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Friday, February 17, 2006

Little Gifts

The first time we take the train with Cloudy, he puts his hammock up. I'm ashamed to admit it, but when he does this I think he's doing it for the camera. But, then something amazing happens. It starts out with a few brave young men, spurred on by drink and a desire to speak what little English they remember from school. They strike up a conversation. I nearly fall off my seat. This just doesn't happen in Japan. Absolute strangers are carrying on a conversation in the train. Not only that, the Japanese person instigated the conversation and the person he is talking to is a gaijin. You can't imagine how scandalous this is. How reckless. How utterly sublime.

During the months we spend with Cloudy, this happens again and again. He puts up the hammock, and the locals talk to him. It helps that he speaks a bit of Japanese. When no one talks to him, he kicks it off by recognizing the curious glances. Then he asks if they want to have a go in his hammock. I've seen only one man refuse, but he was really drunk. I suspect he was afraid of falling out.

Maybe it's because the Japanese are polite and think it would be rude to refuse. Cloudy says that when they go home they will tell their husband or wife or mother or father about him. But I think it's the opposite. I think they will hold this little gift in their hearts and keep it all for themselves. In future, They will search out the memory and use it for what purpose, I don't know. But it will be just for them.