Thursday, November 27, 2008

My First Homestay Experience

The opportunity to join a homestay program came just at the right time. As it was only open for five people from my college, we had to draw lots because eight of us applied for it. I got lucky to be picked and I was joined by three other Malaysians and one Mongolian to Mitsuke city. After the ice-breaking and introduction session, each of us followed our respective family back to their home. I was not alone because I shared a foster dad with Yan Kuang.
So, guess who we got as our foster dad?
Mr Suzuki Akira, the chairman of the association.
We were served with a cup of green tea and a piece of marshmallow thingy when we reached his house.
First thing he did to us was to interview us. Really, I am not bluffing you. He took out a pen and paper, and started asking about our family background, how many siblings we have, are we still single or married and do we have any children. Yes, you guess it correctly. I was only making up the last two question.
We continued chatting and the topic changed from about-ourself to about-our-country. So, he took a map book and flipped to the South East Asia page and we told him where our hometown is located. At first, he pointed to the forest region in Sarawak and asked me if I come from that area. Haha, my dad can be really funny also. He might as well point to the middle of the South China Sea and pick one tiny island and ask me if I originated from that island.
Making a point to Mr Suzuki about our country.
His factory, which is just opposite his house.
Apparently, he owns a company that deals with recycling industry. His company will collect the middle hard part of all kinds of tape from various source within the prefecture and bring them back to the factory. At the factory, they will process those parts and reuse them when making new tapes. I am not very sure of the details, but that was the brief explanation of what his company does. He keep on talking for hours that there were times I almost fell asleep, but I tried my best not to doze off because that is just not the right thing to do as a guest.
We were supposed to have a dinner with his son and daughter-in-law with their two children later that night. Soon enough, they arrived and we saw his two little grand-daughters, Nana and Momo. Later from our conversation with his son, we were told that he was an ex-classmate with my current Maths lecturer in my college. The world just doesn't get any smaller than this, does it?
The two of us with Mr Suzuki's son.
His little granddaughter, Nana.
Just when we were going to start our dinner, came an emergency phone call. Apparently, Mr Suzuki's mum had fallen ill for sudden and was rushed to the hospital. We later found out that the blood vessel in her brain had burst and need an operation immediately. Sound so much like a drama, isn't it? So, he had to rush to the hospital to see his mum and of course he felt bad about it because we were just going to have a dinner together.
The life of his mum certainly comes first and we told him it's perfectly alright and we understood the situation. Despite so, he even spared a couple of minutes to kampai-ed before he left for the hospital with his wife.
One picture together before he left.
So, we were left to have our dinner with his son and his family. From their face, I know they were worried for their grandmum as well, but they had a guest there so they just couldn't just leave us there by ourselves. At the same time, we also felt bad because our presence was like stopping them from going to see their grandmum. Anyway, we put that away for a while and started our dinner.
I don't think my mum will kill me if she sees me drinking lol.
Nana and me just couldn't wait for the soup to boil.
Talking to the little girl while we waited for the soup.
At last, she began to talk to me because she was very shy at first.

It was hard to get the girl smile.

I have to say I am not really into drinking, and I never get myself drunk even once. Although I don't drink much, but my alcohol tolerance level is quite good I guess. At least my face still stayed the same after two cans of beer.
Different case for Yan Kuang after he finished his one can lol.
After our dinner, we rested in the living hall while watching the television and continued our conversation with his son. However, I spent more time playing around with the kids.
The two of them during the dinner.
I wonder why she made this funny expression.
Trying to figure out what are the shapes of chocolates inside the packet was.

There was one section of the house where there is this hole on the ceiling and I carried them as high as I could and they enjoyed it.

Mr Suzuki and his wife came back later that night and told us his mum is in a stable condition, much to our relieve. We continued chatting and he told us about his vacation experiences to various places like Phuket and Saipan. He is interested in snorkeling and most of the places he went were mainly to snorkel. From the pictures he showed us, we found out that he is just a typical older Japanese generation who spend much of their time travelling around. By the way, he loves durian a lot, much to my surprise.
The next morning, he knocked our door at eight sharp to have our breakfast. During this time, he told us that he had to go to the hospital again because the condition of his mum is not getting any better and they weren't even sure if she could last until noon. Before that, we have our breakfast first and that was when my worst fear came. One big piece of natto was served with a raw egg. Others were okay to me, but not natto. The last and only time I had natto was when I first came to Japan at my dormitory canteen and that was like almost two years ago. Nevertheless, I managed to finished the whole bowl.

Japanese breakfast is so colourful.
This is Mrs Suzuki after our late supper on the first night, which consisted of onigiri, rice crackers and soft drinks.
I was hoping my experience would be much better than what I had experienced during that two short days, as it didn't turn out like what I had expected. Nevertheless, what happened was something nobody had predicted and I truly understand it. I am also impressed with the way both of them handle the situation because they still remained calm as ever although they know that their mum is in critical condition. The most we could do is to pray that his mum will get well and recover quickly.
Just for the record, their mum is already 95-year-old.
Just before we left, we had another picture at his garden.
We didn't leave empty handed because he gave each of us a box of rice biscuit. A couple of days later, he sent me a CD containing the pictures taken throughout our stay there, with a short message that says, "Sorry for what that had happened, but I wish to meet you guys again soon."
The souvenir and the CD he sent to me.
By that time, I hope we would get the chance to meet his mum as well.


mg said...

first!!! haha.. so nice.. but eating raw egg? yucks..

ur face also got abit red.. and that pic carrying that girl, u looked like a father. haha =P

Endoru said...

Now I realized you stopped watermarking your pics. :D Anyway, the two girls seem to like you two very much. ;)

Kae Vin said...

Hope your foster granny get well soon.

What's natto btw?

2 cans of beer is nothing la. U should start drinking. :P

syaza said...

hidup lagi x pas abeskan natto??
pas makan natto jgn duduk dekat ngn ak! jgn cuba nak cakap pun!

Anonymous said...

yup , u are a father , im ur long lost son !!!!!!! come find me !!!

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
this is not lol

raw eggs with hot rice is just too good to resist. but it only applies to the sticky, fat and short japanese rice. never tried it with malaysian rice yet though.

that is considered not bad since i am not a drinker ;)

i am going to be knk's dad in the future, no? =P

calvin said...

@ endoru:
there is a story behind that actually. just a few days before i went back for my summer holidays, my laptop gave me some problems and i couldn't use my laptop to edit my pictures. and from then onwards, i stopped from watermarking my pictures :)

yes, they did. however, they were really shy when they first saw me and kept on hiding behind their parents when i called them over >.<

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
i hope he will call us again some time in the future :)

what's natto? i didn't put the link there for nothing you know. anyway,

"nattō (なっとう or 納豆,) is a traditional japanese food made from fermented soybeans, popular especially for breakfast. (taken from wikipedia)

almost every japanese likes natto, but it's the opposite for the foreigners like us. i think it's because the smell and the texture. my senior even said that natto smell like shoes one time ago lol. just imagine eating something sticky that stinks. yuckss...

my sixth sense tells me that you cannot drink much, am i right? =P

calvin said...

@ syaza:
you won't see this post if i'm dead already, right? now i know what should i give you as a present for your next birthday =P

tanoshimini ne ;)

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
and who is you mum a.k.a my wife then? let us meet up, want?

Anonymous said...

have u eaten dorayaki?

Anonymous said...

hey ,do they have nasi lemak there?

calvin said...

@ anonymous:
as much as i could remember, nope i haven't =(

calvin said...

@ creamo:
you must be kidding. you can only get nasi lemak either by cooking it yourself, or visit those malaysian restaurants which is like an endangred species here and only available in big cities like tokyo =\

=chuan guan= said...

da nana is so so so so so so so so so cuteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

calvin said...

@ =chuan guan=:
yup, she was really cute =)

Anonymous said...

U seems to enjoy playing with those girls..miss your sis eh?
anyway what is that natto made of?and the raw egg is just so its super huge looking...ewww
Your foster parents looks nice.
Their house and garden looks nice too

calvin said...

@ sj:
not really, but i love to have kids to play with, as long as they don't give me problems, like crying for no reasons xD

"nattō (なっとう or 納豆,) is a traditional japanese food made from fermented soybeans, popular especially for breakfast. (taken from wikipedia)

trust me, the raw eggs with hot rice is really good. i thought it was gross at first too, but since then, i don't have any problems having them for breakfast.

yea, both of my foster parents and their family members were friendly, plus the cute kids as well =)