A short extract of a post that features in my book about the Great East Japan Earthquake, The Teas That Bind:
All manner of outlandish vocabulary has come up in lessons over the last couple of weeks, at times straining the interpretive skills of a new teacher. We were talking about buildings and the technology that saves them from quakes. There was an awful lot of hand movement going on as the student attempted to demonstrate and I wracked my tired brain for the right word.
Eventually we managed to make it to ‘shock absorbers’. I mentioned my belief that Japanese innovation in this area and strict adherence to building codes must have saved a lot of lives, as well as the buildings themselves. It seems I am not the only one who thinks so. You only have to witness these Tokyo skyscrapers swaying like tall grass in a breeze to realise how lucky we were:
(Although I did hear from students with offices located on high that the resulting queasiness lasted for ages!)
Attempting to further clarify ‘shock absorbers’ I mentioned cars. They have the same thing, I told him, it is the same word that stops you feeling all the bumps in the road. He looked back at me, with a thoughtful expression and I wondered if he had understood, maybe I hadn’t explained it well enough. As I was trying to think of other ways, he spoke.
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