Monday, 26 August 2013

Casual Fridays

If the average 40 year old Japanese banker wears khaki trousers, a button down shirt and boring shoes on a Saturday when going for lunch with his wife, then why does he wear a Nike cap, Nike Airs, white shorts and a Lycra t-shirt on "casual Fridays" at the bank?

This is the question I asked myself ten minutes ago when I got a call from T at Le Banque in Tokyo.  Turns out the electricity hasn't quite come back since last year's earthquake - don't ask -  and so they're saving-on-a/c.

Due to it being, well, the middle of summer, the CEO sensibly suggested that employees might "dress casually and not wear a suit or tie" to avoid total meltdown.  

Clearly, this was interpreted as "dress for Sports Day" or alternatively, "please all go home, dig around in the rag basket, hassle your 10 year old son for his hand-me-downs and throw it all on.  In the dark."

I suppose it was that or the French alternative which would have been to shut down the entire Japanese division.  That would be a far-better-way-to-save-on-a/c. Non?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Me and my kite

So, I took up kite surfing this year.  As someone who can't get down a slope and can't do anything on wheels, I would say this is an achievement.  I started in Boracay this February where I gained celebrity status (in my mind) by being one of the few beginners to get up and go within 3 days.

So, needless to say, when we arrived at the kitesurfing school in Paros this summer, I felt more than confident that I'd be "up and going" in no time.  They gave me a form with a list of all the techniques one should have at my level which I ticked off glibly.  Yes-of-course-I-can-waterstart-and-kite-in-both-directions.

Satisfied that I had clearly mastered the art, they threw me my equipment, assigned me Giacomo, an Italian, and off I sauntered into the howling wind and water.

Two exhausted hours later, I still couldn't get my feet into the board straps, let alone begin to try and fly my kite.

T. Not me

I floated in the middle of the bay, the wind whipping past my helmet, my knees tucked under my chin while Giacomo zoomed around me on his jet ski shouting unhelpful advice like "tuck in your knees!", "steady the board!", "straighten your front leg!"  

All his instructions blended together in my cold head until he finally took pity on me, flung my limp carcass onto the back of the jet ski and bounced me back to the beach.

Madly enough I tried again the next day, but this time with a Venezuelan who had much more helpful advice like, 

"fall on your arse, not on your face (you'll look prettier that way)"
 "shag, don't s**t" - read stand tall and don't hang your bum in the water

He also enthusiastically shouted "Ole" every time I swirled my kite in the wind.

Much better.  

For those of you mad enough to want to try kitesurfing, check out this link first.  
If you're too far from paradise, you can kitesurf in Hong Kong.  It's pretty grim but better than watching YouTube all day.