Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How wars start

I read an article this morn about how the the variances in local dialects makes business transactions difficult even within the same country. This made me recall a conversation I had, back when I worked in Tokyo eight years ago. {Flashback sequence, trigger wavy visuals and harp-strumming music}

grandma:
"So how are you adjusting to your first month in Tokyo?"

me:
"okay I guess. There's a ton more people than I'm used to, my entire flat is literally the size of my old bedroom in NY, and we work 14 hours a day. Yeah I'm a little stressed."

grandma:
"Sorry to hear that. Have you made any friends?"

me:
"Oh yeah, I've been going to a Health Club after work, and met some nice people there."

grandma:
"...I see."

me:
"Different kinds of folks than the ones back in the US, but at least I know we're all there for the same reason. Makes for easier conversation anyway."

grandma:
"Maybe you should find another hobby?"

me:
"How come? Nothing wrong with getting a good sweat going! It's a great stress-reliever and really energizes me. I get sore sometimes, but still, I go almost every other day!"

grandma:
"I...I..have to go. I need to speak to your parents."

me:
"okay, tell mom and dad I said hello."

I was a little puzzled at the reaction, but gave it no further thought. Days later, I found out at work that languages have a funny way of growing stale when one is not plugged in, so to speak. In my geographic isolation in the suburbia of Rockland county, New York, I had not realized that the word "Health Club" came to mean "Brothel" in Japanese slang.

1 comment:

Justin said...

Great story--nothing wrong with working up a good sweat.

Gave me a needed chuckle on a dreary, wet Wednesday morning on the 4th floor with nobody around.

 

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