As for the year that went by, it was one involving lots of driving for me, in particular, ferrying kids to school and other activities so as to avoid public transportation. When I’m in my car, sometimes I have four women in my life. It’s not that I converted to the religion that allows you to have up to four wives. Conversion, as we all recently found out, is not good. I’m even scared of converting rupees to dollar nowadays. Or to try and convert distance when talking to Amreekan friends.
Me: “I drove about 70kms today going to Chiba.”
Friend: “70kms? How much is that in miles?”
Me: “Hmm…err… Po mi###.”
And the conversation ends just like that.
Talking of conversion, I sometimes think of converting to the ancient religion of my mom, given the pressure to conform to society. However, with conversion getting banned here and there, I am having second thoughts. If at all I go down that path, (and this is something I have said before) I want to join the upper-est caste available. The crème de la crème of castes, whichever that is. I am not interested in joining some run-of-the-mill upper caste. I want to know who is at the apex of the pile and I want to join them. (Reminder to self: Google that.)
Getting back to the four women I sometimes find myself with in my car:
One is my legally wedded wife of 22 years (who has, in fact, been with me for a quarter of a century now, living in sin for three of those years). She is the quietest one in the car. Never says a word regarding my driving skills, or lack thereof.
The second one is the lady inside the car’s in-built navigation system, who spews inanities such as the date and what special day is that day when I start the car for the first time, as in “Today is December 31, 2021 – World No Conversion Day,” or something like that. She also tells me when I cross prefectural borders. “You have entered Kanagawa Prefecture.” I nod, knowing she’s harmless.
The third woman in my car is the Google Navigation lady. I use the Google app because the in-built navigation is not updated real time and you have to shell out quite a bit every few months to keep it up-to-date. So, I use Google maps, which has its drawbacks. There are times I suspect the Google map lady has homicidal tendencies and I fear that one day she is going to drive me into some lake, something my cousin recently experienced with his navi lady in Malaysia. (I did end up in a ditch once, due partly to the Google map lady.)
The fourth is the youngest and the one that is quite annoying. She is the lady in my drive recorder. Like the in-built navi lady, she also does small talk when I start up the car, but is quite condescending. “You’ve been driving quite skilfully of late. Let’s aim to become even better.” I keep quiet. Then she starts giving me driving tips – “Mind your driving lane,” or “Maintain distance with the car in front.” A few days ago, she said, “You’re speeding above 80”. I might have barely touched 120 km/hr. I thought I would fool her and did a mental conversion to miles and almost blurted out “it’s only about 75, milady” but then I remembered the anti-conversion rule in the nick of time and checked myself. Whew! Narrow escape.
Anyway, things are going smooth, or as smooth as they can be under the circumstances. The mallus in my neighbourhood had an Xmas/New Year party yesterday (Dec 30) after missing 2021. As usual, the menu included, among other items, the national dish of porotta/beef and sufficient fluids (also known as jeeva jalam) to wash the food down. Talk of beef may be crime for some, but we mallus, as a species, revere beef. So, this was prepared religiously by a group of volunteers overnight spending three to four hours. The volunteers were also provided with ample fluid support, which made the task easier. Would we be able to hold a similar get-together in the new year? That is the big question in front of us. The halls are open and available for parties as of now here in Japan, but the BGM is getting scarier with omicron slowly sneaking in. Let’s hope the music turns upbeat soon.
Wishing y’all a happy 2022.