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on the road - 6 09 2004 - 20:22 - katatonik

Natural forces, or likewise

Occasioned by the Shintsunetoyo-maru’s captain’s unten-inemuri (napping while steering a vehicle), which led to that glorious vessel’s slamming right into three homes, with nobody seriously injured, well, occasioned by that freak accident, K. and H. discussed how to measure the weight of a huge cargo ship, behind my back as I was busy shipping megatons, no, gigabytes of pdf-files of books and articles on Indian philosophy and grammar on my external harddisk. G. called my on the mobile phone, in between. He’d just gotten up, in far-far-away-republic, and there was some deep vocal exchange, earthquake-style (cf. below).

Earlier that day, we (at Hiroshima) had given up tomorrow’s plans. We wanted to go to the Pacific Ocean and do some whale-watching. Alas, it turns out yet another Taifun is approaching the area, and with waves of 10 metres high, we probably won’t get to see many whales (and might just end up doing a Shintsunetoyo-maru-captain skit). So we won’t go.

B. and U. walked into the room, and started talking about yesterday’s earthquakes. One around 7 p.m., one around 12 p.m. Both had their epicentres far away from here, but they were still astonishingly, well, present.

The first one was a long, extended tremble, from deep down there (and it’s always been this depth of movement that made me freeze, completely freeze, and it keeps doing that – you can feel this depth, you can feel it’s not just a huge truck going by, and there’s just no escape from that feeling). Minutes, I thought. Two minutes, B. said. Much longer than that, I thought.

Afterwards, a few slow swings of the building back and forth, this and that side, as if the earth was tired from Techno and needed some chillout movements, thank you.

After the first quake, H. and A. came out of the bedroom (N., their three-year-old daughter, didn’t). H. said she felt the earth was still moving. That’s because you have a heavy hangover, A. said. H. nodded. I nodded. We all nodded. The chandelier stopped swinging.

They went back to sleep. I went back to nursing my very own hangover with caffeine, crap TV, and Sanskrit.

Around midnight, I felt the second earthquake, a sequence of slow swings. Earth in prolongued chillout mood. Ha, ha, very funny. I saluted whoever’s sense of humour was responsible for this.

O. hadn’t felt either of the earthquakes, he said this afternoon. He’d been busy slurping pasta during the first – granted, slurping spaghetti may seem a little bit like the earth moves, hypnosis-wise -, and sleeping during the second.

We discussed ships and earthquakes a little longer, while my own harddisk was dispensing a few gigabytes of digitally photographed books on Indian philosophy on their incredible (Mac-only) computer network. Then we went to eat Sushi, and drink local Sake.

I declined the kani no noumizu (?????), literally “crab’s brain-water”, essentially green slime and formerly a crab’s brain. I’d eaten that once out of the deceased creature’s opened skull, and had not been impressed.

I then ate Sushi with fried Shiitake (a diversification attempt of the product that might just as well be dropped again, if you ask me), and debated which of the bones from a delicioiusly steamed Tai’s – sea bream’s – head left on the plate was the one that confirmed the saying that one of them exactly looked like the shape of the fish. Imagine one of your cheek’s bones looked exactly like a human figure. We ate more, and had Misoshiru afterwards, as O. was worried that the Sushi cooled down body-temperature too much. After a few more sips of Sake, we concluded that all Tai bones look like Tai. We nodded, all nine of us.

They walked me back to the station. It was still not raining. It should have been raining, as there’s a Taifun coming up. Since we’d cancelled our whale trip, I’d called J. to tell him I was free tomorrow. J. told me that the school he’s teaching at would be closed for tomorrow, due to the Taifun, so he was free, too. So would be his Porsche, I thought, the one (people told me) he bought a few years ago, what with all the money he must have left living here as a single person with a respectable foreign teacher salary and good investment or whatever managers and stuff. and such.

When I arrived back in Hiroshima, I couldn’t resist a brief stop at the bar. M. pulled out some better Whiskey, and told freaky stories, and put on some freaky music. German folk rock that some German Ford employees (Hiroshima is Mazda-headquarters, and Mazda was taken over by Ford years ago, and now there’s all these German Fordians around) left him with. Music, that M. said he can only react to by saying “sou desu ka?” (“ahem, really=”). Some of that music was by a man called “Hoeberle”. We nodded it away, quickly.

I got to meet Z., who’d returned from studying marketing, and such, in Kansas, USA. We chatted nicely, this and that, pigs in Kansas, and his friend who’d studied to be a veterinarian and allegedly castrated hundreds of pigs per day, as their hormones would make their meat bad, or such. I announced I was leaving. So did Z.

I knew what that meant, signal-wise. Five years ago, I would have been first thrilled, then enthused, then naked, then annoyed.

As it turns out, these days I just mount a bicycle, and ride far away, to hopefully find my mobile phone blinking, in blue. Oh, rain’s starting now, but the earth is quiet.

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