Monday, September 22, 2008

Greetings from Osaka. I walked out of the neverending Namba train and subway station this afternoon and it was happening again. I couldn't tell what it was, but there was something strange about the road, it seemed backwards. Finally, I realized that Japan is another place where cars drive on the left. There aren't that many places in the world where you drive on the left-hand side, but I seem to have been to all of them: Pakistan, India, Barbados, Hong Kong and now Japan. I was tired enough that the switch baffled me for some reason. I kept walking next to the cars, but it seemed impossible to get into one of the many waiting taxis for reasons I couldn't explain to myself at the time. It was like trying to walk up on a downward escalator.

Osaka is a very nice city. Everyone is very fashionable, at least in this fashionable part of the city, and also rich, at least in this rich part of the city, and in general it looks like a richer, shinier version of Seoul, which is just a 90-minute flight away. The people I've met so far seem to speak a fair bit of English, but they all insist on speaking to me in rapid Japanese until I smile sheepishly, including the old woman at the train station who carried on a lengthy one-way conversation about her job, my manners, or both. And then, when I use what little Japanese I know, they continue to speak in English.

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