Sunday, January 09, 2005

Age and long-windedness


Some smiles at the New Year Party (C) Lrong Lim


When I was a graduate student at Nagoya University, I used to join the many pleasure field trips organized by the Aichi Foreign Student Association (AFSA).

The founder and advisor of AFSA was Makishima Sensei, a man in his late seventies when I first got to know him in 1990.

He was in his forties when he gave up teaching to take care of foreign students full time.

Makishima Sensei was a real nice man and was fond of making long speeches.

Speeches that almost always begin with 'Does anyone know how old I am?'

Those who already knew kept quiet.

And each time he revealed his age the 'new' students would give a thunderous 'whaaa'.

I was very interested in foreign student affairs, and somehow I became involved in AFSA deeply.

I could more or less know what his next words were in the countless speeches I heard from him in my six years at Nagoya.

Today at Takamatsu, as in the last ten years, several 'international' associations got together to hold the Japanese New Year celebrations.

I have been in the organizing committee for about eight years.

Time and again I have rejected nominations of me being the chairman of the organizing committee.

Too much hassle. Until this year.

So, there I was, making the opening speech as the organizing committee chairman.

I had all the time to prepare for the speech but I did not do it.

So there I was... babbling and babbling away on matters of no consequence.

Until one committee member yelled softly from the crowd, 'hey, your speech is getting too long'.

In my 'younger' days, I have never been reminded of such behavior.

But this was the second time in a month that someone alerted me of my long and winding speech.

(Prior to this, I was droning away on stage at the Christmas party organized by the Lions Club).

Is it that, the older one gets, the more long-winded one becomes?

An elderly Japanese professor said this on stage a few years ago.

'Speeches, should be short... like mini skirts. But contents should be fulsome... like bosoms'.

If he were to say this on stage today in Japan, he may be charged for seku-hara, (sexual harassment).

But please don't charge me either; I am only the 'story-teller'.

The New Year Party went extremely well with almost 300 people in attendance.

The food was delicious, as always... the entertainment, lively... and the company, joyous.

But as usual, I didn't get lucky in the lottery draw.

Recalling what I mumbled on stage, probably the only notable thing was my urging the attendees to remember the millions who perished or are presently suffering from the tsunami disaster.

We passed the hat around, intending to send the contributions to the Japan Red Cross Society.