Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blog from Japan - Part I

Fazurin is now in Japan on an assignment. This is note, interesting observation. Will post more as the days go by.

Tea, Coffee & Narita Airport

"Would you like tea or coffee, madam?", the pretty flight attendant politely asked, her English smooth, a hardly perceptible tinge of an American accent on her tongue.

The Japanese lady she was addressing looked at her blankly.

The girl repeated the question. "Would you like tea or coffee, madam?", with more persistence, an edge in her voice.

Still no response.

Barely hiding her exasperation, the flight attendant asked again, louder. "WOULD YOU LIKE TEA OR COFFEE, MADAM?"

The Japanese lady, uncomprehending, nodded vigorously. The flight attendant took the liberty to interpret this to mean "coffee", poured it for her and pushed her trolley to the next row of seats.

I often wonder if only English speakers are afflicted by this. Some of them tend to assume that everyone speaks English, and if people don't understand them, they seem to think that repeating whatever they are saying in a louder voice would help bridge the language gap somehow.

This incident however did not mar the VERY, VERY pleasant flight with Singapore Airlines from KL to Tokyo. I slept like a log (These guys at Singapore Airlines know what they are doing. The chairs are super-EXCELLENT). Woke up just at the right time to take dinner, breakfast or to catch passing flight attendants to ask for fruit juice, among other beverages...

The plane arrived at Narita Airport right on time and after breezing through immigration and customs, I walked up to a counter near the arrival point, mustered all the Japanese that I had in me and asked for the best way to get to Tokyo without paying an arm and a leg. 15 minutes later, clutching a 1,000 yen-worth ticket, I was on a train bound for Ueno station, Tokyo.

It's good to be back in Japan.