A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Keeping House

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 17, 2008

A came over for dinner last night, toting his own delivery menu. He knows me well enough not to trust my food preferences – or, as I prefer to think of it, he sticks his nose up at tabbouleh for dinner.

In any case, we had a very enjoyable dinner (Casper & Gambini’s) while A dissected the 101 ways in which my apartment could be made more livable.

First of all, A told me firmly, you need to get a sobiya.

Um, I disagree. I’m fond of the Levantine heritage and all, but I draw the line at the kerosene bomb-waiting-to-happen that heats older houses here and in Syria. But I did take his suggestions about sofas and hanging things on my walls “to make it look less like an insane asylum” seriously :).

As I did the dishes after dinner (okay, “did” the “dishes” in the sense of gathering the takeout containers and putting them in a trash bag), A rummaged around my salon.

I love visiting your apartment, he said happily. Its perfectly tidy, and yet God only knows what I will find.

Well. I admit that the logic behind my storing my band-aid collection next to an antique radio is not immediately apparent, but it is logical. I left them there while unpacking from a trip in November, and I fear that if I move them (to, say, the bathroom, or my medicine drawer) I will forget where I’ve moved them to.

And perhaps my “to be tailored” pile should be located somewhere other than the back of the rocking chair.

And it might be said that adults over thirty should not store their spare linens in the kitchen – but I have so much kitchen cupboard space, and so few pots and pans.

But the mystery of all these storage decisions paled next to the inflatable paper balls that Sporty Diamond gave me as a stocking stuffer at Christmas.

We and the Abu Owlfishes used to have a hoot of a time playing with them when we were younger – they’re an Asian novelty, and great fun. Whenever they deflate too much, just blow into them and … they puff right back up. (If you’re in Seattle, you can get them at Uwajimaya – a total shopping delight in itself!)

The one that A found is a more decorated version of the striped balls we used to play with as children, but it certainly is novel – a little red octopus with big eyes.


And A seems to have had as much fun with it as we used to – he set it on the rocking chair, right where my tailoring pile usually goes :).


Posted in Americans, Beirut, friends, home, Japan | 2 Comments »

teaching the commoners: adventures in mis-translation

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on June 25, 2007

Well, I hope this is a mis-translation. I came across this intriguing little article today:

Japanese NGO to open ‘terakoya’ school for Iraqi kids in Syria 

The Japanese nongovernmental organization Peace On is planning to open a small private school for children of Iraqi refugees in Syria, modeled after the ”terakoya” temple schools in Japan’s Edo period that taught reading and writing to children of commoners. The Tokyo-based group has found that support for refugees in the area of education is poor compared with food, housing and medical care, its leader Yasuyuki Aizawa said.

On the one hand, I appreciate Peace On’s commitment to drawing upon Japan’s rich historical traditions. On the other hand, the Edo period (1603-1867) was a long time ago. Surely Syria’s Iraqis – commoners or no – would like their children to be educated in a manner that will allow them to navigate the difficult world that they may face.

Posted in childhood, education, Iraq, Japan, Syria, teaching, time, words | Leave a Comment »