Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Do you know if it's snowing in Japan right now? (I don't)

What should I blog about today? Gosh, it's only the third day of 2012, and I'm already asking myself this question. No good, no good. I suppose I could give you a blow-by-blow account of this morning's practice, but I don't think this is going to be very interesting; in any case, I'm not in a talking-about-practice mood right now. Besides, I have the rest of 2012 (and hopefully beyond, if the world doesn't end on December 31st 2012) to bore you with my, ahem, infamous practice reports :-)

Maybe I'll start by relating an encounter I just had a few minutes ago. Right now, I'm sitting in the coffeeshop on the ground floor of my apartment complex, writing this post. A few minutes ago, this older gentleman who is also a regular at this place came in and ordered his usual poison (a medium mocha and two (yes, two!) chocolate croissants). We know each other casually, and have exchanged a few words here and there in the past. As he was standing around waiting for his order to come up, he moved over to where I was sitting. At that moment, I was doing my usual coffeeshop act: Sit as inconspicuously as possible in a corner, stare very hard (or at least pretend to stare very hard) at my computer or at some book that I may or may not be reading, and simultaneously observe the world without drawing attention to myself.

Why do I put up this act? You may ask. Well, the reason is twofold: (1) I actually go to coffeeshops to get stuff done (including blogging). In order to do this, I try to socialize as little as I can get away with. (2) While little distractions like taking a couple of minutes to observe the world can be fun, and can be a welcome break from whatever I happen to be doing, I try not to be distracted for more than a couple of minutes at a time, because if I get distracted for longer than that, I get taken away from whatever it is that I am supposed to be doing. I know, I'm weird like that. 

Well, in any case, the fact that this older gentleman noticed me meant that my act was unsuccessful this time. So, as I was saying, he moved over to where I was sitting, and asked me how I was doing ("Quite good", I replied). And then he asked me if it was snowing in Japan! Heck, I thought to myself, how on earth am I supposed to know if it was snowing in Japan? Do I look like some kind of global-weather geek who has some funny Iphone app that gives a moment-by-moment update on the weather in every obscure corner of the globe? (Full disclosure: I don't even own an Iphone.)

Or maybe (probably more likely) he thought I was Japanese, and would therefore know whether it was snowing in Japan. (Which is another questionable assumption: Would every Japanese currently in this country know whether it is snowing in Japan now?)

 If I have to do this to save my life, I'll bet that it's snowing in Japan right now. (But that's beside the point.)
[Image taken from here]

In any case, why does everybody think I'm Japanese? (see this post) And I'm pretty sure I've told him before that I'm not Japanese. Annoying... But I decided to be nice. So I told him very matter-of-factly, with a very straight face, that I don't know if it's snowing in Japan. Which is at least the truth, if nothing else. He seemed a little taken aback by the matter-of-factness of my delivery. Nevertheless, not being somebody who is easily daunted by such matter-of-factness, he tried to pursue the same line of conversation further. He followed up with another question: "Now, where did that tsunami happen last year?"     

"Uh... Japan." I replied, still trying to maintain the matter-of-factness of my delivery.

"That was bad, wasn't it?" He pressed on.

"Yeah, it was bad." I replied. (What do you want me to say, my man? That it was the best thing since sliced bread? That it should have been a bigger tsunami, so that more Japanese would have died, so that there wouldn't be enough Japanese hanging around to pull off another Pearl Harbor? Now that would have been some conversation, no?)

In any case, seeing that he wasn't going to get much conversation out of me, he walked away. 

But maybe I'm reading too much into all this. Maybe he sincerely wanted to know whether it is snowing in Japan right this very moment, and maybe I struck him as some kind of global-weather-geek who would be able to satisfy his thirst for global weather knowledge. Maybe I should be nicer to people. Ah, well, now you know...


  1. No, he was making small talk. And assumptions. I was similarly less than enthusiastically social about talking to a woman at the hostel while I was working (read blogging) on my laptop. It is perhaps a bit odd to be more interested in an online community than the person in front of me. But there it is.

  2. Hello deborah, it may indeed be a little odd to be more interested in an online community than in "real" people. I suffer from this oddness too :-) But then again, wouldn't most "real" people be quite bored by the things I write about on this blog? I don't know; maybe I simply don't try hard enough to socialize.

    Glad to see that you learnt so much at David G's workshop :-)

  3. Some folks are just really lonely. maybe he felt you looked like a nice(Japanese, haha) chap and wanted to have some human connection. This I find more than not, folks just want to be heard sometimes, to feel as though they matter, especially if they're older and live alone, I live in Florida, I know from whence I speak:). I had an older man approach me while filling up my tank(yikes, I'll just stun him with my Ashtangi Ninja-ness), turns out he was a vet from WW2 and was British like my husband and was an amazing guy with very cool anecdotes. So maybe next time instead of activating the "shields up", you might be surprised at who you meet:)
    Alternatively, you could have asked him why he thinks you would know if it was snowing in Japan and see where it might have taken you:) Happy New Year Nobel!

  4. maybe he just wanted you to look it up in yahoo weather, since you had a computer. and weather is a safe topic of conversation with a stranger. but i agree, it's kind of a strange question.

  5. Thanks for sharing, JayaK. Happy New Year! Yeah, I suppose I pass as a nice, ahem, Japanese chap, probably because I am mild-mannered, and my default expression is usually something approaching a half-smile. To be quite honest, I sometimes think that that gives people the impression that I'm a doormat/pushover. But maybe I'm being oversensitive. Perhaps I'll try to engage the next time rather than default to my "shields up" response.

    So you live in the sunny state of Florida? I used to live in Gainesville (I went to grad school at the U of F).

  6. Yes, Arturo, I do suppose that wanting me to look up the weather on yahoo could be a possibility. Maybe he is planning a trip to Japan soon? :-)

  7. I have not had the pleasure of going into Gainesville proper, only to Alachua for an Ayurvedic retreat:) I want to go again and visit the Hare Krishna community. I live in Melbourne or Mel-Boring as we so lovingly call it:) The upside is that I live 15 min from the beach and only 45 min from Orlando. Great Shala in Orlando and ahem, shopping:) Actually, David Williams is coming here, yes to Melboring, next Thursday for a 5 day workshop....he's the bee's knees:)

  8. Interesting, JayaK. Is Melbourne near Daytona Beach? I can't recall exactly where it is now...

    I went to David Williams' workshop at Sanctuary Yoga in Gainesville back in 2008 (actually, I used to teach at Sanctuary too). The favorite part of the workshop was when he told us the full story of how he got into yoga as a college kid in North Carolina, and how he ended up meeting Manju in Pondicherry, etc. The rest, as you probably know, is history. It's just great, hearing it from the man himself :-)

  9. yeah, he is a trip and a half:) Melbourne is south of Daytona by about 45 min, straight shot down from I95 to be exact.
    I do look forward to studying with his ex-wife Nancy Gilgoff in Hawaii sometime, she was the first western female student of Guruji's:) It's on my "To Do" list as well as David Garrigues in Philly and we have Kino coming to Orlando in Feb!
    As far as going to Mysore....(loved the post btw)I have a family and while I can get away for maybe a week, at this time Mother India is a bit farther down on the "To Do" list, that being said, ya never know what surprises and blessings are in store!:)

  10. Actually, I went to Nancy Gilgoff's studio on Maui (House of Yoga and Zen) a couple of times in summer 2007, when I was doing an asana intensive there with Eddie Modestini and Nicki Doane (they rock, btw). Both times, however, Nancy was away, teaching a workshop somewhere in Europe, so I never got to study with her.

    I hope to study with David G someday soon as well. From what I have read and seen of him online, he has a powerful teaching style and presence.

    I hope we both make it to Mysore someday (soon?).