Plain Talk


In preparation for water supply cut off by H.S.

I came home from a 30-minute jogging hot and sweaty at around 4:30 p.m. Then I saw on the wall inside the apartment building a notice: The electric water pumping system is out of order. We are urgently working to repair it now. Water supply will be stopped for about an hour.

I didn’t know when the notice was put up. The pump may have been fixed already, I thought. Hopeful, I walked straight to the kitchen at home and flicked the water tap up. No water came out. It felt strange imagining water gush out and getting nothing in reality. The tap produced not even one drop of water. Then I checked the shower room. The shower head looked so useless when water didn’t even trickle down. Back in the kitchen, I took a mouthful of bottled mineral water. No need to jitter. I have 10 2-liter bottles of tap water for emergency. They are numbered 1 to 10 on the white cap to keep the water fresh by using them in numerical order to water potted plants.

I took one of the bottles and poured a little to wash my hands, careful not to waste any. I opened the tap every 15 minutes to find the water wasn’t running yet. It became dark. I was sweaty before but was dry now. I imagined salt crusted on the skin.

I needed to take a pee. The toilet didn’t flush, of course. I emptied 3 bottles of tap water into a blue plastic bucket. I took a pee and tilted the bucket carefully not to spill water on the floor and not to splash hard. When the bucket was empty, some toilet paper remained floating in the bowl. I didn’t know how much water was required to flush a toilet. I used another three bottles to clear the bowl. I have already used six bottles, which is equal to 12 liters.

I trotted down the stairs to the water pump on the first floor. A man was working on the gauge panel. Another man noticed me and gestured at the water pump panel. I nodded. “We thought it’d be fixed in an hour if we replaced a part, but the problem was something else. Sorry for the inconvenience,” he said. “How much longer will it take?” I asked. “Hard to say, sorry,” he replied.

Back in the kitchen, I made tea with the mineral water, wondering if I would have to go to Seven-Eleven around the corner to take another pee later.

I put the used teacup in the sink and opened the tap out of habit, without thinking. Behold, water spurted out as usual. Woo-hoo! How nice to have running water. Needless to say, I took a shower right away.

I decided to double the tap-water bottles for emergency. I have to find space for 20 bottles. That’ll be 40 liters.

Copyright (C) 2018 H.S. All rights reserved.






The Randy Reviewer


The Return by Dasilva Arthur

Four months isn’t four years, but it’s enough to quietly settle back into a city for a second time. Living in Tokyo again after being here 4 years over 10 years ago often felt like I a had strange form of amnesia. Station and location names sounded familiar, but I didn’t know exactly why. Specific neighborhoods gave me the sensation of deja-vu as I tried to piece together exactly why. In 10 years there were changes to be sure; changes in the city, in my friends, in me. Pinpointing those changes

First, there were the obvious, surface changes made since I left. I could now get a drink from a touch screen vending machines and pay with my train pass. Robots could answer my questions in cellphone stores (thanks Pepper). As announced, the old apartment buildings that used be on Omotesando street, those beautiful, vine-covered buildings with a retro feel were destroyed and replaced with yet another shopping mall. Roppongi Hills became even more fancy, (if that’s even possible), and the new subway line, a work in progress while I was previously here is now a finished product. There were social changes too. A few more coffee drinkers and snackers on trains. More foreign workers in customer service jobs.

The changes which had the biggest impact on me were the ones I found in my friends.What I looked forward to most was reconnecting with them, seeing where they were now in their lives. In daily one to one meet-ups in parks, bars, or cafes, we talked about how much time had passed, the realization that we were getting older, and no longer able to be Harajuku-hanging, Shibuya-Shopping club-hopping party people every weekend. We laughed as we swapped stories about the same events remembered differently by each of us. There was a definite feeling of having come through something, and now we were looking at it from the other side. It felt good to know that despite getting older, changing jobs, and new relationship status, some things, some feelings never change.

They say wisdom comes with time, appreciation does too. In my old Tokyo life, I rarely took time to appreciate the variety of food available here and stuck to what I knew. I consistently went back to the same areas, instead of exploring different neighborhoods. I spent more money on alcohol, my club life and generic clothing that could have been better used on travel, one-of-a-kind cafes or eateries and locally designed or traditional clothes. I guess my friends aren’t the only ones who've changed.

As I prepare to leave again, I realized this time around my time in Japan was filled with brief moments which felt like I had never left and I was the same person that I used to be, only to have life come crashing in with some harsh realities.

I’m left wondering what changes the third trip will bring.

What’s App With You?



It's been almost a month after entering the new year of 2018 and for many people their resolution was to be better at managing their time. How is that working out for you? For those who are sticking to your guns, that's great, but for those who are having trouble keeping up with the schedule, this app might be your savior. Eventail is the missing calendar widget for your iPhone. It displays the events of the next few days in a compact, yet readable manner. The app shows a mini-view for three to five days that fits nicely in one row. You can bring a detailed view of a specific day to see its full title, start and times by tapping on it. Eventail’s simple interface makes it easy to select the calendars to display, how many days to display and the number of events per day. You can also choose to see the start time of the first event for each day.

Easy Spending:

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Tokyo Voice Column


Going to Jamaica by Mardo

I just got back from visiting my wife’s family in Jamaica. She had always warned me that Jamaicans liked to pray a lot, and now I know why... Driving. Nothing sharpens the mind to the impending threat of death like being in a car in Jamaica. While we were driving my wife was constantly crying out to Jesus and I was more than happy to let her.

The condition of the roads in Kingston was enough to make life interesting, there was some new lovely roads near the airport and some nice highways, but for the most part I was playing dodge the pothole. Not all small potholes mind you, some so big I am sure a cat or dog could easily live in them. Some roads would have been better off pulling up all the pavement and just driving on dirt!

Speaking of driving on dirt, this is what a lot of the taxi drivers would happily do. Traffic creeping along the main roads at 20km/h, nowhere near fast enough for the taxi drivers who would go off road, overtake you from the verge, and then pull back into traffic with no warning when the side of the road was blocked with something annoying like a tree or building.

This insane driving by taxi drivers, unknown to the Londoner or Tokyoite, but so familiar elsewhere in the world, was then offset by their courtesy if you needed to cut in. I could easily turn across 4 lanes of a traffic jam by merely smiling at the driver on the road. These traffic jams were so slow that people would be selling drinks and fruit at traffic lights.

I have to say the lack of indicating when changing lanes and the love of high beam made driving tricky, hard to dodge potholes when you can’t see what’s ahead and don't know who wants to go where. I have never been more happy to pay for the extra rental car insurance in my life!

I have to say I am relieved to be back in a country where road rules mean something and the roads are flat. All I have to do now is remember I can’t drive through red lights anymore.







Strange but True


They could cure baldness...?

For most us, a trip to McDonald's is still a nice little treat. It's easy, quick and pretty cheap. What's not to love? But it turns out there might be another reason to justify those little trips to the drive-thru. New research suggests that a chemical in McDonald's chips might cure baldness. Scientists have regrown hair in mice using a "simple" technique with human stem cells, reports the Daily Record. This generated fresh follicles capable of sprouting luxurious new locks. Within days the lab rodents had furry backs and scalps. Preliminary experiments suggest the groundbreaking therapy will also work for people. The Japanese team's breakthrough came after they managed to mass produce 'hair follicle germs' (HFGs) in the lab for the first time. These are the cells that fuel follicle development. They are the 'Holy Grail' of hair loss research, as they have never been regenerated before and the secret was to use the 'McDonald's fries' chemical dimethylpolysiloxane in the vessel in which they were cultured. This is added for safety reasons to prevent cooking oil from foaming. It was particularly effective for the HFGs because oxygen easily passes through. Fries anyone?

No Mayonnaise allowed!

From sweet and sour to barbecue flavor, every McDonald's fan has their favourite sauce for dipping fries in. But the fast food giant currently doesn't offer mayonnaise as a dip, leaving lovers of the creamy white egg-based sauce bereft. Now McDonald's has finally revealed the reason why it doesn't offer the dip as chiefs say there isn't enough demand for it. Mayonnaise fans need not be downhearted though as there's a secret menu hack that will allow you to get a pot of the sauce that you crave for your fries. Some customers say that they've been able to get their hands on the dip by asking a member of staff to fill a drinks lid with the mayonnaise-based sauce from the McChicken Burger. It doesn't always work but if you're patient and polite, it could pay off.