August 14, 2007

Post Office Incident

Yesterday was a very hot sunny day here in Tokyo. I left for Post Office at 12:00 hrs to pay the water bill. By the time I reached there, I was almost tired because of heat. Those automated doors welcomed me… I went inside and saw many people seated. They looked to be waiting. I did not know what to do.
I went to a counter and asked a person working there-"Excuse me; I need to pay the bills…what should I do".
He told me something in Japanese which I did not understand. By looking at my blank face he repeated it once again but I think I must have maintained the blankness on my face as it is, he went aside and brought a slip with a number. Then I realized I am in a queue! I sat waiting just like all others. The office was very cool because of AC. I sat relaxing.

A lady appeared before me with a form. She gave me the form but everything was written in Japanese language. By looking at the big question mark on my face, she explained me that I should fill my name and 'terehone' number (most of the Japanese people pronounce ‘telephone’ as ‘terehone’ and ‘thank you’ as ‘sank you’). As directed I filled name, address and ‘terehone’ number. As my turn came, I paid the bill without hassle.

Then I faced the real problem of conversation. I needed air mail stamps to write to my brother who is in India. I asked the lady who took my bill to give me air mail stamp. I could make out that she did not understand what I said and she directed me to the other counter. I went there. A man aged about 45 years was sitting. He smiled at me and I could see his silver filled teeth greeting me pleasantly. I asked him about the air mail stamps. He requested me to repeat as he too could not make out what I was telling. I repeated thrice but he could not understand. Then he gave me a piece of paper and pen to write it down. I wrote – ‘I need to write letters to India. So I need air mail stamps’. He took the paper inside. I thought he might have taken it to the person who knows English and I had all hopes to get the stamps. To all my surprise, he came out with a notebook in his hand. He wrote a ‘terehone’ number on the piece of paper on which I had given him the written thing and gave it to me explaining something in Japanese. He repeated twice but I could not understand what I should do with that number. By looking at my face…he stared telling ‘Sorry’. I was in trouble and even he was. I was sweating even in that cool place. I decided to leave without stamps and said ‘Thank you’. Again he pleasantly smiled at me but I felt the silver in his teeth is mocking at me! That piece of paper with the ‘terehone’ number he gave me is sleeping nicely in my bag hardly bothering about me!

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