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Murder attempts and burqa hot pants

I used Japan's EMS service to mail documents to South Africa. 

Monday 8 June         mailed from Tokyo
Thursday 11 June     arrived Johannesburg
Friday 12 June          sent to Cape Town
Monday 15 June       arrived Cape Town
Thursday 18 June     "retention"
Friday 19 June          delivered

It takes South Africa longer to deliver documents from the Cape Town Central Post Office Depot to an address in Cape Town than it takes Japan to send those documents 13 536 km, almost halfway around the world.

Ai, Suid-Afrika. It's not that difficult!

Blah

This hasn't been a very rainy rainy season. It's been mostly a blah dreary gray skies season. It hasn't even been very hot: low twenties. I haven't used my air con yet. I have sent roughly 643 LINE messages to my friends complaining about cold trains. The Oedo Line is so cold that it's painful.

Biggest advantage of rainy season: hydrangeas.


You're going to have to try harder to kill me

Japanese pharmacist (giving me OTC hay fever* medicine): Take one, twice a day.
Me: OK.
Japanese pharmacist: Only two a day. Don't take more.
Me: OK.
Japanese pharmacist: This is very strong.
Me: OK.

Goes home. Swallows four. Does not die.

Ten years in a country that loves to believe it has a very delicate constitution, and I know exactly how much attention to pay to pharmacists. The medicine had zero effect. I had to get some weapons of mass destruction from my British doctor.

(If you're curious, the pharmacist gave me Alesion10.)

* Yes, I have hay fever in rainy season. Yes, I know. Shut up.

Inhaler, nasal spray, anti-histamines: counterinsurgency measures against a body that's decided rainy season
is the perfect timing for hay fever. Dunno what's going on. Spores? Fungus? Grass?

Oh, to be a wealthy housewife

This morning I walked past a Minato-ku yochien (kindergarten). It was just before 9. The mothers had arrived, dressed to kill in suits and high heels, or designer gym wear. It's highly unlikely that they are working mothers. This is Japan, and that was Minato-ku. I spotted a Porsche and a BMW X5. Ah yes. We most emphatically need an SUV in Tokyo. Terrible roads. Potholes the size of Grand Canyon. Hoards* of marauding tourists from China.

These women's lives consist of dressing up, making obento and having salad in overpriced restaurants. Possibly sex with their husbands once a month, but I wouldn't count on that if I were you.

What's it like to have such a life?

I think of my own, which has been a combination of feast and famine. Feast while I had a senior job at a television company; mostly famine since then for various complex reasons. Famine, I hasten to add, according to a Tokyo definition, not an Africa one.

Not always easy.

Yet. Yet …

A lifetime of total independence, making my own decisions, accepting responsibility for a few very bad ones, 七転び八起き, nanakorobi yaoki, fall down seven times and get up eight. Years of different cultures in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and now Japan. Adventures, memories, stories, countless books and a tiny handful of loyal friends and family members who've forgiven me more times than I've read books.

Do I want to be those housewives?

Ye gods no.

* You may prefer the more conventional spelling, hordes, but I believe hoards isn't entirely inappropriate in this particular context.


Students

Male. Fifties. Has been studying for a year, and still can't get the basic SVO order right. Has lived with his mother all his life.

First-year student. Divorced parents. Writes in an essay that she doesn't like her father, but he's important, because he provides money. Describes her mother as "my life" and adds that they sleep together in one bed every night.

Young housewife. Married less than a year. No kids, not pregnant. Husband has been transferred to Vietnam. When are you joining him? I'm not going to Vietnam. Why not? It's too dangerous.

Modern Japanese society.

I have a solution!

I have a solution for Japanese women and their sun phobia. Instead of the hats, sun visors, scarfs, elbow-length gloves, parasols and SP 7003.41 … why don't you just wear a burqa? You could turn it into micro-mini, since you never seem to be concerned about sunburn on your legs, and you could liven things up with a Hello Kitty pattern along the hem.

So. Burqa hot pants!

(You think I'm joking? Google it. I dare you.)

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