D's Daze

Like seconds ticking away on my egg-timer.... these are the daze of my life

Monday, March 29, 2004

Hello & Goodbye

The land down under was better than I expected. In fact it was actually quite pleasant- once I shut out the sound of the offending accents!
Being in an English environment again did great things for my confidence. NOTHING was difficult. AND ....I was an adult again!

It was also scariliy like being in Durban. In fact the only real difference was the fact that I was in the city center, riding on trains, and
a) Alive
b) Feeling quite safe
Both concepts totally alien in the center of Durbs!

Mika's wedding was beautiful. And her joy at having me there was so obvious, that the memory of jumping through visa hoops has faded completly!

Beijing was interesting. It made me appreciate Japan all over again.
The language was so alien that in comparison it made Japanese feel like my mother tongue!
The people were rude, aggressive and abrupt, and made me long for the polite consideration that is the backbone of Japanese society.

But it was an interesting place. The Great Wall is DEFINATELY deserving of its name.
I have pictures taken on my new digital camera. Unfortunately I have no clue on how to attach it here. If you know (or happen to have a computer wizz boyfriend nearby) please save me from myself!!

And then I returned to school. To discover its sayonara time. Some of my favourite people are being transferred.
They leave tomorrow.
And while I understand and know thats just the way it is- I feel sad and a strange sense of loss.

Perhaps its because I have just realised that its only the start of this year's sayonaras. :(

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The Land of Oz

I met Mika when I arrived in Japan. She took me under her protective wing and was definately one of the people responsible for my settling into life here as smoothly as I did. Her family almost adopted me- in fact I call her Mum "Mamma-san"!
Anyway, last July she moved to Sydney, and on Saturday she will be marrying her Australian fiance, Paul.

I promised Mika I would be at her wedding. And since I take FRIENDSHIP very seriously, a promise to a friend is something only my death will prevent me from keeping.
And with this particular promise-that would have been a welcomed option!

A trip to Australia. No problem- you would think. WRONG!
I had to apply for a tourist visa. Again you think "No problem". Actually it was a problem. A HUGE problem.
I needed all sorts of documents in English- which would be easy enough if I was in an English speaking country. The fact that Im NOT was a serious mitigating factor that made my life living hell!
Anyway, to cut a long story short I finally managed to get the darn piece of paper with red lines and a kangaroo on it, and in the process the word "Visa" became a swear word.

Then the issue of flights became the NEXT hurdle. On a cheap discounted ticket I was going to go to Sydney via Shanghai. But I wanted to see The Great wall which is near Beijing. Blah blah blah and many hours with my cute travel agent later, that has been sorted out.

Then I found out my Internationally renowned travel agency, doesnt accept International or Japanese Credit Cards! Am I the only one who doesnt get this logic???
Anyway, THAT hurdle has finally been cleared.

And I did all all this to go to a place that is responsible for the nightmares I still have of Donald and his bat in the 1999 Cricket World Cup???
I dont even LIKE the place!
The very SOUND of its commentators' accents is enough to make me pukey! Can you just imagine me in a place where everyone sounds like that??
Absolute TORTURE!!!

BUT, I will do anything for my friends. Id even go to hell & back. And in this case, I am literally & figuratively!

I promised my friend I would be at her wedding.
So after following my "yellow brick road" tomorrow I leave for the land of Oz (despite my reservations about that sheep filled place & the hoops of fire I had to jump through to get here)

Of course the biggest challenge of all is yet to come. I haven't packed yet!
The reason being Iv been far to busy and I haven't decided what to wear yet.

And all this, to see my friend smile!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Back to Life Back to Reality

I went to a three day conference in Yokohama for Returning Jets.
It was quite a reality check!
I realised:
* I have to get out of this dreamlike state Iv been in & get organised. CV /job hunting etc etc

* What "Reverse Culture Shock" really is and ways in which to cope with it.

* How to ship a futon home.

* Yokohama is a FANTASTIC City. Definately my favourite city in Japan.Modern and clean, and NOT teeming with millions of people like Tokyo is. Yokohama even has a "Harry Potter " Store- set in what looks like part of Hogwarts!
I skipped the workshop on "How to write a CV" and went for a ride on one of the biggest ferris wheels in the world- overlooking Yokohama Port.

* Last but not least, I realised that I have been blessed with AMAZING FRIENDS- like the incredible Naoko. I am honoured & privledged to be a part of their lives!

Yes...I enjoyed the Returners Conference thoroughly!

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Piano on a Snowy Day
My life seems to be made up of a series of completly unexpected pleasures.

Today, once again, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, nose firmly stuck in the same novel I was reading yesterday ( its a fat book- its going to take me a while!)
When another teacher (this time a man) comes over to me. "Danola-sensei" he says " do you want to listen to some music"
"Sure" I say, putting down my book, expecting him to give me a CD or something.

Instead he led me to the cold AV (Audio Visual) Room-high up on the top floor of the school buildings, where one of the school pianos are kept.
He then proceeded to play the most amazing music- Chopin, Bethoven, Bach. He looked at some sheet music for one piece- the rest he played completely from memory.
OK Im no expert...but its sounded BEAUTIFUL!!!

Picture it if you can: a little middle aged man, bent over a piano, in a huge cold room high above the deserted school (all students had to leave school at 11am today)
Me standing next to the piano listening to him play, looking out the window at the snow falling onto the school court-yard.
Every once in a while he'd pause to tell me a bit about the music...like "this is one of the earlier pieces" or "this was composed for the gondoliers in Venice"

Again...totally random, unexpected and TOTALLY UNFORGETTABLE!!!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Hina Matsuri

Today is Hina Matsuri (Girls Day) in Japan. I was sitting at my desk, nose firmly planted in a novel, when a teacher came over to me and whispers " Danola-sensei today is Hina-matsuri. The lady teachers are having a private party. Please come with me at 1pm" "

At the appointed time, we left the warm staff room, and went to the opposite end of the school- to the cold drafty gym.
We went up a flight of stairs, and into a private room- obviously the secret hideout of the PE (Physical Education) teachers.
The room is carpeted and nice and warm thanx to a giant heater .
Seated at a low table are several of the female teachers.
An assortment of sweets, cakes and fruit miraculously appeared.
Green tea was served.
All the ladies employed at the school drifted in.
We ate & chatted despite my lack of any real Japanese ability.
Then we left, and went back to the staff room as if nothing had happened!
Totally random.
Totally unexpected.
And totally unforgettable.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Graduation Ceremony

To add to my growing list of "Only in Japan":
*People dress up in their Sunday best, go to a formal graduation ceremony, take off thier shoes at the door, and spend the rest of the time in bedroom slippers!

*18 year olds graduate from High School in what resembles a military parade- complete with stiff marching and regimented sitting/standing & bowing for 5seconds.
(high school farewells in SA are filled with a party atmosphere without lotsa shouting and partying!)

But it was an emotional day for all- teachers & students alike.
I was also close to tears when I said farewell to some of my favourite kids. The scenery here will never be the same!!