Was that ALL he said?

It's tough to find places quite as unfriendly to the lone monolingual tourist as Seoul or Tokyo. And when you're tired and hungry and not 100% well the brick-walls of credit-card refusal, language impenetrability, people with weird clothes and hair, and restaurants without picture menus start to weigh you down. The signage tells you nothing. Is this a restaurant, a hairdresser or a blow-job bar or some seedy mixture of two of the above?

When your soles are aching beyond agony, your stomach is churning, both of them urging you to make a decision right now, yet nothing is easily recognisable as food you groan a sigh of defeat and hit the Takashimaya food court. A major multinational shopping centre should something offer international for the international guest, yeah? Even if it's Japanese it should be INTERNATIONAL Japanese. A place where you don't have to jump from restaurant to restaurant to get the various stuff you are used to getting in various courses at just one place. But here as elsewhere, sushi is only available in one shop, yakitori in another, noodles in the next, tempura in the last. No, satisfaction is not to be.

So, irony of ironies, E@L ends up in a Korean restaurant in Tokyo because he couldn't be fucked walking another step... Some tofu-chigi and a seafood paejon. That'll fucking well do.

The trip to Roppongi tonight for book shopping flopped due to this tiredness, this hyper-neon and red-light-flashing-on-building existential angst or more likely to some looming lurgy - a kip of two hours threw his cyclic-GMP right out the window and it is not certain if even Viagra could unlag his emotional and physical jetness. One of the other guys was up all last night chundering and was sweating and distracted all day in the meeting, and sitting next to E@L ... Just don't feel good. Tomorrow's planned EARLY (4am) morning trip to Tsukiji fish market is on hold. Spike, get some rest, I'll not be calling.


The special trip I made here to meet the marketing people, the 3 days of irrelevant meetings I sat semi-conscious through in order to get to my reason d'travel, culminated in a brief conversation with my old boss (not in marketing) about doing a coupla Powerpoints targeted more at our semi-cretinous sales-staff and equally thick typical customer rather than the hyper-intelligent Professors of Vascular Physiology and PhDs in Electrical Engineering who have no purchasing power but to which our more typical marketing stuff is aimed. This is a major step forward! Aiming at genuine customers!

Task two is creating a proper and simple English explanation for all our technological TLAs, previously translated so as to mystify and baffle rather than enlighten and explain, and finally, task three, checking the idiom and spelling of the next round of training material before it gets "public".

Things like making sure Ergonomic is not spell-checker morphed into Egomaniac as it was in a presentation yesterday.

(I still laugh at our crappy website, where the request for entering your name is not marked "Required Field" but "It Is Indispensible".)

Nothing that could not have been conveyed in two minute phonecall or an email. But that's how business works. Sometimes. Bring you to Japan, plonk you in an out-of-the-way hotel, make you travel 75 minutes by train and bus each way, maybe make you feel sick, but try to make you feel part of the team. Even if, because you're not Japanese, you're not and never will be.


And of course there were 14 of us non-Japanese (four were from China or China Taiwan) out-numbered by 40 or more locals so there were a plethora of pure Lost in Translation moments whenever difficult questions were asked.

"When will we have XXXX feature?" was the question, innocent and yet valid enough as our allegedly technology-sharing partner company has all the patents yet now other companies are coming to market with their implementations...

Ensuing: lots of arguments and discussion amongst the Japanese, vitriolic accusations, humble apologies and harsh recriminations, bloody hari-karis and tearful resignations... The response from the session moderator and translator 15-20 minutes later wasn't even, "A future version" but rather more enigmatically, more inscrutably, more Japanesishly, "If there are no further questions we will move on to the next speaker..."

Lots of bemused Bill Murray blank looks around our side of the table...


Oh, oh, oh! The work trip to Australia is suddenly back on. So come Sunday, it's a mere 24 hours in Singapore to grab beers with friends, acquaintances and (if really desperate) fellow bloggers (in that order) and then off for 5 days in Sydddderney! Yes, we Aussies still laugh about the nomination for the 2000 Olympic bid... It's a joke only we get, remember or care about. VPS, hopefully we'll get a beer in or maybe even a wedding proposal some day next week?


Still I have to organize a guest list for my birthday party at home in three weeks (two trips to Oz in one month! My FF points are going to be over the moon!) - so I need to make a heap of phone calls next week. Meanwhile the party in Singapore (four weeks) is kicking along nicely thank you as most of the RSVPs are positive.


Speaking of Lost in Translation, I thought it was hilariously ironic when I caught a Scarlett Johansonn ad on TV, which has her sipping (those LIPS!) on a Mt Lanier (Starbucks clone ) caffe ratte as she ambles seductively through a subway (anyone remember the subway rape scene in Irreversible), or oozes sensuality by a quiet fireside.

"Is SUUUUUUuuuuuuuun--- torytime," was all I could think...



Posted by: expat@large on Jun 01, 07 | 11:15 pm | Profile


After your comment in other post, I went looking for you in both the Roppongi Hills Tsutaya and then the Aoyama book centre, obviously with no success.

Then hit a sushi bar in Roppongi for dinner followed by good old Motown House, where again I did not find you but did find something else I was seeking. Let's just say that at 4 AM, I was not thinking about going to a fish market.

Posted by: spike on Jun 02, 07 | 7:44 am

Spike: never trust anything you read on the internet! Just after I typed that comment on the previous post, I stood up and nearly fell over with exhaustion. Had a long nap and then decided to look local. Definitely have some lurgy. Am going to the book-shops this morning instead, should my sore feet and giddy head allow.

And you scored in Tokyo? HTF do you do it? I'm glad she didn't remind you of a fish market. Sometimes I have not been so fortunate.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 02, 07 | 9:42 am

Mmmm..looking forward to next week. I'll have to get all my kinky toys out. ;)

You do have my Sydney number don't you sweets?

Posted by: VirginPornStar on Jun 02, 07 | 11:48 am

You're going to Sydney next week? Shit, I'll be there week of the 18th. We need to coordinate this stuff better.

Posted by: spike on Jun 02, 07 | 11:30 pm

VPS: should I be afraid? I have your number: 666 right?

Spike: only got the confirmation on Friday night - everybody in all the offices were out... somehow I got flights, but still haven't got a hotel. Might have to kip on the floor of VPS's place.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 03, 07 | 3:10 am

You're more than welcome to sleep...I mean stay with me. *grin*

If you don't mind rowdy college boys, rowdy drunken nights with college kids and rowdy nudie runs around the campus, that is.

Posted by: VirginPornStar on Jun 03, 07 | 3:29 pm

I was s'posed to be in Sydney this week but the trip got cancelled at the last possible moment x(

E@L, you're not going to be in the UAE next week perchance?

Posted by: knobby on Jun 03, 07 | 9:09 pm

I am booking a hotel right now for Sydney...

UAE, not next week, insh'allah. Or ever.

Posted by: expat@large on Jun 03, 07 | 9:23 pm


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