huge manga fan, but I vaguely remember that theme song, and hearing it late in the evening after a long day on the way home, there's somehow a strangely homey and familiar feel.

It's a tone only for the Takadanobaba station, a special tone dedicated to the artist who created Tetsuma-Atomu as he had lived here for a period of time in his life. It's a local tone that probably rings many sweet memories for people who were born and grew up in this area. I can't say that I share any of their sweet memories, but I appreciate the JR company for localizing the platform music according to individual neighborhood's characteristic.

And yesterday when I passed by Ebisu station and heard someone next to me humming the Ebisu beer CM melody as the platform played, I smiled. It's good to feel like being a local sometimes, even just for a few seconds.


I can't stand music in the 80s, and I think the 70s cosmetics and hair styles are the most hilarious. Although lately, it hits me that 10 years from now, all the latest stylish hair fashion in Tokyo is going to be severely laughed at by the kids of the current young generation. I've never had my hair dyed, nor do I ever attempt to get a haircut that would require me to take an extra 30 mins of curling or blow-drying in the morning. I may look rather conservative or out of fashion with my simple hair style right now, but I'm pretty sure I won't be the one laughed at the most 10 years from now.

What's up with guys with brown or bleached hair that has more thinned out layers than girls' anyway? And how come students never use backpacks here? Fashion rules, practicality always comes second. Everyday when I step on the subway escalator, I really want to tell the ladies in high heels in front of me that their feet look extremely painful when observed from behind. Sometimes I can't be sure if their shoes are more painful (if shoes do have feelings) or if their feet are suffering more.


Someone told me that Tokyo Univ. library used to allow their graduate students to borrow only 3 books at a time. These days, Waseda Library allows for 15 books max. But no borrowing or library usage after 5 pm is allowed for a visiting user like myself. Twice when I was sitting in the main reading room in the Waseda Library, I was asked to go to a cramped computer lab on the 2nd floor or a closterphobic carrel down in the basement of the stock room to use my laptop; and finally, there was a small area set up for laptop users in Tokyo Univ. Library, but ethernet or wireless internet connection is still an unthinkable idea to the librarians. How in the world do Japanese students do research here? How many more hours do they spend on note-taking by hand? Being on a Japanese university campus, I realize that I've been completely spoiled by the American library system.

"A temporary visitor's pass? Sorry, we usually only give it out on a day by day basis; at most we only give out visitor's pass that's valid for one month."

"To hold the books that you aren't able to finish reading today? Sorry, I'm afraid that you just have to come back tomorrow to finish it."

"You want to use Google? Sorry, you can only access the library homepage with the connection provided here."

"You want to take the book upstairs to read? Sorry, the book is from the stock room so you can only read it in the stock room carrels."

Sigh ... At least they use polite honorific forms when they explain these rules to me.

梅ちゃん at 12:14:00 AM


Wednesday, July 05, 2006


One of my friend's biggest wish is to one day "unite" all of her books scattered all across the world. A trip to Nagoya yielded 50-60 new books, a set of newly added weight that she now has to consider taking care of when the summer ends. I just want to unite all of my little kids plus ceramic dishes and clothes collected at all locations of the globe. As for books, sigh, I've already given up on the idea.

Would you call this the newly arisen phenomenon of the so-called "global villager" or "international citizen"? Someone should begin a business that caters towards this special group of beings who would rather choose nomadism than steadism. Air travel's weight limit should be lifted for such group of people, is regular postal service that does major yearly damage to their wallet size.

I went to a post-wedding wedding party with a friend. It was supposed to be a male-only, bachelor-party-like wedding celebration, but my foreigner status enabled me to join the party as a special guest. It was a "post-wedding" party b/c the couple got married all of a sudden, for reasons that isn't terribly hard to guess - "奉子成婚・できちゃった結婚・marriage out of wetlock." In fact, できちゃった結婚 has become such a normal social phenomenon that there was even a TV drama about it a few years ago.

The stupid me was asking why the gov't wouldn't want to increase its effort on public education against wetlock babies. These friends said - "The gov't loves it. It may help the country solve its current low marriage/birth rate. Indeed, if it weren't for a wetlock baby, I don't think the couple on Sat would've considered getting married. "Too busy simply," they said.

As the night prolonged, these 4-year-old salariman started to chain-smoke while crack jokes and utter complaints about their salariman lives.

"May-chan, do you know golf well?", one of them asked.
"Umm, not really, why?"
"Well, you know that for golf, the entire game consists of 18 holes right?", he said.
"Um, and?"
"Well, in our company (NTT Docomo), when we treat our clients for a "golf" trip, by the time they finished hitting the 14th hole, we say the following thing to our client: 'So-and-so-san, are you having a good time today? After your finish the 18th hole, would you be interested in proceeding on to the 19th one?'"
"Eh?! The 19th one?" I asked, thinking that I must have missed something after a few rounds of drinking.
"Yes, the '19th-one' ..." this friend said, with a smirk on his face.

What does this 19th one mean? Well, use your imagination, everyone.

梅ちゃん at 1:59:00 PM