Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Grindstone Day 7

Japanese girl at temple

Time: 5.18 pm
Chapter: 1, take 1
Pots of tea: 2.0
Flavour: black with honey and sudachi (native lime)
Lunch: Leftover curry, salad with cunningly devised homemade dressing
Snack: I can't read the name. But they are crunchy sweet cereal balls, very nice.

OK, so I realise there wasn't an entry yesterday. I got a bit distracted with preparations for a Xmas party. Yes, the Xmas parties have started and last night's was unusual, but strangely delightful.

Mark has a group of ladies that he tutors in English on Tuesday nights, at the home of one of the group (which also becomes a small cafe during the day). There seem to be many of these "home-cafes" dotted around the neighbourhood, though due to my shyness with speaking Japanese and the fact I have a perfectly good hot water urn at home, I haven't ventured out to try any of them.

Anyway, I digress. Last night, after I had spent some time elaborately wrapping the small gifts I had brought from NZ, we were whisked off and treated to a wonderful nabe (Japanese hotpot) meal. This is pretty much identical to the chinese hotpot - a pot of boiling soup stock is left simmering on a gas stove on the table, and various ingredients (veges, mushrooms, fish, pork, chicken and noodles) are added as people feel hungry, then fished out and eaten. It's one of the best communal meals I know. Burns are a necessary hazard with the risk increasing as things get merrier, and I have small blister on my little finger to prove it.

Meanwhile, the ladies, who had earlier grilled Mark on what I was like, introduced themselves to me and tried to use their English phrases. They expressed much astonishment, despite being prewarned, that I looked so Asian and still spoke no Japanese (I'm getting used to this). They also brought out an embarrassingly generous collection of gifts for me - a hand dyed short silk kimono, special-occasion chopsticks, special silk cloths for wrapping, and so on. They seemed baffled by the pot-pourri sachets I had brought for them as gifts (I suppose it is culture-specific).

A local old 'magic' hobbyist came to entertain us, the food kept coming including some amazing preparations of sashimi, bean paste and bamboo shoots, and we also played bingo, but luckily with the numbers in both Japanese and English. People overindulged in the local rice wine which tastes very close to water but is considerably more potent. It was a great night, excessive on many counts, but that makes it a real Xmas celebration.

Anyway, as well as catching up on the digestion, today has been spent looking at Chapter 1 which used to be Chapter 9. I expect to rewrite around 2/3rds of the novel and rejig the rest, and so far this chapter is following the trend. It's not bravery, it's just necessity.

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