Saturday, November 17, 2007

Making the Rounds

This is a small town, so everyone knows we're here. From my mom's old dentist to some of my relatives' old school teacher to a whole host of other people who'd seen me back when I was a terrible two. And they want to see me now. Yet somehow, by the way they're aghast at the sight of a gargantuan hairy gai-jin about twice their size, they're about ready to put a chain around the fridge and place landmines around the pantry.

"Waaaah sugoi!" they all seem to say. (Oooh, wow!) "He must eat a lot!"

That's a real confidence booster.

But hey, people around here are honest, straightforward people, but more importantly, very genuine and warm. It seems I can't go anywhere without being greeted with a smile, whether it's passing someone on the street, or someone opening our front door to say hi.

Yeah, that's how it works around here. While the legend of people not locking their doors in Japan is just that - a legend - in larger cities like Tokyo and Osaka nowadays, it holds true for smaller communities. Want to see your neighbor? Walk up to their front door, slide it open, poke your head into the shoe-removal vestibule and say, "Konnichiwa!" Someone will come right out and invite you in for tea. Want to give someone a gift and they're not home? Simply open their front door and leave it for them - preferably with a friendly note.

We did all that tonight, and I heard several times over how gargantuan I am (reminder: I'm only 5'7 and have a 32 inch waist), as well as received guests who had to come see the Half-Jap Freak from America.

The attention seems unnecessary, but I know it's genuine curiosity and goodwill behind it all. My mom repaid the visitors by making food most of these people have never seen before...

Yeah, Iranian food. Chicken with basmati rice and barberries, herbed yogurt with cucumber, Shiraz salad. I'm glad she wasn't in last night's Iron Chef competition. That cheatin' bitch brought her own ingredients!

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