Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1,2,3,4 I declare thumb-war!

The last time I twisted my foot, it was accomplished with far more flare. It involved a daring escape from a bathroom stall, whereby I had to break open a faulty door lock with my trusty crutch. Followed by a limped scuttle along the Bloemfontein movie corridor to assure Roland that I had not been kidnapped by movie pirates and finally, while high on door breaking adrenalin, a spectacular fall down those tiny movie steps in front of a few sniggering teens, a confused Roland, Mr. Homes and Dr Watson.

This time around however, I chose to be far less fancy. After just having finished building my new Darth Vader Tie Fighter with firing missiles (I am aware of what it says about my level of maturity when I enter a shop with the purpose of purchasing a new handbag and instead end up leaving with a star wars toy), I walked over to the bedroom to display it, as one does if one has no shame, on the nightstand. I then did what all lazy people are prone to do and walked over instead of around the bed. The journey there was fraught with little danger but on the way back I tripped over my jacket waiting in ambush by the foot of the bed.

Aaaaw Tie Fighter.....I cannot stay mad at you.
 I hit the tatami, foot first and had not even come to a complete rest before overdramatically asking Roland to check if my bones were jutting out at odd angles. I was immediately reassured that there was nothing more than a big, blue turning bump on my foot and that I should live. After this I was elevated and iced up and very glad indeed that I would not be spending the evening explaining to a Japanese doctor why I fell off the bed. It turned out that I would be gladder still the next morning when my injury meant that I was standing on the sideline of an athletics track while Roland was doing warm-up exercises with a crowd of Japanese residents to the tune of `It`s a small world after all`.

Please allow me to set the scene. Recently the German and I have developed a detrimental little habit of thinking we understand what someone has just said to us in rapid fire Japanese when we really have not. A great example of this cornered me the other day on my way up the stairs to my apartment. My kindly neighbor, who sells onions and oranges from his garden and who boisterously, greets me on every occasion we meet, hurried over for a chat. Two heads really are better than one when dealing with a foreign language so together Roland and I listened, cast exasperated looks at each other and asked the older gentleman to repeat a few facts a couple of times. In the end we were satisfied that we had extracted the just of the dialogue and we went on our merry way.
From what we could ascertain, we were all meeting at the elementary school on Sunday at 9:30 for what we thought was a festival, school performance or maybe even a picnic. Come Sunday morning: time (check), place (check), event (oh how optimistic we had been). As we entered the racetrack surrounded by little tents all sporting the name of a suburb on the roof (thank you train schedule for forcing me to study these particular kanji), our dreams of a picnic were slowly fading away to be replaced by the familiar fear of an organized sporting event.

While Roland and three fashionable moms were wearing jeans the rest of the crowd were sporting matching tracksuits and trainers. At least Roland, unlike the other three, was not planning to compete in heels. A moment later we were offered yellow vests to show what side of the battle line we would be fighting for and ushered under the tent. I had, had the forethought to look up the Japanese for `I am sorry, I know it is troublesome but I have sprained my foot` but not how to respond to `oh, don`t worry, we will put you in all the granny events`.

Getting told what to do
 And so it was that I found myself, forty minutes later staring up at a long pole with a bucket perched precariously on top, with my weapon of choice, a rolled up ball of socks, held tightly in my hands. Now I don`t want to brag, well actually yes I do, so let me tell you that me and my team of all over 65-year-olds kicked some serious pensioner ass and walked away with the coveted trophy of the day, some fine wet tissues.

My poor partner however spent the day kicking rugby balls, doing obstacle courses and relay racing all to the raucous applause of a new group of friends we had made earlier that morning. The comrades in question were a group of elementary school kids who had all played a round of rock, paper and scissors to determine who should ask us the first question. They started slow with `where are you from` and `what is your favorite animal` but after hearing that we like Japanese animation they went wild. `What is your favorite character, who is stronger Luffy or Zoro, who is the best dancer in Exile, who is the cutest girl in AKB48? They were super excited to hear my nickname was Frieza but felt it inconceivable that Roland did not have one and he became Sanji san (an anime character with blond hair and blue eyes) on the spot.

Sanji: The character Roland was named after.
 While I arm wrestled the under 5 crowd and engaged in thumb-wars with the under 9`s sitting on the side, Roland won us some Japanese sunlight liquid and a hand towel, his speed being motivated by the shouts of ganbatte (good luck) Sanji san from the crowd. We in turn supported the little girls as they skipped rope and the chubby boy in our group when he ate a plate of chips and drank a coke so fast that the grownups were left in the dust. The entire day was bewildering but huge fun and every evening as we walk to the shops or past the beach we are rewarded with a loud shout from a window or a little boy on a bike of `Otsukaresama deshita (thank you for your hard work), Sanji San, Frieza San!

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