Monday, October 8, 2007


My internet service has finally been turned on. The process was fairly complicated and, of course, there were many forms. This time, the situation with the forms became truly absurd. I had been calling the company on a regular basis, so I knew when the modem was set to arrive and when they were scheduled to come over and actually make the connection. Nevertheless, two days before they came, I received four forms in the mail. I can now make out enough Kanji that I could tell more or less what most of them where about. One was to set the appointment for them to come check the connection, which I rightly assumed we had already covered over the phone. Another was to set up automatic deductions from my bank account and a third - which requires my name and address not once, not twice, but three times - was to combine the bills for my keitai and my internet service. The fourth was mysterious to me.

Despite the fact that I could basically tell what they were about, on each of the forms there were check boxes that appeared to be important and which I did not understand. I called the company to discuss these matters, but the English speaking staff told me they did not have access to such details and they would have to transfer me to the appropriate department. I was then connected to an interpreter with an Indian accent to whom I described the situation in terms such as, "Well there's a yellow form and it's about payment methods and there's a section for personal information, one for bank information, credit card information and so forth. I understand all this but below there are a number of boxes and a large red arrow that points at them so they seem to be important. I can't read the Kanji but for example near one there's the Kanji for to enter and some that I don't know and then the one for to come and so on." The interpreter would then talk to someone in Japanese who sounded like a woman to me but whom he always referred to as "The Man in Charge."

The Man in Charge would then ask various questions about the color of the form, the boxes and such and would then look to see if he had the same form. This went on endlessly as he checked various forms. Twice The Man in Charge put us on hold while the translator and I tried to have a conversation over the obnoxiously loud musac. I asked him if he could turn it off, but he said it was out of his control. During the second musac session, he kindly offered to call me back once they thought they had the right form. About ten minutes later they called back. I imagined that for the duration The Man in Charge had been shuffling through great stacks of forms - all different but all equally intricate - which they were preparing to send out to their customers. Eventually, they decided that the didn't have the same forms that I had received and that the thing to do would be to send me the new forms, which they did have. That way, if I called back with more questions, they could help me.

Here are some of the view from my new apartment. My balcony faces east and a small street runs between my building and a construction site. To the south of the construction site is a small school. In the photo to the left you can see the school and, south of that, the part of Osaka called Uehommachi (上本町).

In the photo below, you see the view to the east of my apartment. The large building on the left is one of the major hospitals, which is in the process of expanding into the lot directly below my balcony. In the backgroundm you can see a forested area, which is some sort of sacred ground. Ken assured me that it's protected and that I wont have to worry about any construction on that land during my stay in Japan. If the new hospital building is sufficiently large, however, I won't be able to see it anyway.

No comments: