A short extract of a post that features in my book about the Great East Japan Earthquake, The Teas That Bind:
All day long I hear people speaking a language that isn’t my own. I know I should be picking more of it up, like my peers I should be attending classes and using books and podcasts to brush up on my knowledge. I have been here for six months and am yet to get beyond the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ stage. It is typical English laziness to expect people to speak your language wherever you go. Not to mention a real shame to be missing out on all the possible interactions. Yet, I confess to sometimes liking the lack of having a clue. Enjoying the floating along in a river of sounds that I can neither decipher nor respond to, so do not have to tune into. I can bathe in them, lost in my own thoughts, without risk of overhearing something that might jolt me out of the reverie.
So I was walking out of the toilets in the shopping centre, heading back to work and musing on something and nothing, when a tiny old lady grabbed my arm and said something in rapid Japanese that I didn’t catch a word of. She had intruded so completely into my daydream that I wondered how much shock was etched across my face.