Through Asian Eyes


“What is zat ?”  I hear my roommate call to me from the pantry.  I know exactly what he is talking about.  It’s a Tupperware container filled with a noodle casserole.  My tenants left it in the freezer.  I know it’s edible.  I used to be embarrassed by my picky eating habits. Then, I became a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Now, if it isn’t moving, I’ll at least taste it.

My roommate really isn’t so bad.  He’ll try  most things.  But of course, he likes slimy, rubbery textured stuff, & I go for the crispy.  We have our ‘cultural differences’.  You haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone eat soup with a fork. Guess that’s why the Japanese are so thin.

His secretary described him to me as quiet & I wondered if we are talking about the same guy.  He has no problem expressing an opinion.  When he could barely speak English, I had gone to pick him up, and I was describing the   unexpected roadblocks around Northwestern University, and I guess I was getting agitated.  He interrupted me and said, “You are about to start yelling in five minutes.”

What? I do believe I was, and I just burst out laughing.

When Kunihiro came to live with me, I could understand his English, and  tried to  learn more about his interests.  You learn a language faster when you want to speak about what interests you.  I learned he was interested in  space, science fiction, cars, and computers.  I also learned that he was very tolerant.

He told me that he found Americans, “…loud, rude, fat, and you spit when you speak.”  Guilty!

What really got him going was how I took care of my car... or didn’t.   I knew I had a leak somewhere, and he  told me because I had not taken care of it in a timely fashion, I destroyed the car.  He  made it clear to me that I  didn’t deserve to own a car.  He loves his car.  He makes sure his car is always in tip top shape.

I helped him buy his first car, which I now own.  He needed a car to get to work, so I took him to Carmax.  I told him, “”It’s a little more expensive, but they have a fixed price, It’s no haggle.  They also guarantee the car for 30 days.  They’ll also pro9bably give you credit. ”  Which they did.  He has since bought 2 more cars from Carmax (the 2nd car was stolen off our parking pad in the middle of the night. They  ultimately found the chassis. So, he had to buy  the 3rd car).

Kunihiro  used to ask me about ‘The God.”  I don’t know what to say, as I am agnostic.  I tried to explain it as good marketing—better marketing than the science community does.  He told me that it seemed to him that the  overly religious people did more sinning (cheating on spouses, sexually abusing children, lying, cheating) than the nonreligious do.  Hmm…he has a point—but the perception could be due to media reports.

He is generally very thrifty, but that could be because he’s a guy—and an engineer.  Or it could be just him.

Every day is an adventure to him.   Our thought process and actions are an endless topic of conversation.  He is  very amused by all the scams people get away with.  I just remind him that this is what we call a ‘free country’ and  if it’s not specifically illegal—it’s legal.

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