Tokyo guzzler: Days 69-87 – Never take predicted text for granted!

Well it’s been some considerable time since I last updated the blog. Nearly three weeks in fact. Maz has been back at school and I have been picking up more students lately so we’ve both been kept busy (well, busier at least I my case!).

My language classes are going great and I’ve met lots of interesting people. So far I have met 13 different students. In fact I met a new one for the first time earlier. Usually we meet in coffee shops, neutral territory where I can’t do too much damage! So anyway, I decided to get to the coffee shop in good time today, mainly so I could ensure I’d find the place properly as I hadn’t been to the area previously. Thankfully I found the Starbucks no problem so I was sat in the shop awaiting his arrival. I thought I’d do the decent thing and email him, letting him know I was waiting for him on the top floor, and also notifying him of what I was wearing to help him identify me. However, my email didn’t quite come out as planned, as I realised several minutes after I’d hit the “send” button ….

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Lesson learned – never email a new student without re-reading first!

My reaction when I discovered what I’d sent? Well I couldn’t help but laugh – it put a smile on my face. It’s as if the predictive text knew what I was wearing and decided to change the word “white” to “shit“. It took a little bit of explaining when my student finally arrived, but I guess the auto-correction worked as he found me in my shit T-shirt without any problems.

As I mentioned, I have picked up quite a lot of students now and the vast majority are re-booking for more sessions. I am mainly working with finance professionals who can speak decent English. They just have little or no confidence when it comes to speaking. We normally discuss the latest news and articles relevant to their line of work. It’s good for me as it allows me to keep tabs on the industry despite being out of the employment loop. Sundays are my busy days where I see 3 or 4 students all over the city. It’s a lot of travelling. Other than that, I sporadically see others during the week. I’m enjoying it though and it’s really easy money, but it’s also very good in terms of meeting new local people and visiting new areas of Tokyo. I’m gaining some really good knowledge from them on places to go and things to see. I’m even thinking that I’ll be able to make some friends out of it. One dude in particular is very interested in meeting up socially and, to be honest, I feel a bit guilty taking money off him now because I regard him more as a friend than a student. We’re even going to dinner with him and his girlfriend this coming weekend!

I’ve been inundated with people asking me how the Japanese language skills are coming along….not, you disinterested bastards!! Well I’ll tell you anyway. Progress is slooooooooooow! It’s very hard to pick up. I’d previously envisaged it being relatively easy to pick words and phrases up once we were immersed in the language on a daily basis. However it’s not like your Mediterranean languages that come quite easily if you spend a bit of time there. I’d say it’s virtually impossible to learn Japanese unless you make a conscious effort. Little is written in the western A-Z alphabet, which is the main reason it’s so hard to pick words up. You can’t just read a word and think, “Hey, I’ll remember that for next time“. It’s hard and I’m sad to say that we have made little progress since arriving.

What else is going down?“, I hear you asking. Well, we have booked a 13 night Christmas holiday to Thailand, from 15-28th December. I’ve been reliably informed that it should be 30 degrees over there at that time, so it’ll be very different spending Christmas Day on the beach. It’s a hard life sometimes!

I’ve also been playing lots of football and picking up lots of knocks along the way. I sprained my wrist about 4 weeks ago and really needed hospital treatment. But I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and Maz bandaged me up! Teacher, hairdresser, nurse…….what next?!

Thankfully some decent bands are coming to Tokyo soon so I’ll get the gig fix I’m craving. We’re going to see Royal Blood and The Black Keys in the new year with our new gig buddy Rory and I’ve got a couple of other bands lined up too. Once my wrist is fully healed I’m also going to look for some people to have a jam with.

General observations I have noted recently:

  • Traffic cheer leading is actually a paid job here. Wardens are paid to wave flags when roadworks are happening. Sometimes you’ll go back hours later and the same dude will still be flagging rigorously.
  • Never take a wet umbrella into a shop or restaurant. You will get shouted at.
  • Following on from that, umbrellas here are seemingly interchangeable. So, if you put your brolly in the rack outside the shop, expect it to be gone when you come out of the shop. If that happens, I normally just take the best one available and move away swiftly.
  • Don’t do shit recycling or you’ll get a dirty look from the recycling troll up the road. If you need to get rid of an item you’re unsure of, wait until nightfall and await further instructions!
  • All the girls wear high heels. OK not all, but an exceptionally high amount.
  • Which probably might explain why there are an unusually large amount of women with at least one wonky foot. A lot of them struggle to walk in their huge heels and I can imagine there being a lot of broken ankles in the Tokyo A&E departments.
  • For anyone wanting to come over and visit, the Japanese government are devaluing the Yen so much that it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to come over. Three months ago you’d get ¥170 / £1. Recently it’s been up to ¥184 / £1. Great if you’re coming over; shit if, like us, you’re hoping to transfer money home!! Grrrr.
  • Commuters on the underground can fall asleep instantly. I have even seen people standing while sleeping, their limp body flailing around the carriage. I even saw a man earlier walking down the road with his eyes closed. Where’s a lamppost when you need one?!
  • Junk mail and flyers – I have never received so much shit though the door in all my life. Not only is it shit, it’s shit that I can’t understand. Double the frustration!
  • Dogs have their own pushchairs! Seriously…
  • Cyclists are even more of a pain in the arse here than back home. How is that even possible?! I can’t stand people cycling on the pavement, yet here it’s the norm.
  • Dress to impress is the norm over here. All the women are immaculately made up every day (so I’m told – I haven’t noticed…….!!)
  • Is there a world-record for jet lag? If so, 87 days can’t be far off. I literally can hardly sleep out here. 4 hours a night if I’m lucky.
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