Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We weathered Typhoon Guchol...

As a veteran of many a conversation school I'm used to working through typhoons.  Lumbering along beside my bike at 9pm, the streets largely deserted, winds lashing and rain flowing horizontally, turning my umbrella inside-out, soaking me, ruining my shoes.  That's the conversation school way.

Not so with Japanese high schools.  The management called all the teachers to the main office and told us to put the kids on the buses and clear out.  Girls cheered in the hallways as everyone scrambled to evacuate.  There were long lines of students huddled under umbrellas as bus after bus rolled up and loaded them up and shipped them off.  I left about a quarter to three, bought some food and something to drink and spent a dark, noisy night at my apartment with no electricity.  The medical students in the next building threw themselves an impromptu typhoon party on the landing outside and trees danced and unknown things banged and rattled.

In my old town of Toyohashi over 123,000 people had to evacuate because the river levels surged ahead of the typhoon's approach and from the rainfall.  The typhoon came right through here, a mighty guest making its presence known, overturning the household routine.  A great big jerk of a guest, unwanted and barely tolerated.

I watched it for a while until it started to bore me.  The sky had a dark gray luminosity like the fading glow-in-the-dark hands on a bedside clock but I could see the now useless electrical tower looming over our apartment complex like something out of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds after the simple cold virus killed all the Martians.  I fell asleep at some point only to wake up around 2am to a strange calm.  All was quiet.  I stumbled to my window and saw stars with ragged clouds just above the building-rimmed horizon.

The power came on around 7am this morning, and everything returned to whatever it is that passes for normal around here.  A small tree lost a measure of its height, the leafy broken trunk blocking the small parking lot across from my building.  More green leaves, startling against the concrete, choked the gutters along the streets. But once I left the neighborhood and reached the road that runs past the school where I work there were the usual uniformed students hauling ass up and down the hill, threatening pedestrians with injury and death.  Just another day!

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