Friday, May 30, 2008



It is our turn, this year, to be the leaders of our block for the neighborhood community association. It is not a major responsibility, but it does take some time. There is a monthly meeting (which Toshi attends), weekly patrol, distribution the community newspaper once a month, organization of the summer festival, collection of the community association annual fees, and the request for a donation to the Red Cross twice a year. When Toshi attended the first meeting, he realized that his childhood friend is the leader of his block this year, a happy coincidence that has lead to a BBQ at their house and a taco party at our house so far. Toshi started off doing the patrol, but then he went on a business trip and asked me to do it while he was gone. I agreed. He has been back for two weeks now, but somehow, I am still doing the patrol. Hmmmm. It is good for me though, a quick walk around the neighborhood after dinner, the leader announcing the patrol is making its circuit, reminding people to turn lights on, gas off, lock doors, holding a red flashing light or, if I am lucky, they might even let me do the kachi-kachi. My first night on patrol one member asked me how to say "kachi-kachi" in English. I had to honestly reply that I had no idea. I told him that this kind of patrol is not something we do in America. I realize this is a broad generalization and I can't speak for every neighborhood in America, but people ask me to speak for all of America on a daily basis. Sometimes I explain that America is a huge country and really I can only speak for myself, but other times I am too tired and I just tell people that, sorry, we don't have "kachi-kachi" in America. Please correct me if I am wrong. So, what the heck are "kachi-kachi" anyway? Well, they are a pair of long wooden blocks that you strike together to punctuate the announcements the leader makes. Like this: "This is the neighborhood patrol." CLACK CLACK "Please remember to turn on porch lights to keep the neighborhood bright." CLACK CLACK "This is the neighborhood patrol." CLACK CLACK "Let's keep our neighborhood safe and lock our doors." CLACK CLACK! Toshi says these have been used throughout Japan for ages to remind people to put out fires, turn off gas stoves, etc. before sleeping. If anyone knows how to say "kachi-kachi" in English, please enlighten me.

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