Steve Tainton

The long weekend

All work and no play make Matt a real salaryman

All work and no play make Matt a real salaryman. However, in Japan all salarymen benefit from the frequent national holidays. Typically these holidays are on a Monday providing all us suffering salarymen with three days of 'rest'. In November there are two national holidays. Incidentally the significance of the holidays is usually trivial and often they cannot be readily named by the average working stiff.

This is my three day weekend in review.

Friday night: After a late meeting I leave the office just shy of nine. After two trains I get home around ten-thirty. A couple of drinks down the gullet and it's bedtime.

Saturday: I am up before eight-thirty to make sure the recycling (Saturday is the day to throw out bottles and cans - I manage a fair collection by week's end) goes out. It is also a chance to get some quiet time before the wife wakes up. When she does wake up I am on breakfast duty. Then it is time to clean the apartment. This should be an easy task given the relatively small size. But like any good Japanese person, I have tons of crap in the apartment and crap attracts lots of dust and needs to be moved during cleaning. Nexy it is time to go to the supermarket where an argument will ensue about what we want for lunch. My wife is on lunch duty so we are eating Thai. Later in the day we are getting ready to go out - a time consuming task for at least one of us. Saturday night and we are at a bar run by a Thai friend. My wife has managed more Thai friends in two years than I have managed friends of any nationality. The Japanese residing Thais tend to be quite interconnected. I suppose this is a good thing given that papaya is not sold in the average supermarket. I call this a somtam-network.

Sunday: We are sleeping in - read slightly hungover. After we get up I am again on breakfast duty. Then we fight over who gets to use the computer. I lose. Next is shopping. We need to go one station over to the imported food shop to get Naam Plaa and spicy Thai ketchup. If it seems my weekends revolve around the procurement of Thai food, that's because they do! Later in the evening we watch a Thai movie I have downloaded (legally of course) from the internet.

Monday: I get out of bed around 8 again giving me just the time to type of few lines for my Ajarn submission - notice I was unable to accomplish this in the first two days. The wife is up again and we are fighting over the computer. She wants to get on her Hi-5 social networking site, whereas I am after my Facebook updates. Later in the day we are back to the supermarket again. Like most Japanese people, food shopping is a daily chore. We are limited to the amount of food we can buy because we don't have a car or large refrigerator. My wife is cooking again. I can't complain. It's great to have a personal Thai cook. And this will probably be the last good meal I have until the following weekend.

The three day weekends are nice and yet living in the suburbs of Tokyo offers little diversion beyond shopping. Hopefully all my effort during the weekdays will eventually payoff in enough of a payoff to escape the urban working grind, but for now I have no choice but to head straight into the vortex of the salaryman lifestyle.


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