August 29, 2007

A Hodge-Podge of cultures

08. 24.2007 continued

You would think that, after Senegal, the Congo, Australia and Madagascar, I was an adventurous person. But actually, I'm not adventurous at all. I'm just impulsive and make rash decisions. So in the evening of the 24th, instead of roaming the streets of Waikiki in search of a cool dinner place, I stay on the premises of the hotel.

I enter a Japanese restaurant, because it is moderately priced and I ache for proper Japanese food (I live in Nagoya for a year, teaching as my students would say "Engurishu"). Sure, you can get nice bastardized Japanese food in Washington D.C., but it's sometimes hard to find the real thing. The awning is oh-so Japanese, and the waitresses greet me with an "irashaimase!" in their best high-pitched Hello-Kitty voices. It's a great sign already. They sit me at the sushi bar, overlooking raw pieces of fish and thick, curled and suckered octopus. I know a lot of people eat in restaurants alone, but I find it really awkward. I am not sure where to look and whether I should occupy myself by reading a book. Ultimately, I feel very rude to be reading while eating, and just focus on enjoying my sushi. And "oishi" it is! This is the real thing: Japanese staff and sushi chef, who cater to the sophisticated palates of Japanese tourists.

Perhaps feeling sorry for me, a single lady looking uncomfortable yet enjoying her meal, one of the sushi chefs engages me in conversation. He lived in California for 19 years (but speaks English like he only was there for one) where he owned a restaurant. Now, in order to relax, he is in Hawaii, working in this resort restaurant. He has been here for 6 years but professes that he will never be able to own a place, as one bedrooms sometimes go for $1,000,000 in this part of town. For dessert, I head to the cookies place, and sample the best macadamia nut, chocolate-dipped cookie in the shape of a pineapple, I've ever tasted.

On the way back to my room, I see Hawaiian dancers sway their hips and move their hands in wave-like patterns. They wear neon-colored sparkly dresses and assorted bras well-matched to their long long hair, and the men are dressed in Hawaiian shirts. Though the dance has become a cliché, it is really an experience to see it in person, accompanied by a live music arrangement. The bottom parts of their bodies mark the music's beat, the faces are fixed in a seductive smile, and the arms mimic the ocean, the pulling of a neat, the sunshine, and schools of fish. It is so enchanting that I don't see time pass. I now understand why sailors flocked to the Hawaii after long and lonely journeys (Ok Ok, other than food and fresh water)!


Anonymous said...

Man, now I *really* want to visit Hawaii :)
I totally relate about the eating alone part...
You should go snorkelling!

Carl said...

Nah, the hula girls are why sailors came to Hawaii. You can get food and fresh water in the Aleutians.

Rick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Hey, I'm a longtime reader, first-time writer and I love your blog! :-)

I just wanted to draw your attention to a new initiative to stop sexual violence in the Congo.

There is an EU-Africa Summit coming up in December where the Europeans can really pressure the DRC and the African Union to act. We're trying to collect as many signatures as possible before that, demanding that the fight against sexual violence as a weapon of war become a TOP legislative and funding priority.

Visit now to sign our petition - and please spread the word to your readers!

Thanks so much, and don't let boring, old DC get you down!

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