Thursday, July 5, 2007

July 3, 2007 Bug Paradise

I'm exhausted. The more it rains, the warmer it gets. It seems that I can drink the air around me by now. And still there are people telling me, that the "bad" part hasn't even started yet... At least most of the Japanese people around me seem to be affected by the weather as well, so it's not just the whimsical foreigner who's fighting with it.

The river that crosses my way to the train station has grown quite a bit since I first got here, although it's almost entirely covered in plants. With the humid weather, the bugs seem to come to live, and they are quite impressive - I have heard people report about the giant insects of Japan, but now I can see it with my own eyes and I haven't decided yet whether I am fascinated or a bit taken aback - the bats that circle the river at night are more or less normal size, but basically everything else, from butterflies and moths over centipedes (Tausendfuessler), spiders, ticks (Zecken), to bigger animals like crows are huge!

This (see picture), for example, is a mukade, a giant centipede - they bite like hell (I was told) and Amlingsan (SBU's President) has told us stories about how hard they are to kill! You can't step on them, because the shell's too thick. You can't drown them because they know how to swim. If you cut them in half, both parts will crawl their way - they seem to be relatives of cockroaches... His method is to slice them in as many pieces as he can, that seems to stop them... Thank god that this is not my hand!

The past two days, I have been in Procurement, the department that organizes necessary things for other departments. Most of all, I learned a lot of Japanese, as 3/5 of the procurement team didn't really speak English at all - so lots of body language and cross-translation was used. My pile of vocab cards is getting bigger every day.

I had asked Eric to find out whether I could borrow a laptop for private purposes, e.g. checking mail and writing my report. Unfortunately, SBU doesn't loan or rent out notebooks, but we made a deal - I can work on the laptop before or after office hours, if I don't use the internet too obviously for private purposes (most of the "entertainment sites" are blocked anyways). I can live very well with this agreement, so the past couple of days I have spent around 10 hours in the office. So don't get too upset with me if it takes a while to respond to emails as I won't be stopping by the internet cafe every day anymore.

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