Sunday, 6 January 2008

PostHeaderIcon Wakey Wakey

Before I begin the main segment of this post I should explain a few things about my town.

Each day I am awoken at 7am with a little jingle from a loud speaker just behind my window. When I first got here my reaction was "What the hell is that and why is it waking me up?". I had gotten used to it until they repaired a speaker right next to my apartment and now it wakes me up all the time. Lately a little van with a speaker has been driving about at 7:15am announcing something in Japanese. Occasionally I am woken up before 7am from the sound of plinky plinky Japanese style music as all the old women dance about outside the town hall. Back in August I was dumping my rubbish at the designated point when I passed them on the way home and every set of eyes was fixed on me even though their bodies were moving in the opposite direction.

At noon there is an air raid siren that goes off to let everyone know it's lunchtime. On my second day here I was walking along the coast and thought there was a tsunami about to strike. At 3:15pm there is a lovely 3 minute jingle encouraging everyone to do the stretching exercises. I have yet to see ANYBODY perform this yet I need to listen to this alpha male telling me to stretch EVERY BLOODY DAY. It has gotten to the stage where I can't stand this intrusion and quickly stick in my headphones and listen to some calming music. There is another alarm at 5pm to let everyone know it's time to go home... although I need to stay another 45 minutes. Then at the back of 8pm there is another notice from the fire brigade to "Turn off yer gas and don't start any fires now". After listening to it for 5 months I'm kind of tempted to go cook something straight after it out of sheer spite.

Nobody else seems to care about these daily noises but sometimes I find them unnecessary, annoying and intrusive. I can't help but feel I'm living in a mix between some totalitarian state and the little town in 'The Prisoner'. As I've been off work lately I'm finding the 7am alarms exceptionally annoying and I've sometimes found myself gargling sleepy insults to them from under my covers.

This morning I was awoken by the sound of an air raid siren. I remember questioning whether they use the siren for the 7am alarm every morning but I ignored it all the same. It went off and came back on for a second time which somewhat caught my attention. I glanced at my clock and it read 7:32am which seemed exceptionally unusual. I stayed in bed but I was waiting with tense anticipation to see if it went off for a third time. This is because I have been told that when a tsunami is due to strike the air raid siren will go off three times in a row. Why they even use the bloody thing for a town alarm clock is beyond me but I digress. When it went off a third time I launched myself out of my bed totally convinced that the Pacific was going to come knocking on my door. I threw on some clothes as fast as I could and threw on my shoulder bag that had all my stuff in it. I tried to find my phone to tell Noah and his friend Eric that WE WERE GOING TO DIE but I couldn't find it (luckily in the end).

I remember thinking back to the tsunami leaflet and all the stuff you should take: food, water, money, some clothes.... torch.... "I HAVE A TORCH!" I thought.
So there I am standing at my kitchen window trying to process all the information. "It can't be from the Nankai earthquake or I would have felt it. Maybe it is from out in the Pacific somewhere. Hmm that means it won't be that big... phew I'm not going to die. Wait a second... why is there nobody running around in terror?" I continued to look out my window for 20 seconds before seeing an old man walking his dog. For a good 60-90 seconds this morning I had fully accepted that a tsunami was about to hit my town. It was an unusual experience to say the least. The most overwhelming thought was "Right... what in the hell am I meant to do?" more than anything else. I cursed my town and went back to bed.

I woke up two hours later to the sound of shouting and marching. It sounded like there was an army walking behind my apartment. Do you know what? I didn't give a damn at this point. I didn't even bother to get up and look because I was fed up. My only guess is that there was some practice event this morning for a tsunami. It wouldn't surprise me... yeah Sunday morning eh? Let's just have a good old time playing the air raid siren and tell everyone in town apart from the dirty foreigner.
I slept in till the back of 1pm which is pretty unusual but it was great. It was amusing when I processed everything later on. I actually laughed when I saw my red torch abandoned on the kitchen table and even more so when I turned it on and the batteries were dead.

"Okay Craig... we're surrounded by water at 8am in the morning. What did you bring?"
"Well, I got me a torch that doesn't work."


1st Lady said...

I'm sorry.. but that was hysterical! I hope your foot is on the road to recovery.

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About Me

I am a 24 year old Scotsman currently teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. I live in a small town on the east coast of Kochi prefecture.