Rain, sweat and umbrellas

No food references tonight – my dinner wasn’t too special.

Rain.  It rained all day long.  It was a steady, continuous rain.  Not hard, not a drizzle, rain.  I didn’t matter much, of course, as I spent the day sitting in a warm office.  When I went out for lunch (konbini again), I was glad I had my umbrella.  Even though it’s simply a half block around the corner, I would have been fairly wet.  This evening, on the commute home, the subway station stairs were soaked with water.  It brought up an interesting design flaw – all these people in formal shoes, which are pretty notorious for not having a grip, walking up and down wet steps that are made of a smooth, slick stone.  I wonder how many injuries occur here…?

This morning I was going to drop into the grocery store for breakfast, but realized that I’d left the hotel earlier than previous days and they hadn’t opened yet.  Instead I went to a konbini (gasp!) where I had an unusual encounter with the clerk.  I made my selections (banana, yogurt, bread) and approached the counter.  He scanned my items, provided me with the total (verbally, but I don’t understand, so I just read the screen) of 346Y.  I opened my nice new wallet, dug out exact change and handed it to him.  He then proceeded, in Japanese, to apparently dispute what I handed him versus what the total was.

Or maybe he wasn’t disputing it, but he wasn’t putting it in the register.

He spread the coins out in his hand, I visually counted it and then compared to the total display.  346Y.  It’s not complicated – 3 x 100, 3 x 10, 1 x 5, 1 x 1.  8 coins.  We did that a couple of times and then he decided we were “even” and I left.  Maybe he had said something about it being exact change to begin with, but misread my body language.  I don’t know what could be misread  – it’s the same behavior I have during every other exchange where I have no clue what the cashier is saying.  Whatever… I got my breakfast and left.

Oh, and I got to use their umbrella rack – I felt like my umbrella was getting to hang out with strange new friends.

Maybe I should name it?  Maybe you should name it – that’s better.

Work was fine – I’m getting more and more integrated into the team and environment as the days progress.  I’m getting a much better view of the project I’m here to help deploy.  It’s in… interesting… shape, but I think it can be done.  It’s funny because I’ll likely wrap up the project by shoving it into the process we use at home to track the work.  (Which reminds me, I still need to open tickets…)

I had dinner in the ground floor restaurant, an English pub.  My selection wasn’t so hot – roast lamb.  It was a shank cut and that isn’t really my favorite.  I had dinner there because I had a 6:30p meeting scheduled.  Yep, six thirty in the evening.  It was scheduled for an hour, but ran 1.5 hours… putting me out of the office at 8p.

The meeting room was internal to the building and being after 6p, the a/c had turned off.  It was like an oven in there, despite the fan in the corner doing its best to move the air around.  Combine that with the strong personalities and it was an exciting little roller coaster ride to be introduced to the project!  I left feeling fine… it’s just another element of the whole experience.  Plus, this project just missed a super-massive milestone so I know that adds to the whole thing – we were rubbing salt in a fresh wound, but it has to be done so we don’t miss the next one.

Like I mentioned earlier, my umbrella got to visit with lots of new umbrellas today, and tonight it’s having a sleep over in the hotel lobby rack!  I decided that was completely soaking wet and that I really didn’t want to carry it up to my room to have it get everything in there get wet, so I just locked it up downstairs.  Exciting – right?

Another little umbrella thing – as you’re walking along the sidewalks, it can get relatively crowded on a normal day, and when you add the fact that everyone is thrusting an umbrella over their head, things get complicated.  There seems to be a bit of a process for navigating this… over / under or side to side.  Say you’re passing someone, you could lift your umbrella over theirs.  Or, perhaps you’re on the street side of the sidewalk with someone passing next to a building.  The ‘inside’ person has no vertical options, so the ‘outside’ person tilts their umbrella to the side a bit.  I can, however, imagine intense umbrella pile ups… but maybe that’s just a silly dream.

So – umbrella names?  Let me describe it a bit… it’s black, with a brown wooden u-shaped handle.  The ‘release’ button is on the stick and it resembles a cuff-link a bit.  The release is very smooth and pops all the way up in one action.  Oh – I did notice that it’s shape provides a pretty serious uplift when the wind gets under it.

With this madness I bid you good night. 🙂

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2 responses to “Rain, sweat and umbrellas

  • Andra

    Ian! I am enjoying reading about your journey abroad. I can’t imagine. Are you way taller than everyone? I would think your umbrella would already be above most people your path crosses. Total insanity. And the entry on ordering in the restaurant. How frustrating this must all be.
    I think your umbrella sounds very formal and business looking. A little vanilla if you will. I think of some boring umbrella living a blah life and now, oh! the opportunity to be in a bag of mixed nuts with some foreigners! That umbrella is living it up, seeing the world!
    I vote for Chauncey. I picture a lean, regal, English umbrella that has always been a bit of a bore, but now life is getting exciting. He is a mover and a shaker. Please keep posting. I am enjoy reading your adventures!

  • Ankush

    The navigating Umbrella things are very similar to what we experience in India too. Especiallyin Bombay city:)

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