The key to negotiating a large japanese train station is three fold: keep constant speed, constant bearing, and never make eye contact. On my way home yesterday, I was a bit flustered (a strange japanese man had followed me for a block shouting, "Jodi Fahstah, shiteiru? shiteiru?" Apparently he felt Ms. Foster and I shared more than a passing resemblance...**), and I accidently broke rule number three. Being American, my natural tendency when I meet someone's gaze is to smile. This was my second mistake; in a train station, this is like making someone look into the face of a basilisk. The poor girl I'd inadvertently alerted to my presence missed a step and tripped into the man next to her, setting off a chain reaction that rippled through the station. I pressed myself up against the side of a pillar until the commotion passed, then cautiously proceeded on to my gate, gaze fixed on some indeterminate point off in the distance. You can never be too careful.
Yesterday was also the one year anniversary of my swearing into the State Department. While I had imagined I might be in Japan a year on, I can't say I thought I'd be waxing poetic about the train station vomit there. Such are the vagaries of life. Happy anniversary!
Spring rain --
not a fart
by 小林一茶 Kobayashi Issa, 1821
*For those unaware, humanity's stench falls somewhere between that of a nursing home and a stale diaper pail.
**Previously, I'd only ever been compared to Jay Leno. Oh, and sometimes Lucy Lawless' sidekick on 'Xena'.