From Hirakata, With Love…

Kinki Osaka.... says it all...

Japan is strange. In its own sweet way.

George Carlin once said that when you’re born, yet get a ticket to the freak show. I say that when you’re born in Egypt, you get a front row seat.

Which means?

It means that having lived in Egypt for 20 years, my perception of what’s strange and what’s not strange is completely distorted:

It is strange to get paper work done without having to bribe some people. It is strange to have people bowing to you while repeating ‘thank you’ for 4878070897 times just because you bought a bottle of water. It is strange to walk around the street with a Hello Kitty towel in your hand. It is strange to stop walking when the lights are red even though the street is empty. It is strange to see a 90 year old man, riding a bike, holding an umbrella with his right hand, texting with his cellphone with his left, avoiding pedestrians on the 90 cm sidewalk and still maintaining his balance all the way. It is strange that when the bus schedule says that arrival is on 7:34, the bus does arrive on 7:34 – not 7:33, not 7:35, but 7:34. It is strange that one kg of tomatos costs you 20 dollars, while spending a night in a karaoke club with ‘all you can drink’ can cost you just about the same.

It is strange to find porn magazines being sold in supermarkets, one shelf away from children’s coloring books.

It is strange that you’re not allowed to use your cellphone on a train or a bus, or else people will start giving you looks as dirty as Egyptian trash.

Which reminds me: It is strange that you have to clean trash before throwing it away… Or else the trash company won’t take away your stuff, thus leaving your trash bags infront of your door for the whole neighborhood to see…

It is strange that last night I walked for an hour. Bare foot. In the street. And my feet didn’t become black as hell.

Even spetic tank covers have some kind of art... Remember the ones in Egypt? Wait! We don't have septic tank covers in Egypt, so people fall and DIE!

It is strange that an old man can stop you on the street, greet you and talk to you about Egypt, Tutankhamun and the pyramids, then give you candy… and he’s not a pedophile…

My point is, everything here is the complete opposite to what I have been learning, experiencing and living for the past 20 years. But the thing is, I like it. I like it so much and I can’t imagine giving it up anytime soon.

And it would be a lie to say that I don’t miss some aspects of my sweet Egyptian life (eg. mom’s kushari, friends, arabic curses and utter randomness).

But when you live in Japan, you’re not only in the front row seat of an excellent freak show, you’re actually the freak on the stage.

And everyone knows I love freaks.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dahlia
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 05:59:22

    if japan should be getting any promotional articles, that one should be it. I also despise them for having artistic septic tank covers.

    Reply

  2. andrew howard
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 14:19:31

    Amazing Dina!

    Reply

  3. Jasmine
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 17:24:49

    Well put LOL I love your comment about the tank covers in Egypt– or the lack of it XD Very cute and quirky post about your journey thus far. 🙂 Hope to see more!

    Reply

  4. Nicki
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 19:45:00

    Just incase you were wondering, septic tank covers in England are not patterned in any way! I find it interesting to read about the differences which you are experiencing: England is definitely more like Japan 🙂

    Reply

  5. Jess Csanky
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 21:02:14

    Dina,

    I love the way you see the world, and I’m amazed by your writing. I am ever thankful that we’ve met, and I need some Dina/Jess time asap. We’ll get lost 🙂

    Reply

  6. Yasminah
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 05:21:20

    I love you ya D… I love your writing and even though I told you to focus on the experience more than the writing I’m always secretly waiting for you to write something :$ Have fun every single day ❤ ❤

    Reply

  7. Sherif Mokhtar
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 18:00:18

    D, first things first, we miss you like hell. second, your blog is amazing. my only complaint thus far is that you don’t write daily!

    u never cease to amaze me, and I can’t wait until your column in Major Magazine is published (even though it has nothing to do with Japan!!)
    and hey, pull out those facebook albums, we want full resolution 😉

    Reply

  8. Aya Abbas
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 17:11:21

    Loved this blog post .I enjoyed the rhythm and the way you introduced the strange encounters you’re facing in Japan . Well done .I’m glad to know you’re enjoying your time !

    Reply

  9. Grega
    Dec 06, 2010 @ 00:00:46

    Great post! Btw, I’m moving from Tokyo to Hirakata in January. What is there to do in Hirakata? Do you know maybe of any language exchange programs in Hirakata, as I’d like to continue practicing my Japanese.

    Thanks 🙂

    Grega

    Reply

    • Dina
      Dec 06, 2010 @ 17:50:57

      Thank you, Grega! Certainly doesn’t match up to your very informative yet very amusing blog!

      A move from Tokyo to Hirakata? It’s bound to be a culture shock…. Actually, I like Hirakata… It pretty much has everything you can find in Tokyo, albiet on a much, much, much smaller scale (but whatever it is, it is there. ). Also, I love the fact that it’s 20 minutes from Osaka and about the same from Kyoto.. So you basically have access to… everything!

      I don’t know of language exchange programs in Hirakata apart from the one my university (Kansai Gaidai) offers to its international students, to be honest. However, I do know there are several volunteer groups based in Osaka.. I would be happy to get more info about that and update you! 🙂

      Reply

  10. Grega
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 02:04:35

    Hey there.

    Well if you come by some information please let me know, as I’m very eager to practice my Japanese after spending first 4 months in Japan only learning the Japanese language. The fun part may be over too soon, as I start working in Hirakata (SANYO). So sadly, my Tokyo adventure is coming to an end in 2 weeks :). I subscribed to your blog in my RSS reader and look forward to your future posts. Also, I registered at TheBlogFarm (which I saw on your site), but I’m not really sure how to make the best of it. My blog appears to be on it, but do people need to look specifically for it to find it? Or is there some other way to show it to people? Take care!

    Reply

    • Dina
      Dec 15, 2010 @ 13:32:07

      Hello!

      I have found this volunteer group, and it seems pretty good…
      http://www.kcat.zaq.ne.jp/aaadi605/volunteer-e.html

      Since I don’t know anyone actually did join, I will keep searching, maybe I stumble upon something else…

      Enjoy what’s left from your Tokyo adventure… I’d go there every other weekend, only if I were rich enough! Hopefully you won’t hate Hirakata….. It’s different.. Not “bad”, but quite “different”.

      I am trying to unravel the mystery of blogfarm as well :d Apparently it’s like a blog data base, so your blog will be listed under a category, and when someone is skimming through “your” category, your blog will show up.

      Take care, Grega! 😀

      Reply

  11. Maha el Kholy
    Apr 08, 2011 @ 23:10:37

    Dina, I love it ba2a bgd ! 😀
    I envy you ! msA !

    Reply

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