Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Where do you keep the FILMJÖLK around here?"

Having the Japanese mother, having lived in exile in Sweden now for almost 40 years (considerably longer than she has lived in Japan) can lead to some quite amusing and sometimes mildly embarrasing incidents.

Everytime she calls one of her Japanese friends, she starts the conversation with a loud "Hallå?" (the Swedish word for "Hello"/もしもし) before she starts talking in a language the person on the other end of the line actually can understand. Also, the other day, instead of saying "Camera" (カメラ) she said "photographic device" (写真器) in Japanese. But I guess I might be heading for the same fate the longer I stay here.

Also, the other day we went to the supermarket to do some shopping and during an unsupervised moment, she had approached one of the attendants to ask if they had anything like "Kefir", or if that was lacking, any other type of "Filmjölk" (basically a Swedish variant of yogurt) causing the attendant considerable confusion and distress until I could come in and disarm the situation, reminding mom that people outside Sweden doesn't have a clue what it is (no, mom is not demented or confused, but it seems like it has yet dawned on her that the products available here in Japan are a bit different from what she might be used to in Sweden).

As I was guiding her around the neighborhod of the Salaryman-Sunshine Fortress of Solitude, she was quite impressed with the area, how nice, clean and green it was. Then she also added with a frown "there are not many immigrants here either, are there?" to which I quickly replied "no thank God, there's not many people like me at all here, then it would turn into a ghetto real quick". I find the good 'ol fashioned racism of old people quite refreshing, particularly from someone who has spent so many years in Sweden as an immigrant.

...but I do miss the Filmjölk from home, no denying that... Being an immigrant is a hard life...


Chris said...

"I find the good 'ol fashioned racism of old people quite refreshing,"

They just don't meke em' like they used to!!

My oldest student who was lucky enough to witness a bea-U-tiful mushroom cloud over Hiroshima while she was practicing to kill American's with bamboo shafts comes in 2 weeks ago and says.

"I have a joke, can I say it? It's a racist joke about your you mind?"

After the joke she asked me if I was mad? I told her I didn't get it at all but God bless her for trying.

We both laughed and then we dove into a racist filled anti-Chinese rant for an hour!

I seriously love the old style racism as opposed to this new subtle implied crap....send it back!!

ThePenguin said...

Bloody foreigners and their weird foreign foods.

RMilner said...

Have you seen how expensive Marmite is in Tokyo?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Chris - Yep, good 'ol 'ol folks racism, not driven as much by hate as by old fashioned ignorance, much better than the hatefilled stuff

Penguin - Couldn't agree more, but to add to the confusion, here it's a native with weird foreign food (I know, it confuses me sometimes too)

RMilner - I don't even know what Marmite is, but it sounds like a mineral you mine?

Hanta said...

Does your mum call Swedish people 'gaijin' when she's walking about with some Japanese people?

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