Talim

Posted on Saturday, September 23, 2017, under ,


This year typhoons in Kyoto are few and far between. Once they do arrive though, their force feels more severe and more lethal than in the previous years. Or so it seems. Of course my personal perception could be false. I can therefore only give some weight to my apprehensions by presenting a small, yet telling, inventory of things broken, displaced or damaged in and around the house.   

The last typhoon from a couple of weeks ago (Sanvu, early September, wind speeds up to 150km/hour) managed to blow away a cover sheet off my scooter, detach an antenna from the rooftop, and even blow my letterbox nameplate out of its slot! Later I wondered about the final destination of these items. This being a suburban residential area they could have easily shown up at a neighbour’s doorstep. Just as plausibly, any of them could have reached and landed on Midoroga pond, situated a short walk to the northeast, then floated for a bit until they sank to its dark green bottom.

Today’s typhoon, which goes under the global name of Talim (interestingly, the vast majority of Japanese are not aware of this term, here they simply give typhoons numbers in chronological order) is, once again, accompanied by extremely violent wind gusts (measured at 175km/hr). Metal shutters are rattling, various doors inside the house shaking and grumbling as though lost souls are desperately trying to break though. When I step outside to inspect the situation in the backyard, I find a laundry pole has been kicked from its prop to a lower one, as if demoted to a lower rank. I find a pair of slippers rearranged by wind to a sort of X-shape: Communist hammer & sickle springs to mind. It makes me think how easily we get used to objects sitting in their spots, as if their peculiar locations were set in stone. How easily we forget that furniture can actually be moved around! Let’s find a different niche for the floor lamp. Let’s move the desk to the middle of the room! Rearrange the order of forks and knives. Let’s refresh!

In the late afternoon I take a stroll before the rain arrives. Above Midoroga pond the clouds are fifty shades of grey indeed, moving along with amazing pace. My eye picks a smallish one and follows, trying to estimate its speed. I’d say, on a par with a light bomber aircraft. I notice that ducks and coots, normally to be seen sailing near the shore, are out of eyeshot. In place of them, as it were, is a sizeable piece of sod, a turf of high grass with a bunch of yellow wildflowers sprung on top. It looks the tiniest island in the world. Besides, it is actually drifting! At first, a little to the east. A short pause. Then back, to the west. Very slowly. A pause. Then off again, northwards. A minor spectacle!

All day long I have not spoken to a single person, bar a man on the motor scooter. He trundles into a narrow side street as I walk from the opposite direction. The scooterist stops, looks at his mobile phone then checks whatever is on the screen against the buildings in front of him. Lost. I walk up and ask if he needs help. He is short-bearded, lean, in his fifties. A white helmet and black-rimmed glasses, are they supposed to add a touch of intellect? ‘Have you seen this house before?’ he asks with a thick French accent (isn’t French accent always thick?), showing me the photo. I reply in the negative, add he could possibly try the street along the pond. Polite smiles on both sides, and good luck to him. I recall the bloke a couple of hours later when the storm turns crazy. Very unwise of him to be riding a moped in this weather. How does he get back home? Or does he? I worry a bit about him, my sole interlocutor today.

It is close to midnight as I am writing this. The wind and rain are slowly subsiding. I shall to bed soon, too dark and wet for any kind of inspection.


ps. The morning aftermath: in the garden a terracotta pot containing a large heavy shrub overturned; rubbish bins overturned; broken-off tree branches in the street; piles upon piles of leaves everywhere (where did I put that broom again?); crisp air and a spotless sky. I can live with that.


September, 2017



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