Saturday, April 14, 2012

No Talking Tuesday # 235

March 27th 2012

This Tuesday found me back in Kyoto staying in a youth hostel. I checked in Monday a few minutes before midnight and went straight to bed. In the morning I was in the common area eating a scant breakfast and drawing, when one of the other guests at the hostel began a conversation with me, and discovered that I didn't speak. He flipped through my sketchbook and then I left to go bike riding along the river.

When I came back later that night many of the guests were in the common area drinking tea and chatting. I took my place among them and continued working on the same drawing of one of the hostel's house plants. It didn't take long before they realized I didn't speak. Interestingly, the guy who interacted with me that morning was also there and helped smooth the understanding of my muteness to the rest of the group.

I silently participating in the conversation, but mostly drawing for a number of hours. By the end of which everyone present had fully acclimated to my muteness. Midnight was rapidly approaching and I recognized I was in a very interesting unprecedented situation.

By that I mean, every time I've ever been in a social group setting on a Tuesday, someone who knew about my Tuesday experiment had always been present to explain my muteness to others. Otherwise meeting and communicating with new people on a Tuesday happens on a one on one basis.

But here I found myself with a group of people all of whom never met me before that Tuesday, with whom I communicated with for hours under the unquestioned belief that I was unable to speak. I realized that if I was to suddenly speak after midnight, it would create a really dramatic sensation.

As a soft rule, I prefer not to speak after midnight, but instead to wait until I wake up Wednesday morning. But the unique opportunity this provided was too tempting to pass up. I told myself next time a question was directed towards me in the conversation that didn't make sense to answer with a node or shake of the head that I would reply with the answer verbally.

A full twenty minutes passed after midnight before that qualification was met, when I was asked which of two possible transient verbs sounded more natural (to settle a debate between a Russian girl and a Polish girl), I responded verbally, and the Russian girl completely lost it. The look of shock on her face and the way she almost fell off her chair were fantastic. The polish girl was more slow to realize what was happening and watched the Russian girls reaction with confusion but then realized herself and looked at me with a slightly embarrassed smile.

The Russian girl was a flurry of questions afterwords, but I responded to all questions with "It's a long story that's not worth getting into now." To their frustration and my obvious delight.

The list:

san francisco
san fran
That's my famous grand uncle
makes it confusing
Farsi is what Iranian's speak
would you mind
posing for a portrait?
don't feel like you have to
i'll also eventually scan
it, and can send it
to you
and can you
write your name for me
ula knap?
is there a wireless
network/password here?
i want to onsen!
public bath
and i want to get fat
my main goal on this
trip is to pig out
on japanese food
does anyone here like to play chess?
so it's a little confusing:
you are white
i'm black
it's a popular russian
past time right?
how about piano?
is that still popular?
have you written
anything on guitar?
white always goes first

Friday, April 13, 2012

No Talking Tuesday # 234

March 20th 2012

Greetings from Japan!

This Tuesday found me traveling from Kyoto to Nagano with my Friend Kazz to stay with his parents in his family home.

He knew of my experiment for years but it wasn't until ten minutes before midnight Monday night that I realized that in all the years we've known each other, that we coincidentally never hung out on a Tuesday.

This made me a bit nervous, as experience has taught me that people can behave in unexpected ways to my experiment with their first exposure, at times becoming hostile, threatened, insecure, frustrated, insulted in ways that are impossible to predict. Add to that the pressures of traveling, navigating busy, confusing train stations, and seeing his parents, so I couldn't be sure things would go smoothly. Kazz took it all in stride and his parents were as lovely, sweet, endearing, and kind as I would have guessed knowing Kazz. It was a bit awkward of course, but all in all I think it went well, and the next day when I spoke they must have been relieved of any insanity they may have suspected me of.

More about my Nagano adventures when I return!