Thursday, December 20, 2007

im flying home!

When I first went back home in April, I thought that would be the only time I'd go back. But it was because I managed to get a transit ticket via Hong Kong and I thought if I got a job then I might have to start straightaway from graduation and wouldn't have a chance to come back after that. Plus I heard that Japanese companies only give 10 days of leaves.

When I went back home again in September, I also thought I wouldn't go back again after that. But it was because my boss allowed me to start work later and I felt I needed the break before going back to work coz once I start work I wouldn't have a chance to come back after that. Plus, my own company only give 10 days of leaves.

When I decided to go home this winter, I thought I must be krazy to fly back so often! But it was because I felt that Christmas is the most meaningful time to go home for, Christmas is so commercialised in Japan and because I'm spending so much for a peak season ticket, I don't think I will go back for a lonnnnnng time to come. Plus, my company gave us winter holidays.

But what I'm trying to say is, I will be going home for Christmas! *yay*

Saturday, December 15, 2007

not so fast!

I remembered that I was supposed to have another housewarming party when last night, while talking to the landlord, he asked "Are you going to have another party this weekend?"

He must either have liked the food so much, or enjoyed the company of my friends, or have nothing else to look forward but parties like these :p

I wished I could make parties after parties and invite friends over but the last one left me quite tired already! And also, I have to think of new menus so that my housemates won't think I only know how to cook 3 dishes (make that 2 since the 3rd was salad).

But I'm also reminded that housewarming parties are not to show off cooking skills, but to invite people to share in the joy and warmth of your new place. So I guess he will have to wait till next year :D

Friday, December 14, 2007

now i remember why i hated working!

Did I tell you guys that I've started work at the new office? Our spanking new place is at the top floor of a newly-built block in Nakameguro. I've suggested to the boss to add "The Penthouse" to our corporate address. Our space is a little smaller compared to the lower floors because we have a balcony surrounding it, and we have tall ceilings wrapping 2 sides of the block so it's a pretty good view. Plus plenty of sunlight during the day.

I love the new place, coz everything is brand new and we're the first people to begin working there. The first week was great because I've been working at home almost the whole of November and it was good being out, mingling with people and just having a different view while working. We get to see furniture coming in, wirings being rerouted, homely things filling up the kitchen and toilet, and many visitors dropping by.

But come 2nd week, I was beginning to feel like it was slowly turning bad. The commute took about 40 minutes, not including walking time. I have to lug my laptop to the office, and it feels like I'm on a daily backpacking trip since I have to sometimes stand all the way to the office and back during rush hours. All these made me rather tired halfway through the day, and I wished I was working at home again.

With all the changes and investment, my boss was beginning to act "weird" too. Maybe he was stressed, but he had some expectations over us and we were beginning to feel rather uncomfortable. It felt like he was watching us and wasn't happy at certain things we did. Before things got worse, we decided to talk to him about it. Thank God I have a really understanding boss, who didn't get the wrong impression that we were complaining, but rather admitted what was happening.

I was really quite hungry, but since he decided to have that talk after office hours, I decided to stay back a little too. It was all in all a good talk, we managed to clear things up and I even got his approval to sometimes work from home too. He understood that for certain tasks like writing, it was quite impossible to have concentration in the office. I assured him that I would only do it when necessary, as the office was there for the reason for better collaboration amongst everyone here.

And today, we had our opening-cum-Christmas party at the office. Friends & former staff joined us as we toasted to the end of a busy year and to a more exciting 2008. I was supposed to join some friends for a Christmas Jazz Concert at the Chuo Seishou Church, but the party started late, and I thought I should actually spend some time with some of these people.

So I remained back at the party and had quite a good time getting to know some of the people whom I've only chatted with or met only once. Plus practiced my deteriorating Japanese too! I initially wanted to get some gifts, but I didn't know how many were coming and I was only close to certain people. I guessed maybe spending time would have been more meaningful. Especially at a time like this.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

the little housewarming that happened

Just survived my 1st (did I mean to say there are more to come?! I'm already tired from this!) housewarming party here. Was a little hesitant to do it coz I've never had any experience even back in Malaysia, but I was quite excited about my new place. Besides, some friends who had only heard about it were curious to see my room. And they asked when I would be having my housewarming.

I've only lived here slightly over a month, so there were some things which could have been arranged better, since I still have not decided how I would like my room to look like. There are some cupboards and shelves, but they're quite different from what I used to have in the dorm, so I needed to see how I could put them properly and still be able to retrieve them in the best way possible.

But anyways, I was choosing between this Saturday and the next since I would be going home for Christmas after that (yay for me!). And it would be good to meet up before the year ends, so I started messaging my friends asking them when they would be available. Since most people would be around on the 8th, I decided quite last minute to have it this weekend instead.

I was already quite tired this week because we started work in the new office, so there was the daily commute and longer hours put in. So I thought the 15th would be a better choice. But since I've already decided that 8th would be it, I made sporadic plans in between commutes and made a mental list of what to cook and who to invite. I would have wanted to invite more people but space is so limited so maybe I will spread out and do a few groups over different weekends.

To maximise the number of people I could invite but still maintain sizeable portions of food to feed them, I decided tea-time would be the best since people would have eaten lunch, and they wouldn't be expecting an 8-course meal a feast from me. So I made butter rice, curry chicken, black pepper chicken wings and salad. Doesn't sound like teatime fare but the portions were!

All in all, we were 9 including the landlord and my Chinese housemate. The food was kindly sponsored by Watanabe-san, who seemed to enjoy the company of my friends. My darling guests brought snacks, drinks and dessert and we thoroughly had fun catching up and I was just glad everything went so well. The effort was well worth it, and I hope we can chill out more at my place next time. They also liked my room a lot! BTW, I was too busy having fun to take pictures, but these are the ones taken earlier.

Monday, December 03, 2007

a new appreciation for autumn

I never had a particular liking for autumn as it gives an impression that something is coming to an end. The falling leaves, cold weather and the whole brownness of it just seems so sad. That is, until last weekend when I was out enjoying the brilliant bursts of colours. It's as if nature is wearing its brightest coat of hues just before everything goes into hibernation mode and is blanketed by the snow.

Speaking of endings, December is dreaded by some, as it's a closure to the past 12 months. Some people look forward to the year-end holidays beginning from Christmas till the New Year. For me this year, it's a bittersweet mixture of both. I prematurely did a pre-reflection (ya, there's more to come) in my own journal, perhaps maybe I will be too busy to do a proper one during the last few days of the year.

Besides, I don't think there will be anything significant happening in the coming weeks that will change what I would be writing anyways. Furthermore, I've got much to thank God for, much to reflect on and prayers that I wish could be answered in the coming new year. So, I might as well start early.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

momiji at yoyogi

Today marks the first day of the last month of the year. Can't believe this whole year was spent in Japan (minus some in Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Malaysia). December is always a time for reflection. But I shan't go into that just yet. Definitely lots have happened, far more than many many years combined, things I would have never experienced if I had stayed back in Malaysia. But I digress...

We were supposed to go hiking this weekend. The main organiser, Lam, had plans to go to Takao-san while another friend, Shokwan, also friend of said organiser, wanted to make it an all-grrls hike up Jimba (plus hot springs after), both of which were relatively near to each other. Some people in Lam's list suddenly pulled out last minute, so he had to cancel Takao due to poor response. Some people in Shokwan's list also had other commitments, so she had to cancel Jimba due to poor response.

As I heard the news from the two of them over drinks last night, I wondered if these 2 groups had combined together, maybe at least one trip would have materialised! But I guess what happened in the end turned out to be unexpectedly fantabulous too. Since I was already committed to the all-grrls trip which promised a dip in the onsen after the hike, I decided that we should still do something, and it should preferably involve momiji*!

So we discussed and decided to do a picnic in Yoyogi Park instead. Plus, there was a flea market nearby, some shopping options in nearby Harajuku (yes, where you see Jap teens dressed in their favourite anime character), and bicycles to rent. Sounded like a good idea, so we started planning what to bring - sandwiches, onigiri*, chips, white wine, dessert & fruits. And a mat for sitting too!

We were quite worried the night before coz the weather forecast predicted a cloudy day but followed by sun. But when we arrived at the park, it was bright and shiny. We walked a bit while figuring out where to have our picnic. We spotted a bright red tree near an open area with lots of people taking pictures and decided that we should hog the limelight and be in their pictures camp somewhere nearby and enjoy the crimson leaves.

From where we sat, we could see families playing frisbee in the open area, couples with well-bred dogs wearing cute apparels, children posing with maple leaves and elderly people enjoying a walk in the park. It was a beautiful day indeed, and we basked in the sunlight and heat while enjoying our lunch. Thank God for the good weather!

Once done with food, we left our things at the mat and went around posing like models finding good spots to take pictures. The crimson of the maple leaves really stood out amongst the rest of the trees, while the golden leaves gave it an overall glow, as if some parts of the park were on fire. We wished we had a DSLR to really capture the beauty of the autumn colours.

While eating, we noticed that some children were playing with some "falling" leaves. But after staring for a bit more, we realised the leaves weren't falling from the trees above, but rather, floating into the sky instead! We wondered if someone had brought a fan to blow the leaves upward like that. So on our rounds, we went closer and discovered that that particular area where they were standing on was actually some ventilator from the subway below (heard it was the Chiyoda line).

When the train passed, the gush of wind would be pushed upward through the vents, blowing the fallen gingko leaves into the air, giving the children such thrill. After the train had passed, they would collect the leaves from the surrounding area again and lay them on the vents and wait for the next train to pass by. This sight attracted passersby who even waited for the next action so that they could also take pictures of the children enjoying themselves.

It was quite a huge park, and there were more people on the other side from where we had sat. Later only did we realise that "our" red tree wasn't the only one, there were many more ranging from reddish to yellow, making it such a perfect day for walking and appreciating nature. We saw a group of people playing percussion music near the fountain, some funkily-dressed Japanese youth in various hairstyle looking serious as if discussing life's more pressing issues, a few guys practicing tap dance and another group trying out stunts on their skateboards.

When the sun occasionally hid behind the clouds, we could really feel the temperature drop, and when the sun appeared again, we were thankful for its life-giving heat. We wanted to do many things like trying out somersault and cycling around the park, but for some reason had forgotten about it until we reached home. We were both glad that even though we didn't do some serious hiking and exercised our lungs (and given ourselves some pampering at the hot springs), the momiji picnic was well worth it.

*momiji - 紅葉(P); 黄葉 【こうよう(P); もみじ(P)】 (n,vs) (1) (こうよう only) autumn colours; fall colors; leaves changing color (colour);(n)
onigiri - お握り(P); 御握り 【おにぎり】 (n) rice ball (often triangular, sometimes with a filling and wrapped in nori); (P)