Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Zen of Road Rage Management

I have always found driving in Japan very irritating. The narrow streets, the poor visibility of stop signs, the constant maelstrom of cars, bicycles and pedestrians everywhere you go.

At some level I was always cursing the situation. Particularly the poor city planning. I can't believe they allow some of these streets to be used for two-way traffic.

I first started driving here in the late 90s, then for a few years I did not drive. A new law came out whereby long-term residents cannot use an international license to drive here. I did not feel motivated enough to get my Japanese license. But my poor wife always ended up driving everytime we had a car outing and I felt bad so I gave in and got my Japanese license a couple of months ago. The frustration factor came back in full force.

But I finally had my long-awaited epiphany yesterday. I can't really describe it but it was a really deep feeling of just letting go. So what if the streets are narrow? So what if the majority of other drivers out there are dolts? Cursing the situation is like cursing the rain.

I realized that this constant level of irritation was a big drain on my energy and helped nothing. It is better to just accept it and do my part by driving safely.

There is a difference between knowing something in one's head and actually feeling it in one's bones. This was a case of the latter. I am almost entirely a head-oriented person so such moments are rare but precious.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Late night tennis

For the past few months my wife and I have been taking tennis lessons at a huge new indoor tennis complex near our station, around 10 minutes from our house by foot.

So far we were in a Wednesday midday class, starting at 12 noon. It is kind of cool to be freelancing and being able to play tennis at such a time on a weekday, it felt like a bit of a charmed life.

Anyway a new project is going to require me to be at a client site during the day and I had to change the time. Charmed lives are usually temporary. I figured if I am going to make it in the evening I might as well make it really late, since the purpose is that it doesn't clash with anything business-related. It turns out the last lessons are pretty darn late, starting at 10:40 pm and ending at 12 midnight, and I took that time slot. Kasumi has continued with the 12 noon lesson.

I had my first lesson at that new time slot yesterday and the atmosphere was quite different. In the daytime slot the other students were unsurprisingly mostly housewives. It was all pretty genteel and laid back. While very polite, it was also very impersonal.

In the new slot the people are younger and funkier. The girls are hyper and giggly. The guys seem a little more aggressive. There is one guy who looks like a computer otaku. A couple of the guys were just standing around talking when they should have been practicing. I overheard them saying some stuff about some of the girls in the class. I have a feeling things are not going to be just impersonal tennis practice here.

I never thought midnight madness would be a description for a tennis lesson.