petek, 29. julij 2011

Let's waste some time together

This is the best description of Asian way of working. I'm not talking about Chinese - Philippino - You Name A Poor Country - slavery work, I've done it and it's same as anywhere around the world. I'm talking about normal daily farm work as I experienced it in Japan and here. To an outsider it may look as highly organized and extremely efficient. Dream on.
I will not repeat myself with stories from Japan, the last few days here are enough. Not that I complain, I'm still at a loss with this way of doing things where the time needed to do something is much more appreciated than the result. Few days ago I had to move from my lovely traditional house in the orchard to another bungalow and before leaving I had to clean it. Easy, it's not a really big house and I'm not your ordinary dirty male; clean the dust, sweep and wash the floor, done in maybe 15 minutes. Wrong! When I reported that the mission is completed I got only amazed looks. No, no, you have to clean it well, guests are coming in the afternoon! Yes, yes, I cleaned it well, guests are coming in the afternoon! A whole committee went to check the house and to recheck and willing or not they had to admit that the house is clean. But their faces were telling another story. They were not happy at all. I did it too fast thus it's not really clean, maybe it just looks clean and even if it is really clean I did it so fast thus... I was just waiting to see the CRC message appear in their eyes. And even more important than that was the fact that I completely messed the daily schedule. They had to find (make up) any job for me for the next few hours (which I was supposed to spend cleaning the house). Yes, I know, I should have gone to sleep and make it look like a work of hours, but it's not really my style. And it's not even Asian style. They really seem to do something all the time.
Today this stuff reached such epic proportions that at the end of the day I literally ROFLed. It was to laugh my lungs out or to cry in despair.
It's time for persimmon census. Yes, we count the fruits. For the insurance. Clearly we don't count all the fruits, but for an average figure we do 16 trees in bigger orchards and 12 in the smaller ones. Here they have a whole philosophy and a very complicated way to choose which trees are suitable for the census that takes a very long time to be explained in every single orchard. At the end everybody just picks random trees and does the counting. We have to do something like 50 orchards because the farmers have a collective insurance and it seems that here Kang is the Master of Persimmons. The average number of fruits is around 250 (I bumped into a tree with more than 500 fruits). You would never believe how fast we do it. We swarm the orchard, six of us, so we do two or three trees each and in less than five minutes we are done. We start after breakfast, 8.30 AM and before lunch we do something like five orchards. No, we don't have lunch at 9 AM but at 1 PM so there must be something really really wrong, don't you agree? OK, the orchards are quite far from each other, true - but some are very close. You think we do them one after other? How naive you are! That would be a very bad way of doing things! You see, we got a list, compiled by the insurance company and I guess it's by alphabetical order (because since now we were doing only orchards that belongs to different Kims) and we go by the list. Yesterday we were two times in three places just to do the orchard near the one already done. But today we were three times in a place where we were two times yesterday! It would actually be possible to do all the work in two days - in this way it will take us a week. When I saw where we were parking I felt rising a tide of despair but decided that actually there is a funny side in all this and lied down in the shade of a tree (persimmon, what else) and started laughing. Folks were amazed why this crazy foreigner is so happy so I tried to explain that I always find madness funny. We were here two times yesterday and two times today - why we didn't do the counting in all the five orchards the first time? They showed me the list and explained to the uneducated barbarian that we work by the mighty document with many seals and signatures. I stopped laughing and wanted to cry again.
My ninja coworker

Another day, another way
Even if I don't post every day on this blog I write almost every day, when something is to be mentioned. What I wrote yesterday would be softened today, so now the contrast will be more clear. Because in the morning I had a really hard time to control myself when we were sorting the lovely pink ribbons we use for marking the persimmon trees. Everything is on them, the name of the owner, number of the tree, date, name of the censor and the number of fruits. Guess what? We were sorting them by locations, not by names. I bit my tongue not to say something nasty. And we did something even better, we worked in two smaller crews in different areas so tomorrow we'll finish the work. Now I'm only afraid that everyone will hate me because they'll have to redo the weekly schedule.
I was planning to leave in a few days to go back to slavery work, cabbage season is due to start in Gangwon do, but during breakfast Kang told me that in the beginning of August we'll have another school here, for two days. You noticed that "we"? But as soon as the kids will leave I'll jump to Japan for the visa extension and then picking cabbage.

This morning I woke up at six and looked through the window. For a moment I was sure I had taken some illegal substances without knowing it. The rice fields around me were glittering like a sea of emeralds. When my sight wasn't so blurred anymore I noticed it was not a sea of emeralds, but that there are milions of diamonds on the rice plants. I grabbed my camera and ran out before the sun changes the angle that makes the dew drops so shiny. It really was an amazing sight and also a beautiful way to start a new day.

We had two rainy days so we were doing small works near the office building with the roof always at hand. And today in the morning we finally finished the counting of persimmons. Three days and half and in the last day and half we did more than two thirds of the work. We left the hardest two orchards for last.

It took us almost half an hour to climb the top of the hill, covered with persimmon trees, and we slowly descended, marking the trees.

Before lunch we had to do the most boring part, paperwork. Copy all the figures , recheck the numbers and so on.

And after lunch - an unexpected (for me) joy.

I noticed that Koreans are very paranoid about their persimmon orchards. Gates everywhere!

But no gates around lotus fields. It's blossoming time. They do have something mystic, but not on my pictures...

And another mystic one, a light in the middle of the rice fields, have no idea why is there but I see it every time I go back from the store with beers...

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