Listening In

Monday, November 13, 2006

Elephants overhead!

31st October 2006

So thin walls are, as you have learned in the fountain of cross-cultural education that is this blog, an ancient Japanese tradition.

And, no doubt in his zeal to maintain old folkways, the owner of my dormitory has taken this tradition in a new direction: thin ceilings.

When the people living upstairs walk about in their flat, I know. If you gave me a very long toothpick, I could probably poke them through the heel while they did it because every time their heels land on their floor, a 'thhhuuddd' reverberates through my ceiling and walls. Sometimes, my ceiling light shakes.

It wouldn't be so much of a problem if they shuffled rather than walked but I can't very well knock on their door and say, 'Hi, I'm from downstairs. Elephants are lovely animals but I'd rather not live under them so would you mind shuffling instead of walking?'

I can't say that, right? Right?

Just checking.

But the elephants upstairs aren't any old elephants; they're elephants in training for the World Furniture Rearranging Championships. And I have a feeling that the one living right above me is going to do really well because it trains even past midnight.

I can hear the television announcer now: 'And to those of you who've just joined us, let me welcome you to the World Furniture Rearranging Championships, held this year at the headquarters of Ikea.

'Things are really hotting up because we're down to just two contestants - Heelsofsteel, the only elephant ever to make it to the finals of this competition, and Whatyoudoaftergoinga-Vikingisbanned, a Swede who's obviously got the home ground advantage.

'Now, before the break, we saw Whatyoudoaftergoinga-Vikingisbanned rearrange a wardrobe, a leather armchair and a bed with a cast-iron headboard in a very demanding arena. The indoor koi pond gave him a bit of trouble - the bed got stuck and the bolster rolled off, stunning a koi - but he still managed to finish with a respectable time of 1 minute 48.3 seconds. He might have done better if he hadn't tried to play the guitar at the same time but that's all in the past.

'So - will Heelsofsteel manage to beat that time? We'll have the answer soon enough - I can see it at the starting line, a judge has raised the flag's off!

'A good start there and it's clearly decided to go with the wardrobe first, unlike Whatyoudoaftergoinga-Vikingisbanned, who went with the bed.

'Some difficult manoeuvres there but with a bit of nice swivelling action, the wardrobe place! The armchair shouldn't give it any trouble after that... Round the conversation pit, past the ornamental fireplace and in it goes, into the designated spot under the reading lamp.

'It's left the trickiest bit - the bed - for last. Will its gamble pay off? Off it goes and, oops, the bed's nicked a bookcase - the judges are bound to take points off for that but it's recovered nicely and is just charging ahead, even over the tricky tatami stretch. On to the split-level flooring - oof, careful with that leg - and up the bed goes on the dais. A quick repositioning and the bed is under the ceiling mirror! The time? 1 minute 1.3 seconds! Even with the penalties for knocking into that bookcase, Heelsofsteel is well in the lead and the winner of this year's World Furniture Rearranging Championships!

'What a day this is - the day an elephant has won this competition for the very first time. I don't mind telling you, ladies and gentlemen, that I can feel a tear coming to my eye...'

And so on.


How on earth did I end up saying all that?

Oh yeah. Cross-cultural education, fountain of.

And with a bit of a nature programme and sports commentary thrown in as a service to my readers. Or as they say in Japan, 'saabisu'.

So think of this post as a jumbo-sized saabisu.



Anonymous said...

heh. Sounds like great late night tv.

Unlike Singapore where they knew what people were in for. Our upstairs neighbour is learning the drums, but the ceiling seems up to the task. But ironically Singaporeans are shuffler. The only quiet thing about them is their feet.

What did the Ikea furniture say to the alien?

"We come in pieces!'


onehandwaving said...

Ikea joke - I like.

xiaocangshu said...

The commentary is one hilarious read!