(Short note: It’s my sis’ birthday today. Happy birthday sis! Hope you succeed in everything you do, and become what our late father envisioned you to be. Amiin! This funny tru story is your birthday present. Don’t ask for anything else!)
In the summer of 2005, my brother came to visit me in Japan. It was a pleasant moment, and we had fun touring Japan. But one of the most memorable moments happened in the city where I am currently studying in, which is Sendai (don’t worry if you don’t know where it is, I myself didn’t know it before I came here!)
My brother and I were walking along in downtown. I had my scooter with me, but since my brother was with me, I was walking with him while pushing the scooter (most students in Sendai ride scooter rather than normal motorbikes, contrary to Malaysia). He was taking pictures of everything he saw interesting or funny, from an advertisement about a restaurant which had two cute pigs as mascots,
to a traffic controller with an orange baton on his hand, who my brother said was a ‘blue-suited, unmasked Darth Vader’ with his ‘trusty orange light saber’.
By coincidence, we happen to come across a lady with two of her babies, one of them she was holding in her hands, and the other one was walking beside her, holding her hand and eating a nuggets-on-a-stick.
Since both of the children are ultra-cute (most Japanese babies are),
we came to the same conclusion that we must take their picture! So it is decided, since I can speak better Japanese, that I will approach the mother and ask her if we can take her two babies’ picture.
So, without hesitation, I approached the mother, with a smiling face and trying to be as cute as the babies are myself, asked her nicely. To my surprise, not only did she refuse, but she gave me a really angry look, shook her head vigorously, while walking off hurriedly.
That incident shocked me. Never have I experienced such a shocking behavior from a Japanese, let alone a Japanese woman. How rude! She could have just told me “Sorry, but you can’t”. It really bothered me for a while, having received that kind of treatment from a Japanese, whom up til now have been very cooperative anywhere I go.
What did I do wrong? Why did she became angry? Was is something I said? Oh, wait a minute…it WAS something I said!
It turns out that, rather than saying “Can we take your children’s picture?” in Japanese (which is “Kodomo no shashin wo tottemo iidesuka?“), I accidentally omitted the word ‘picture’ (shashin), and ended up saying
“Your children are cute. Can we take your children?” (“Kodomo-chan ga kawaii desune. Kodomo wo tottemo iidesuka“)!!!
How about that! Imagine a stranger asking you with a smiling face, with a scooter in hand, the permission to take your children, as if to dash off as soon as he gets your children! With that question (“Boleh kami ambil anak awak?”), even in Malaysia or anywhere else, NOBODY will allow it!
My brother and I laughed out hard at myself. How silly! And to think that I was suppose to be the better Japanese speaker. Might as well showed her our camera, point at her children ans ask, “OK?”. Luckily she didn’t call the police, complaining about a new-style of kidnapping among the foreigners or something. Whew!