Thursday, March 20, 2014

amidst the phobia

With the missing plane making headlines all over the world this past few weeks, I'm a bit hesitant to travel again.

Then I realised, maybe I should share something positive in my last flight to Amsterdam. This was early December 2013, and was my last business trip for the year.

For some reason, my flight back to Japan was delayed, and while figuring out what to do in the meantime, I made friends with a Filipino whose own separate flight was also delayed. She had come from Norway and through a series of transit was making her way home to the Philippines to visit her family.

She was just sitting a few seats from me, and overheard me calling my colleague about my plane delay. Usually when a person asks me where I'm from, I reply the country where I'm going back to; so in this case I answered Japan. If I was in the mood to have a relaxed conversation, I'd say something like, I'm Malaysian but living in Japan. That would usually spark some questions, but that unfortunate news made me feel tired already.

Somehow she started thanking me for helping her country during the then recent Typhoon Haiyan that lashed out the tropical island country. As she continued on her expression of gratitude, and me not wanting to spoil that moment, on behalf of the generous Japanese, I just nodded and smiled back at her. Somehow I started to tear up too, as I thought of the Japanese themselves who were struggling with the economy and nuclear breakdown; but still magnanimous enough to also extend assistance to other countries.

I invited her to have lunch together, since we had some time to kill. Since the delay was only going to be about 2 hours, it made sense to have some food together. She had a compensation voucher from KLM, so she treated herself to some nice lunch.

We started chatting, and even took pictures. I did try to clarify that I was not Japanese, but I think she did not hear me!

Anyways, she sent me off to my departure gate as my flight was earlier. Unfortunately, I found out that the plane was being further delayed. This time I got my own compensation voucher from KLM as well. By then I was really feeling grumpy having to wake up early, and then learning that the train to the airport was not working.

So I went back to the airport cafe, and got myself more food. I could have gone on to look for my new Filipino friend, but I figured maybe some little quiet time by myself would be nice. I sat there munching on Dutch croquette as I thanked God for that encounter earlier. 

Using the Euro5 phone voucher, I made a call home, surprising my dad. Then I realised it was quite late in Malaysia! I had a few minutes to relay my tale before the phone minutes ran out. 

I headed back to my departure gate, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Then I saw a few colleagues from the European office and realised they were on the same flight too; and was glad for some company. I guess it was God's way of assuring me that no matter what, I'm not alone. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

my toilet crisis

Remind myself not to do housework so late at night again!

I had just finished cleaning the toilet when I realised the water would not stop flowing.

The first thought that came to mind was to switch off the water source, but I had not dealt with this problem before. I tried to call a few people while I figured out how to make the water stop.

In the Japanese style toilet with the little washlet, I can't just open the tank cover to find out what's wrong, because in my previous experience, the water would gush out instead. That time was when I had just moved in, and good thing I managed to call the real estate agent who had just dropped by then.

A few calls were made, but obviously at 1:00a.m., no one would be picking up the phone! I was so glad Ako-san picked hers up, I knew she must have been sleeping from her voice. But I figured, she was one of the closest and if anything, her husband would be around to help if needed.

She tried to guide me through the phone, as I struggled to imagine what she was saying in Japanese. We tried the water source next to the toilet, but that was too tight. Then we tried the water source outside my room. After a few attempts, because I was not sure how tight or in which direction I should turn the switch, and there were two (it was like trying to detonate a bomb, what if I made the situation worse?!) we finally managed to get the water stop.

After confirming that there was no water flowing out from the kitchen sink too, I proceeded to open the tank cover, and discovered that the tank cleansing pill had gotten stuck near the hole. I heaved a big sigh of relief as I called Ako-san back to thank her for her guidance.

It seems like such a simple thing looking back, but living in a foreign land, with this sort of problem in the middle of the night in winter can sound like a crisis!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

did i sleep through it?

Apparently there was an earthquake a couple of days ago. I only found out about it when I came into the office the next morning when my colleagues were talking about it.

As I recalled where I was that time, obviously I was at home since it was very early in the morning. But I was quite sure I was about to go to bed, or had just dozed off. I had just finished chatting with my European colleague on a business trip I was organising, and he was asking me about the time in Japan.

That was when I looked at the clock and it was almost 1:30am.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the southern islands of Japan but was strong enough to be felt in the Kansai area.

I told my colleagues, I must have gotten used to earthquakes already having lived in Japan for a number of years. But deep down, I wonder what would happen if there was a fire and I had been deep in sleep!

Monday, March 03, 2014

skiing in kannabe

Finally got the chance to go skiing over the weekend - first time in Kobe!

I had taken some pictures with my phone camera, but since it doesn't have reverse camera, I couldn't take any of myself. It was a rather cloudy afternoon, and it even rained a little. Too bad no extra snow, but still happy I got my ski and snow fix.

So I'm really glad our colleague Yokogawa-san brought a portable video camera along, and even composed a nice little montage (with one of my fav Japanese songs)* of the ski trip in Kannabe. Makes me want to get one of that too!

* Update 10 March : Apparently Youtube had removed the accompanying music, must have been due to copyright issues. Bummer!