If you found me searching for the lyrics to the children's song, you can find them here.
I am a researcher in bionanotechnology currently living and working in Tokyo. I moved out here nearly three years ago, against my better judgement but in search of adventure. It has certainly been an adventure and not one I would have missed for the world.
I am trying to retrain as a designer and you may see the odd example of my work appear here as I progress.
I also indulge in opinionated rambling.
All the artwork by Nell on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
On mobile phones and other things.
I have spent several hours diligently giving my phone the benefit of the doubt and doing my best to grow to love it. I have succeeded in some ways, but it seems that Softbank (in their wisdom) have replaced the Windows Mobile operating system with their own. They have removed any trace of the GPS and download capability – this is unfortunate as these were the ONLY reasons I wanted the phone. This is heart breaking, because it is a REALLY good little gadget. If they had left it the way Samsung intended, it would be knocking the iPhone into touch. I am officially heartbroken.
I plan to go back to the shop and ask them to help me download Skype in case I am missing something obvious. If, as expected, I am told it isn’t possible, I am going to try cynically bursting into tears.[/disillutionedgeekery]
A week ago I promised you The Moving Story Of One Girls Trip Across Tokyo. I now have a bit of spare time so here you are:
As some of you may already be aware, I had to rush to the letting agent (dragging my dangerously overloaded enormous suitcase) and pick up the keys to my new place. I had to drop my suitcase in the flat and then race across Tokyo in time to assist with dismantling the sofa I have bought, load it onto the truck that had been hired for the purpose and ride back across Tokyo in the cab with the driver. I was due at 13.45, the truck and driver were due at 14.15 and it was about an hours drive away. I expected to be back in my new home and unloaded by 17.00 at the latest. The driver had been booked and instructed and knew what was expected of him and when (or so we thought…).
When I woke up it was chucking it down (as you will know from my post on the day), originally, I had been told this would mean delaying as there was no way to protect the sofa from the rain. You will also know that, in the event, I received an email just as it was almost too late for me to get there in time, telling me the driver had a tarpaulin and we were all systems go. I dutifully threw my remaining possessions into the suitcase and sploshed out into the pouring rain.
Some time later, I arrived at the Ken’s house, damp and tired but only 15 minutes behind schedule. I was informed that the van man (who had already picked up a fridge up from Ken’s house for someone else) was running late. He only had to go 30 mins across town though, and he had already been gone an hour, so Ken was hopeful that he wouldn’t be long. We proceeded to dismantle the sofa and Ken and his wife packed a large quantity of their worldly goods into boxes for me to take away for free. We chatted merrily while packing and after around an hour, we were finished, so we sat around and drank tea and shared tall tails of Japanese . Sometime later there was still no sign of the van and, with awkward pauses growing in frequency and length, Ken called the driver. He claimed he would be about an another hour and promised to call when he was close. Another hour later, and with us now sitting in various levels of blue funk, staring out of the window at the grey concrete balcony and even greyer sky, the phone rang and our tardy van man assured us he was near by. With some relief, we began trotting up and down the stairs (4 flights).
As we carried the last boxes down to the lobby, the truck arrived. It was tiny. It looked like something a small holder would load his marrows onto to transport them to the local farmers market. First the driver (about 78 years old and 4′ 11″) climbed out of the cab, followed by his young assistant. Ken turned to me and raised his eyebrows, evidently he was also wondering whether the assistant intended to catch the train. I heard Ken say something under his breath, it sounded like “he was on his own for the fridge!”. I stood uselessly by while ken directed the other males in the correct loading of a truck, muttering all the while. There were occasional expletives and comments about “not knowing how to do his job”. I wish I had taken a photo of the truck, it wouldn’t have looked out of place on the streets of Mumbai once it was loaded. By now, the rain had more or less cleared up. This was fortunate, as the tarpaulin turned out to be a 3 foot square piece of carpet. Finally, the 5 of us stood by the cab and it was crunch-time, Ken asked the driver, how his helper was getting to my house. There was a stunned silence and then a flurry of Japanese, I caught the words “kanajo” and “densha”, or “she” and “train”. I shrugged desperately and asked how he planned to get into my apartment if I was stuck on a train halfway home. At this point the assistant jumped in with a a sulky suggestion, in good English with a strong french accent, that I would probably be faster on the train anyway. Somewhat surprised by the apparent employment of a French university student to help with the move, I stood by again while there was another flurry of Japanese, too fast for me to follow. Ultimately, the driver smiled once at me, turned on his heel and got in to the cab. Ken explained that he intended for both of us to travel in the cab with him. As we opened the door he gestured to the student to climb in and straddle the transmission. With a disaffected air but little choice, he settled himself onto the handbrake with one foot in my foot well and the other in the driver’s. With some effort, I squeezed myself into the remaining space and slammed the door, praying that it would hold – there was no chance of my being able to put the seat belt on. After some cringingly embarrassing action where the driver attempted to let off the hand break from underneath and between my companion’s legs, we drove off.
The situation was rather intimate and I felt it was only polite to ask my fellow traveller about himself. I asked where he was from originally, and how he came to be helping the old man. He confirmed he was French and said he was there because he had booked the van to help him and his two housemates move house at 9am that morning. I cannot do this revelation justice in text, but if I were directing the movie, there would have been a dramatic zoom into my stunned expression and a screeching crescendo on the violin. I questioned him some more: it turned out that they had achieved one full load out of three so far (it was now getting on for 6pm). After that, the driver had collected him and, with only the most cursory of explanations, taken him to Ken’s. So that’s what he had been doing during his inexplicable absence after collecting the fridge – we had suspected pachinko! The journey took some time, the most memorable moments for me were Lawrence’s realisation that there were 5 sofa cushions on the truck bed behind him and no way he could get any of them between him and the hand brake, the driver’s incessant slamming of the gear lever into his crotch at each gear change and one heart-wrenching moment where, during a traffic jam, Lawrence whimpered “we will never arrive, we will die on this road”.
We did arrive, eventually, and with much getting lost. I won’t go into the full details here but, in spite of being handed a map and insisting that he knew where he was going, the driver still tried to take me a train station at some distance from where I live. At one point he just stopped on the expressway to ask me if we were close, you need to experience the size and complexity of Tokyo’s transport system to understand the futility of this question. Without Lawrence to translate we would never have arrived and I still had to get angry and shouty before he would stop driving us to a place I knew was in the wrong direction. How on earth he though he was going to find it without me in the cab I have no idea. I had to navigate us from the station nearest to my home, in spite of the map he had on the dashboard. To quote Ken’s wife, “I don’t think he’s very, uh, smart… um. hmmm.”
You shouldn’t take from this, that I am in any way upset. I had to wait for a bit at Ken’s but in return I was only charged half price for the inconvenience, I got an extra body to help carry and a translator to help get me home. I am exceedingly grateful for the way things turned out, without Lawrence, I would still be in that damnable van. He on the other hand, had a hellish day and my heart went out to him as I waved him off to transport the ramaining two loads at gone 7pm. He wouldn’t give me his address, he thought I was going to send him cash, but I did manage to wrench his email out of him so I plan to try again for the address so I can send him something nice to show my appreciation.
1. but leaving a lottery-number generator that is activated by shaking the handset. Gah.
2. The screen is a tad smaller, the touch interface isn’t quite as good (of course), and it has extra buttons that spoil it’s lines, but the camera and screen resolution are out of this world and with WM it let’s you download 3rd part aps to your hearts content.
3. Although the original operating system was in English, the phone is now running the English translation of Softbank’s Japanese software and is a little clunky, to put it mildly.
4. Do you see what I did there?!
5. No word of an exaggeration, quoted verbatim.