Monday, October 22, 2007

No Perfection, Just Human

Having completely left this blog for 2 months, it's almost more frightening to write a new entry than to continue to leave it deserted. But the Generals Exam has long been over and the mental self-confinement has too ended with the lifting of the burden of the exam, I guess this blog needs a new start as well.

It's been 3 weeks since I came back to Tokyo. While long ago I thought all the inevitable physical transitions have been complete, I did not realize that the mental transition is yet to begin. It's not my first time living in Japan, but dealing with still a new environment, new group of people and hence a whole new world of culture, habits, and ways of thinking, it's just like starting all over again.

The other day I first learned how to buy movie tickets at convenient store after tediously filling out 7 pieces of paper with the same information written 7 times over.

The other day I first realized that after 6 pm, Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Bank charges me a $1 handling fee even at its OWN ATM machines (whereas the postal savings ATM closes at 5 pm, at least for the one closest to my house).

Each month I have to wait in a line of 20 people at the bank, for 30 minutes, in order to pay for my rent. No credit card except, no online payment heard of, and I've never seen or used a check in this country.

Yesterday the Internet provider replied back to me for the 3rd time, asking me to describe in GREATER detail what kind of connection problems I am encountering - "for instance, my dear customer, is it just too slow of a connection? or does the page not open up? or does it not connect at all? ..." and bla bla, and bla bla, and bla bla. Is it too much to ask to simply use hotmail, MSN, blogger, or log into Japan's own JR online ticketing system if I'm paying for the Internet service?

This morning I realized that all my Japanese email sent out of Apple Mail becomes unreadable, garbage language. Interestingly, only to those whose email addresses end with "" or "" would my messages become garbage texts.

However, given the very decently affordable national health insurance system ($88 a year!), the extremely convenient house-delivery system, the awesome Tsutaya DVD/CD rental shops, the 100-yen shops, the first-rate customer service/care (even if their polite attitude couldn't get me too far in resolving the Internet issues that I have), the unbeatable public transportation system in this country, and all the good food, cheap eats, bustling beer houses, and explosive number of cultural and arts and film events and activities offered in this city, I'm still managing to survive here in this country, if not thriving well on some of the days.

A friend once told me to compile a list of all the pros and cons for all of the countries that I've lived in.

"And then what should I do with the list?" I asked.

"Well, maybe one day if you become the president of a country, then you can take a look at the list and then gather the best experiences/wisdom/design from each place to make your own country a greater place, while avoiding the pitfalls of each system, of course."

"How about if I just gather all the global travelers in one room and propose making a democratic state of our own and live happily ever after together as citizens of that state, given all the experiences that we've seen and gained along the way?" I suggested otherwise.

A laughable dream that will never be realized, for sure, b/c even in that fantasy world there's bound to be issues and problems and faults and pitfalls. The more I travel and move, the more I come to realize that, as long as there are gatherings of people and the development of a system, there's gotta be blindspots and issues b/c human beings simply aren't perfect.

But maybe that's the beauty of the human world, thought from a different angle. And maybe that, ultimately, is the reason why I continue to travel, and move, and complain, and get frustrated, and - in the meantime - continue to be amazed, awed, surprised, if not mesmerized by some of the differences and especially different ways of thinking that I encounter along the way.

At least now I've found a way to send out this blogger entry (rather than sitting in my room sending another complaint letter to the Internet provider), and it's much easier than going to Shibuya Apple Store and attempting to steal their free, wireless connection.


Next stop - the bank, the convenient store, the district office, and the immigration office + 5 more forms to fill out.

梅ちゃん at 12:54:00 PM



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