Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pymp My Ride

*First of all, I would like to apologize for my long absence, an unfortunate incident involving a pack of rabid pandas made me have a creative brain cramp. So yeah, sowwwwy!*

In an unprecedented turn of events, I went from having 3 bicycles to no bicycle at all in a two week period. Seeing that it’s my only way to go from Point A (usually my house) to Point B (usually my job or a place that sells alcohol) this situation was a bit troublesome. Let’s see what happened:

Bike number 1 was a mountain bike. My love. My precious. In fact, we did an estimated 3000 KMs together through bamboo forests, rice fields and snow… he almost never let me down. Well… problems started not so long ago when Bike number 1’s pedals were going crazy and it led to a total breakdown last week. I’m not gonna go into detail here but it almost killed me. Now it’s probably being recycled into a robot. A robot like this I hope: (Watch this!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag-29NaVA0o) Fuck you Bike number 1.

Bike number 2 was a bike I ‘found’ at the train station after my station (Iwanuma-YEAH) because I (once again) fell asleep on the last train. Seeing that it was one of those community bicycles and that it was safer then bike number 1, I decided to keep it. It was a Japanese bike, complete with basket and a full set of 1 speed. It was a very feminine purple and on my first day riding it to work, the whole baseball team laughed at me, which made me question my manhood. Nonetheless, I felt some kind of attachment to bike number 2. Well last weekend, I was paid to encourage kids to play sports. I went to the basketball gym for an hour an when I came out, all the bicycles were silver. I played ‘where’s Waldo’ for 10 minutes before coming to the conclusion that someone had stolen my unlocked ‘community bicycle’. Now I guess I know what karma is but knowing someone sober would steal such a piece of crap really makes me wonder about the direction this country is going in. The worst part was walking back to school and telling my principal my bike was robbed and then, having to give a description of a bicycle that was not mine (Hmm officer, it was… orange, no basket and a unicorn sticker on the frame!). Anyways, fuck you Bike number 2.

Now Bike number 3 is my own Japanese style bicycle, it has been rusting under my stairs for more than 7 years, unlocked and motionless. It comes with a basket, 2 completely flat tires and rust on pretty much every vital part of the bike. No need to say it was a dangerous thing so I decided to tell my supervisor about my whole ordeal. I basically said: ‘Yo dogg, can you pimp my non-existant bicycle so I can get to work’? He told me that it was too bad. ‘I hope things will get better soon’ were his exact translated words. Thaaaaanksss….. But I guess they realized that without a bicycle, I’m a bit useless because they brought me a new Japanese style bike the next day.

I wish there was something to learn from this flabbergasting ordeal, so I will leave you with these words of wisdom: Bicycles come and go, but love from a panda, lasts forever. Thank you

Friday, March 12, 2010

Inside look on : The Sendai drinking club

Today, in the first segment of the INSIDE LOOK series, a fearless reporter goes behind the scenes of one of the most secret and underground institutions in Sendai. Let’s see where it takes us:

SENDAI - (AP) Let me give you an inside look into the Sendai drinking club. A very exclusive club that was formed by 3 men who like drinking alcohol, 2 legendary South-Africans and a simple man that grew up on the mean streets of Montreal-North. Before the drinking club was founded a little more than a year ago, Sendai, aka the city of trees, was home to: a book club, a dying soccer club, a cricket club, a knitting club, a poker club and maybe even a freaking spoken word club. A random visitor of Sendai might have been tempted to call Sendai: the city of boredom. That was until the 3 alcoholics found themselves on a boat at the same time and discovered that they have a common passion: getting completely crunk.

Quickly, the rules were laid out and the drinking began. Every Thursday, the members would meet and engage in a 2 hour nomihodai (all you can drink) and consume as much alcohol as it is possible in that short period of time. Needless to say, a member who would happen to fall behind and drink slower than the others would get his manhood questioned and would eventually be considered unworthy to be a part of such a beautiful gathering of drinking aficionados.
The choice of Thursday seemed natural, as it is a way to start the week-end early. The members say that the lack of productivity on Friday is never questioned by their Japanese co-workers as Japanese people seem to have many other things to do before they worry about the productivity of foreign teachers of English.

In addition to the ‘drink as fast as the others or you’re a moffie rule’, there are 3 other rules:

1- Every member is allowed 1 week off… in the year.
2- Every member can call an automatic nomihodai anytime, as long as it is announced 24hrs before
3- You must be annoying, disrespectful, ungrateful, irritable and basically a despicable prick

The club now has 4 regular members, as an Australian was added to the mix. When listening to the member’s conversations, one can really see that this club is made of refined, educated and classy gentlemen from very different countries and backgrounds. The night where we were granted permission to observe the group, the topics of conversation mostly fell under one of the following:
- Sports
- Legal age of consent
- Different sexual acts that may or may not involve transsexuals
- The sexual orientation of the French-Canadian member, who is apparently known for wearing V-necks

There is also a semi-regular Japanese member, who comes when he isn’t busy cutting the hair of Sendai’s rich and famous. The Sendai drinking club also had some guest stars here and there. An Aussie, a Canadian, a couple women, but it became quite clear that this club will remain what it is and what it always has been: an exclusive, highly secret club revolving around the 4 guys who can maintain a level of drinking never heard of in the Tohoku region. Their pursuit of excellence in the field of drinking is comparable to the domination that the legendary Tiger Woods held onto his sport before word came out that he was a freaking pervert. These men, considered by many as men amongst men, have graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Suntory University and are part of what must be, the best ALT club that exists in Japan.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tranche de vie, slice of life

Monday I had the day off. I had lots of stuff to do you know, had a productive day (aka watched the Olympics and had 4 breakfasts). After watching the guy who won the first Canadian medal on home soil (also known as the guy who studied at my High School, Collège Jean-Eudes REPREZZZENT) I went to the post office to send a package to a foreign country which has to remain secret for many reasons. I forgot to mention it wasn’t a ‘domestic’ package. So the girl weighed the package and charged me 640 yens, which sounded reasonable for an overseas package. I left and scratched that off of my LONG list of ‘to do’ things (2 things: 1- Go to post office 2- Buy yoghurt) and pressed on. At night, I’m eating the yoghurt (Achievement unlocked, 2 out of 2, I’m a grown man now) and the door bell rings. You see, now whenever this happens, I face a dilemma:

Option 1: Open the door and be confronted by:
A)a person who will feel awkward because here is a white man in his boxers and with whiskey in hand in a random suburb of Japan so he will say sorry and leave quickly
B)a person trying to tell me very politely that I must pay some bill I’ve never heard about
C)a freaking Jehova’s witness (These people are everywhere, don’t try to run away, it’s useless)
D)a friend needing shelter because he is too drunk

Option 2
(aka what I do 75% of the time): Shut the lights, the music and play dead and leave the door shut

It must have been the whiskey, I felt strong and confident and opened the door. To my surprise, I see the girl from the post office and her supervisor, they look like something terrible happened, you know the look of the kid who just smashed his dad’s car… They start bowing super low and I know something weird went down and then they explain that they didn’t charge me the price of a ‘Par Avion’ package and I didn’t fill out the customs paper. Here is the rest of the conversation (translated from my crap Japanese to a nice gangsta English):

Me: ‘Damn, I’m sorry, let me fill it right now, come in guys
Supervisor: ‘No it’s ok, we’ll freeze our asses off outside’ (didn’t wanna get contaminated by the gaijin floor I guess)
Me: ‘Aiiight here is the customs paper. I’m really sorry again, you could have called me, I would have went back
Girl: ‘It’s my fault
Supervisor: ‘Here is an envelope containing money for the trouble
(At that point I’m already puzzled but… wait for it…)
Girl: ‘Here is a kitchen set to let you know that we are sorry for the inconvenience
Me: ‘…… (sound of me being speechless) Well thanks guys, I mean, this is too much…. Sorry, I mean thanks, sorry, sorry, thanks
Then the dude closed the door and I just stood there with the kitchen set and the envelope containing 2000 yens (!!!). This, to me, represents everything that is beautiful about this country. And at the same time a bit weird. Beautiful, but weird: Japanese culture.
Now I wonder what they would have done if the girl lost the package, maybe the supervisor would have given me the kitchen set AND the girl?! Wow, now that’s a thought, she was quite cute. Anybody need anything???

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Man vs. Cold

So I’ve been back in Japan for more than a week now, after two weeks in paradise. (wait let me check the definition of Paradise in the P-Y dictionary… Paradise: land of perfection where you can eat cheap lobsters and prawns and steaks and drink like a madman for a fraction of what you would pay in another land. Additional perks include: 1- Girls walking around in bikinis and sporting actual breasts 2- Perfect weather and absence of rain for the whole duration of the trip 3- Six hour long happy hours 4- Cheap medication 5- Friendly people with nice teeth)
Yep! That’s the word. I’m back after two weeks in paradise. It was always warm and nice. Upon my return, my body didn’t get too long of an adaptation, it’s still between 5 and 9 degrees when I wake up in the morning. After heating for an hour or so, it’s usually 12 degrees but as soon as the heater stops, I lose a degree every 15 minutes.

Falling asleep in this kind of situation is an art, just like juggling. I start the electric bar heater in my bedroom and shut the door while I use the computer in the other room that is being heated by the kerosene heater. I boil water and shove a hot water bottle (shaped like a panda) in my bed sheets to warm up the bed. I return to the kerosene room to make sure the kerosene numbs my brain. I drink a tall whiskey-water to numb the rest of my body and then I shut the lights, brush my teeth and run to the bedroom. Now, the bedroom is warm but the electric bar heater makes the air super-dry. So I down a bottle of water, shut the heater and jump into bed. I basically make love to the hot-water bottle that is shaped like a panda and fall asleep pretty fast helped by the perfect balance of cold-hot-dry-moist. Voilà! That’s how you fall asleep in extreme situations.

Ok so... I always wake up crying two hours later, cursing this country and the bad insulation and lack of central heating but you know, at least I sleep well for two hours. I know it’s a free apartment and a secure job, but there is no way in hell I’m going to live through this one more year. So long Japan, next stop : ____________ .