The First Week.2


The typhoon had diverted paths, and by near midnight, the crickets had joined a familiar soundscape in the evening, audible above winds or rain. By morning, trains were running as usual, and so, my first week started, on time. On time means, surviving the rush hour train and bus (2 trains, 1 bus to work 1.5h one way), and changing into uniform for the morning calisthenics before the normal operating hours. The body remembers the ラジオ体操. The music, and the male voice calling out the rhythm coming out of a small boombox is enough to awaken my body to the routine. There is a colleague who always is one tempo before everyone, which makes me smile at the start of each day.

Because of the typhoon, my hello-world introduction was postponed til the second day of work. While it was not the worst public speaking I have delivered, it was too spontaneous and earnest, not necessarily in the best way. Also, the indifferent faces in the audience did not make it feel better. It made me want to join a toast masters’ club for the Nth time. I should really finally do that here. Thank goodness one person was smiling for whatever reason, it made my day.

I realised how much I rely on visual aids to activate my public speaking. It is my baby blanket. I can always look back to the slide, assured that the bright rectangle has my back. It does not help either that I now have to talk in Japanese in public, especially following an introduction in formal Japanese. This will never be my style of speaking, as it makes me nervous. The formal Japanese does not come naturally for me. Then I saw myself talking with hand gestures. The moment my arms swam out laterally, the air in the room shrank due to imaginary gasps. I instinctively understood no one had moved their hands beyond the sides of their bodies.

These experiences though, were great reminders (again) that I should just be myself, rather than trying to transform into someone I am not. There will be many things that will challenge me here, I did not need to add pretending-to-be-someone-else to the list.


Was it due to dehydration, early mornings, long crowded commuting hours, or speaking and typing in Japanese the entire day that did me in? The first two days I had a massive head ache at the end of the day. I did not seem to connect with anyone, but no wonder, it was only day 2.

Then I already had to ask for the morning of Wednesday to go to city hall, to do personal administrative things that I could and probably should have done earlier, like announcing I have landed, reissuing the stamp registration card (yes, it has the role that signatures have abroad – it is that red stamp you see in paintings) and reissuing the retirement fund card, because they have been lost somewhere in my father’s house. The rest of the day was spent mainly coordinating schedules with others to start to learn the ropes. After that, the week was a blur. It passed by one meeting after another. I am also not used to this. I like moving around as part of my work.  I have to start establishing my own rhythm here.


I never really understood people who lived for Fridays. This time, I must admit I was happy to leave work promptly at 17pm and hop on the train to go see my sister’s family. I also have plans to meet up with groups of friends in Tokyo for the weekend.

Tokyo is only 2.5 hours away. I boarded the train with 4 small Halloween cakes inside an insulated bag.


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