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Somewhere between waking & sleeping

September 8, 2009

A little dedication in my post title to Air:

Well, there’s such a lot that’s happened between now and the last post. My own fault due to lack of updating. My final days were spent in the Geordie heartland of Newcastle at my Grandparent’s house with mum. We floated about places, shopping, taking photos (much to a certain mother’s vexation) around Newcastle & Duhram mostly. One day we had a late lunch at Yo!Sushi in Fenwicks, and there was a battle of the bands on the main street: a group of young hipster kids were playing bluegrass tunes until Christian rockers with amps took the centre stage (literally). There were people dressed up as chickens, and even a dancing milkshake:

Before that we stopped off at a nook of a place I forget the name of. Its roads were set up like a maligned grid, posh shops pushed up against the Poundlands. The experience was quite disorientating, although we did find a glorious hidden shop called “The Treasure Chest”:

It was brimming with stuff of real vintage – not modern imitations – bits & bobs of every kind. There were some truly gorgeous clothes, although I’m sure they would not have suited me in the slightest, a girl can still drool:

But when the time came to leave, me, mum, grandma and grandad set off for Newcastle airport. Grandma was looking lovely with her silk scarf and Grandad in his beret. Tres francaise. We waited around a bit before going up to the departure lounge, where mum gave me a great big hug. I didn’t cry, though I’m sure I would have if the goodbye was any longer. Like ripping off a bandaid.

The rest of the flight(s) were spent in some kind of bubble, not realising at the time, that I was still not thinking about Japan as this tangible thing I would soon encounter. In any case the break at Amsterdam was lovely. They had GIANT chuppa-chupps!

I really wanted to buy a Dutch magazine with my spare euros, they looked so cool. However I spent my money on a neat polarising filter for my camera, some Miss Dior Cherie perfume and some more OPI gear (addicted much??).

Pretty much everything from arrival at Narita to arrival at dorms sucked majorly. A warning to all future Keio students – plan, plan, plan. And don’t bring two suitcases. That can’t stack on each other, or you may end up just breaking down in a blubbering heap in the middle of the Tokyo Station subway. None of the Tokyoites had the time of day for my sumimasens or shitsureishimases, and it was perhaps the feeling of being blanked, and totally, totally excluded that pushed me. Fortunately a fellow (rather good looking) gaijin asked me if he could help – there wasn’t much that could be done, so he bared with my hysterical babble until we went our seperate ways. It was comforting to have a proper conversation with someone – the majority of staff at Narita’s english was, honestly, quite poor, and again at the train station. There was a definate Lost In Translation moment when one of the airport staff told me cheerfuly to “Turn right!” whilst gesturing to the opposite! It was very surreal, in that she just kept repeating this, oblivious to the dilemma she had (quite funnily in retrospect) placed on me.

Although one very gorgeous, tall Japanese guy helped me out with my luggage in the waiting lounge at Amsterdam/on the plane – on arrival as people streamed out we gave me a smile and a wave, which was just lovely. Not photos of him, alas.

Getting the train to Shin-Kawasaki (my nearest station) was not the end of the saga, nooo. What followed was an intensely awkward, if well-intentioned attempt at conversation with the elderly taxi driver as to where this dorm was. He spoke quite fast and low, using lots of slang. I would catch a noun, and latch on to it and doing what I loathe most: the glazed eyes nod. The last resort of the truly desperate. In the end he drove me to the local police station – a tiny square box, and spoke to the single, equally old, officer there. It’s wierd being at the other end of a language barrier; now I can definately appreciate how people feel coming to the UK if they aren’t confidant in English, and just how easy it is to take a backseat and not try, out of shyness more than anything.

I got to Plume IS in the end (pronounced: pu-ra-mu ee-zu), and that’s where things started looking up. My room is larger than I’d thought – longer, really. I’ll go into detail later. So I guess this post isn’t as much about my first day as I’d have hoped, so the next post will be a whopper, promise!

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