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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Very touchy subject

When I was in Melbourne in July, I saw a play called "The Gift" at MTC.
Synopsis was really vague (I realised after seeing the play that it was done on purpose), but I love theater and try to indulge every chance I get, so in I went with no expectations whatsoever.

Here's what the play was about.
Mature couple (late 40's) celebrates their wedding anniversary at a fancy resort on an island. Their marriage has gone a bit stale: no serious or obvious problems, but the passion is gone. They have no children.They are wealthy,as the husband has a successful home appliance company. He started it from scratch and continues to prosper.
While having dinner, they meet a much younger couple. That couple, in contrast, is not wealthy at all. In fact, they won the trip in a raffle.They are very much in love with all the abandon of youth.They have young daughter (she is back home).
The four immediately hit it off, talking most of the night and truly enjoying and appreciating each other's company.
The young husband is an installation artist, hoping to "make it big" and having some serious prospects to do so.
The older guy doesn't even understand what "installation art" means...LOL.. The dialogue is spectacular!
The next morning older,wealthy guy hires a boat for four of them to cruise around the island: he wants to continue the friendship, and everyone feels the same.
After an amazing day of sailing, sudden storm hits and the older guy is thrown overboard. His wife is frantic-"He cannot swim!" she cries.
Younger guy jumps into the sea, brings his friend aboard, but it seems that it's too late-no signs of life. But the youngster doesn't give up: he perseveres with mouth-to-mouth until the older guy starts breathing again.
Everyone rejoices, they get safely ashore and older couple is understandably very grateful. They want to give young people a gift, something substantial (one of the offerings was a prized horse).
But young people won't have any of it:they were happy to help, really enjoyed their new friends' company and are happy that everything ended well.
Then the older wife has a brilliant idea: "Why don't we re-convene in a year's time?" she said. Today is truly my husband's new birthday, as he was literally brought back from the dead, so we should get together next year to celebrate and THEN, after giving it some thought, you can tell us what you want for a gift.
Seems like a great idea and it's decided. End of  Act I.

Second act is set (predictably) a year later at the older couple's place. Younger couple did come to celebrate. They all talk about the events of the year past. Lots happened.
Younger guy did, in fact,make it big as an installation artist: his work was exhibited in one of the major art shows and drew attention of some prominent patrons.
Older guy discovered art: he visited quite a few galleries and, in stark contrast to the last year, is now well versed in different art styles, artists and their techniques.
Older couple's romance, it seems, gathered new strength as well. Wife giggles as she talks about their new found passion.
Then the time comes for the young couple to finally reveal what it is they want for a gift. "We will not take "nothing" for an answer"-the older woman issues the ultimatum.
Younger people are hesitant. They clearly have something in mind, but don't know where to begin. Finally, the husband tells a story. It is about a puppy they once had:one of those seing-eye guide dogs that are placed with regular families for a year to help them adjust and then are taken away to be trained.
Young man describes how they've come to love the dog and how his wife didn't want to part with it. He rang the agency and tried to buy the dog, but, of course, was denied (if we do it for you this once, then we'd have to do it for everyone else and what would be the point of the program then?).
The day came for the dog to be picked up. They both cried. Then it was gone, they sat down to have a glass of wine and, after an hour or so, realisation settled in: they felt...relieved... No more buying dog food and toys, no more worrying about dog being alone in the house, no more tailoring their free time to adjust to dog's sitter schedule, no more compulsory "toilet" walks in all kinds of weather, no more vet visits and bills... They felt free. Yes, they loved the dog very much and still missed him, but this feeling of freedom run parallel to that love, not interfering with it or diminishing it.
Older couple was puzzled. They weren't sure where this was leading. They asked for clarification.
Younger wife told another story. She talked of their daughter. How smart and intelligent she was (the girl was 5), how much they loved her.
She also talked about the fact that the girl was "an accident", definitely unplanned. She went on talking about how we all only have one "pool of love" and when you have kids, you have to deep into that same "pool" ,thus reducing amount of love for your partner,as there is only so much "love" in the pool. Not to mention the time you have to devote to kids (and one cannot stretch 24 hours, so it takes away from time spend with one's partner).
They both talked about how they just not meant to be parents. Not because they neglect their child (far from it) or don't provide for her, but just because they don't know "how".
For instance, husband said, we don't know how to play. Yes, he gets down on the floor with his daughter and tries to pretend, but he just can't get into it. It gives him no joy, only frustration and annoyance.
Then there is constant worry. What if something happens to their daughter, what if a stranger grabs her on the way to school, what if she gets a horrible disease,what about when she gets older... The list goes on and on...
As a result of all that, they both don't function at full capacity at their jobs, it curbs young husband's creativity and reduces the time he spends working (and he is undoubtedly talented), they argue a lot and feel that their love suffers.
Bottom line: they want older couple to take the daughter. For good. They feel everyone would be much better off that way.
Older couple always wanted kids, but were not able to conceive. They have all this love they want to give and they have all the time in the world and plenty of money-it wouldn't be a strain on them.
As a result the kid would be much happier and her future would be assured.
Younger couple would be free to develop their talent further and devote themselves to their love for each other.
At first the older couple is aghast.. They cannot believe what they are hearing. They tell younger people that, of course, they are good parents, how can they not be?? That everyone is,it's the nature's instinct. Surely, they just having a rough patch...
Very compelling argument ensues from both sides. Again, the dialoque in this play is amazing.

I was really surprised, as that was the first time I encountered this highly controversial subject matter to be presented AND both points of view represented equally and objectively. There was no slant in either direction. In the end, it was alluded that  younger couple got their wish and no judgement was given as to whether or not it was a good or bad thing: it was left to the audience to formulate their own opinion.

I am very partial to this subject.
From the age 19, I knew with every degree of certainty that I absolutely did not want to have kids. Ever.
I've never heard the ticking of "biological clock" and now, so many years later, I am very happy with my decision and, although I have regrets about some other areas of my life, this is most definitely not one of them.
In fact, it is almost a weekly occurrence when I think, in passing, how grateful I am that I stuck to my guns and did not fold under the pressure of society, my parents or my ex-husbands to have a baby.
I simply do not believe I would make a good parent. Yes, I would most definitely give it my best, but it would've made me profoundly unhappy and resentful.
I also do not have a great deal of patience and I don't believe in the old adage about "you'll find the love/patience when your child is born". I don't think it happens every single time. Some people are just not meant to be parents.
We are so conditioned by society that this is "the way": women are nurturing, they are "mothers", it's their nature. Every woman must have a child to "fulfil" her inner calling.
Well, I am a living testament to the fact that some of us do not have that "calling" and it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Children are all-consuming. They take over your life,pretty much. Some people crave that, they can't wait to get into the motherhood. And  it is beautiful, it truly is.
But for others children represent the end of their dreams and aspirations. It is a fact.

I have a couple of true life stories to support my theory.
My parents had me almost 6 years after they got married. My mother was a very successful professional athlete (volleyball). She played for Soviet National team. With grueling schedule of practices and never-ending competitions, she simply had no time for maternity leave.
Besides, Mom never excelled at school, she wasn't particularly beautiful and with her sports career, for the first time, she felt special. She was finally "someone". Her photos were published in Russian papers (along with the photos of other players, of course), articles were written about her. She was definitely a valued player: team would struggle without her. There were also trips to foreign countries, financial rewards (and mom was from a rather poor family), so it was absolute magic for her. And it did require a lot of hard work and dedication. Professional sport in Russia back then was really harsh and highly competitive.
Mom always had a fiery temper (I inherited that from her) and one day she had a huge argument with her coach. To spite him, she went off her birth control and got pregnant with me (so she would not be available for the next few months and he had one devil of a time to maintain team's position up on the top).
According to both Mom and Dad, her pregnancy was miserable. She was sick all the time and acquired some paranoid tendencies. There was none of that "happy glow".
When she finally had me, she couldn't keep awake to feed me. She almost suffocated me twice, falling asleep while feeding. Plus, her milk proved inadequate: it was too thin and there was not enough of it.
Back then we didn't have baby formula in Russia. Instead, local clinics had a program where mothers with plenty of milk bottled it and gave it to the clinics and others,who didn't have enough of their own, could come and pick it up.
My Dad had to go get the milk every day, he woke up every single time to feed me and, basically, was with me all the time.
Mom went back to training 1.5 months after having me. She couldn't be happier to be back at work.
About a year later my Dad's career picked up speed as well. He made it to Soviet National Team in sports sailing.
Both him and Mom had to travel all the time for training and competitions all over the country and the World.
Aged 5, I was now permanently living with my grandparents. I went through kindergarten and school living with them.
When my parents were in town, I would see them on weekends. As back then our school was 6 days a week (Sat being a full day of school), I would take a bus to my parent's flat Sat afternoon and come back to my grandparent's Sun night.
That's how travelling started,as during the school holidays I would travel to whatever city my Dad happen to train (and later coach) in and spend some time with him.
I am not saying this with regret: I think the situation made me a better person, definitely more prepared for life.
From the very early age I was self-sufficient and held responsible for my actions. I had to do my own homework, without anyone supervising me or reminding me ( and I was required to produce top grades). I had to entertain myself (I read a lot)-there was none of that "I'm booooored" shit happening,as both my Mom and grandma would immediately make me do chores (like housecleaning,washing,etc) if I said that...LOL..
I had to heat up my own meals, learn how to use public transport by myself and look out for myself when I was crossing the roads,etc
As my Dad was working most of the day when I visited him in other cities, and we always stayed in hotels, I learned how to order meals in the restaurants, how to manage my allowance, how to ask concierge for help, how to figure out transport system in unfamiliar city,etc.
Bottom line: I think I am so well adjusted today due to my unusual upbringing.
My Mom and I never really bonded. To this day we only get along when we are far away from each other(talking on the phone every week suits both of us just fine). When we get to be in the same space, peace lasts only a day or so, then arguments start...
I was very close with my Dad for a long time. In the past few years that has changed and I very much regret it, but it is a subject for another entry.
The moral of this story: I don't think my Mom was ever meant to be a parent. She never wanted it and never enjoyed it. It was not her calling. It doesn't make her a bad person, though, not at all. She is actually very warm, thoughtful and caring. She helped a lot of people (without any kind of reward) throughout her life. She just doesn't have the "parenting" gene.

Another story is about a childhood friend of mine.
Her name was Inga-she lived in the same building as my grandparents for a while. Her story was similar to mine.
Her parents were  very successful, talented surgeons (cardiology). She was an "accident". They had absolutely no time in their busy career to raise a child-they were "on-call" most of the time and absolutely exhausted when they were at home. They saved a lot of lives and gave hope to many people. They brought people's loved ones from "beyond the grave" many times when all hope seemed to be lost..
Inga's grandparents were very wealthy: her grandfather was a general in Russian Army and back then it was a huge deal. He had a government car in his disposal (for both personal and professional use), huge salary and endless perks.
Inga's parents dotted on her: she had nothing but the best. Best fresh food (available only at the "government" stores to government employees), best schools, best private tutors,best clothes. They went on fabulous vacations to Russia's premiere resorts ( you really don't know what "opulence" is until you see one of Russian "government only" holiday retreats).
Yes, Inga would probably not go hungry or uneducated if she lived with her parents, but she would not see them much, be left with nannies most of the time and, generally, she would not be better off.
Her grandparents gave her a better quality of life, more nurturing and loving upbringing.
She did see her parents-about once a year or so. She called them by their names (Dima and Natasha), rather than "Mom" and "Dad"-those titles were reserved for her grandparents,as it reflected the situation correctly.

As we all know, things are hardly ever black and white. Life is, mostly, different shades of gray.
Sometimes we take what society tells us to be a "norm" as a gospel truth, without giving it a second thought.
We condemn those who voice a different opinion. Perhaps, before we do so, we should ponder all "nooks and crannies" of the issue.

My believes are so strong, I've terminated seven pregnancies. They didn't happen because I was careless (well, except for the first one)-sometimes various birth control methods fail, no matter how diligent you are.
I am a huge supporter of "pro-choice". I firmly believe that terminating a pregnancy at an early stage is a responsible thing to do, vs. bringing a child to the world and then not giving him/her all the love, attention and care they need. Or, worth yet, have the Government care for your child, whether directly or through supporting the mother.

A lot of people use pregnancy as a means to manipulate other person- I find it absolutely reprehensible.
Both women AND men do it! Sometimes guys are hoping to "tie" their wives/girlfriends down with a baby, so they don't further their education, quit their job and stay home, relying solely on their husbands for financial support. This makes me sick.
One of my ex-husbands did (or,rather, tried doing) this to me. I suspect he poked the whole in the condom,as I was very diligent about birth control.
I haven't written about him yet, but Bob (that husband) was controlling manipulative, emotionally abusive egomaniac with some serious issues. He was Iranian and, I must say, whatever the cliche's are about those men, they are mostly true (such as movie "Not without my daughter").
I've never told him I gotten pregnant and arranged for an abortion straight away. The trick was to keep it  from him.
We just moved to a new city and had no friends yet, so I couldn't tell him that I was going to "stay with a girlfriend" overnight.
In America, abortion clinics put you completely "under" (full anestesia)  for DNC, so when you turn up for the appointment, they require someone to accompany you,to drive you home,etc.
As those clinics schedule all the abortions on a certain day, the waiting room is usually full. I wore a skirt with elastic waist and hid my car keys in the waistband. When the nurse asked me if I have some one with me I nodded enthusiastically and pointed in the general direction of the waiting room. She didn't ask any further questions.
After the procedure,you are wheeled into a "waiting room", where nurse wakes you up. They put you in the wheelchair and take you out into the reception. They do monitor things, but as so many people come and go, it is possible to slip away.
That's what I did. To this day, I have no idea how I've made it home unharmed: I was falling asleep at every red light and trying to force myself awake was proving to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. But I did make it. I slept for four hours until Bob came home and announced that we were going to drive to California (about 6 hour drive) to pick up the rest of our stuff that night. He said he was too tired to drive after hard day at work (he was a Restaurant Manager) and I had to do the driving.
Granted, I wasn't really sleepy by then-most of the drug has worn off, but it was still a dangerous thing to do. But I had no choice.
We've made it there safely and Bob never knew what I've done. He would've probably killed me if he did (I speak from experience,as he certainly tried to kill me, or at least seriously harm me, several times during our marriage).

Parenting is not my cup of tea. I know that in my heart of hearts.
I realise how controversial the subject is: there are very passionate advocates and opponents.
I do believe we need to see the "whole picture" and take all the circumstances into the account before we rush into judgment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Japanese clubs and brothels

When I lived in US, at one point it became really popular for American girls to travel to Japan for work.
"Agents" sprouted up everywhere offering "free tickets and accommodation" and "lots of money" to be earned.
The trend had to do with the fact that Japanese men like "western" girls, especially buxom blonds,as they are so different from Japanese women.
In most cases it was all pretty above board: girls went and made a lot (or some)  money and safely came back.
Sometimes things didn't turn out that great, when girl's passports were taken away by club managers/owners and they were made to work until their airline tickets and accommodation were fully paid for.
A bit of a grey area was around actual entertainers (singers, for instance). Pretty blond ones were aggressively recruited by agents for work in Japan. They were promised a lot of money. Most of those girls were not extremely successful at home: they were lucky if they got "jingles for commercials" jobs here and there:mostly they were starving hopefuls. They were not working girls, however, and honestly thought they were going to Japan to sing in a club.
They were,in fact, expected to sing, but that's not how  "a lot of money" was made promised by agents. They were expected to provide sexual favours in exchange for expensive gifts and sizable cash "donations".
Some of them took it all as par for the course and some were truly traumatised by the experience.
I always liked to travel and after listening to this one girl talking about Japan in a strip club where I worked, I've decided to do some research.
Internet wasn't what it is now back then ,but it was adequate. I got in touch with a female agent in San Diego (I lived in Las Vegas).
She explained to me that the ticket will be bought for me and the club will provide free accommodation, but I will have to pay the owner back for the ticket out of my earnings over the period of 9 weeks (minimum stay required). I wanted to be very clear about not surrendering my passport at any point and she assured me that it was a given.
I was getting excited: I love trips to far away exotic places!
I was given some basic instructions on how to act upon arrival to pass through immigration undetected (I was a US citizen, so didn't require a special visa, but the visa stamped upon arrival is 3 months visitor visa, which does not permit one to work). It was all common sense,really: don't pack any obvious "stripper" clothes or shoes,if questioned, tell them you're in the country "sightseeing",etc.
I was even given a fake hotel reservation with address and phone number :).
I was supposed to fly to Los Angeles, where agent would be awaiting with my round-trip ticket to Tokyo.
On appointed day I arrived to LA (only 45 min flight from Las Vegas), collected my luggage and was waiting for the agent to turn up... And waiting... And waiting..I tried calling agent's cell phone,but it went straight into a voicemail. After about 30 min I was thinking of various possibilities (that's just me: I want to have plan A,B AND C,just in case. I like things organised).
Since I didn't really invest that much money into the whole thing (some new wardrobe, ticket to LA), I've decided to just go back home and write the whole thing off. But before I did it, I sat down to eat a cup of yogurt. That's when breathless agent (scrawny looking chick who looked like she indulged in various recreational drugs) turned up.
So it was happening,after all! I didn't hide my displeasure with her tardiness (she was almost an hour late!) and she got really defensive, telling me that traffic was awful.
I got my ticket from her and I was on my way :)
I have to say, it was one of the best travelling experiences of my life. I flew Singapore Airlines and the flight was half-empty, so I could stretch across 3 seats and have a nice sleep (I noticed that Air New Zealand announced recently their new "deluxe coach" class where they offer exactly the same deal: they made armrests completely retractable and you can purchase 2 tickets at a regular price and the third for half price, so you and your partner can have 3 seats for yourself and lay down). Food was amazing and service impeccable.
They gave you a "care package" with some warm socks,toothpaste,toothbrush and face wipes. At any time during the flight you could buzz if you felt hungry and they brought you those amazing multi-level sandwiches with different fillings. Booze was flowing freely on request (all that in coach class!).
I slept,watched movies,read,ate-it was a great flight :)
I had no trouble passing through customs and immigration in Japan and was met by club's representative: a short Japanese guy in his early twenties. Turns out he was club owner's nephew and  worked in the club as a bartender. He didn't speak a lick of English, but was pleasant and during the next few weeks we actually had a lot of fun at work. One time, for example, he dressed in drag,as a joke,and climbed on stage to do a striptease. All of us girls joined him and we performed a "mock orgy'. Clients loved it and fun was had by all.
The club wasn't in Tokyo-it was in a small town about 2 hours south. Real estate is at a premium in Japan, so club was on the 3rd floor of a 15-story building (owned by the same guy who owned the club). Building housed a small restaurant downstairs, a "blow-job shop" (I'll explain that one later:) and apartments.
Us girls were housed right there in those apartments, so we only had to take elevator downstairs to go to work-pretty convenient.
My apartment had 2 rooms,each equipped with a bunk bed. Since I went in February and it was dead of the winter (really cold in Japan),there weren't many girls working and I had the room for myself. Another girl had the room next to mine and we shared a kitchen and a bathroom.
Apartment was passable-the only thing that took a lot of getting used to was a pillow. It was stuffed with either rice or small grain of some sort, so although pliable, not exactly what you'd call "soft" and definitely not anything that we are used to in "western" world.
As I was preparing for my trip, I bought a book-one of those "For Dummies" series, called "Japan For Dummies".
It proved to be extremely helpful throughout my stay and saved me more than once.
From it I learned about Japanese customs.
 For instance, when a man takes you out, you are (as a woman) the one to light his cigarette and pour a drink in his glass, holding the bottle a certain way (with both of your hands).
Japanese are gracious hosts, but will take a serious offence if westerners do not act according to a certain "code of conduct".
For instance, when invited to a Japanese house, one must always bring a present,artfully wrapped "Japanese" style, but it will never be opened by a host right then and there for everyone to look at and discuss:instead, it would be placed on a special table to be opened later,when everyone is gone. It is very rude to ask the host to open the gift straight away (unlike in Western world,where it is a norm and tradition).
The biggest fear of any Japanese is "loosing face" (to be embarrassed), so every care must be taken not to create a situation where this might occur.
Japanese try really hard not to say "No"-it is considered rude and is deemed something that will cause "loss of face". Instead,they ignore the subject that causes "No" answer and proceed saying "yes" to something that is,in fact,possible. I know it sounds unrealistic, but Japanese mastered this art of "yes" answers even when they actually mean "no" and are quite skilled at it. Those of you who worked in Japan know exactly what I mean :).
It is considered very rude to decline any food while you are being entertained by Japanese host (either at their house or at a restaurant). Instead, one must pick up a piece of food with chopsticks, touch it to their lips and put it right back down. That's all! No one is going to ask you why you're not eating a particular dish or why you don't like it or egg you on to try it-the whole thing will be completely ignored (again, that "loosing face" issue).
However, if you keep carrying on about "disgusting raw fish",etc, your host will take a grave offence (although he will never let you know in any way) and you will not be invited out by him again.
It is considered a sign of wealth and affluence in Japan for a Japanese man to be seen with Western women. In fact,the more women,the better! So if the guy asks you out in a club and you are not quite comfortable going off with him,ask if you could bring a girlfriend or two-he'll love it!
As I knew "the rules" in advance, I quickly became very popular among club's clients.
 It was a strip club-it opened it's doors at 7pm and closed at 3am (sometimes at 1am during the week when it wasn't busy).
We did stage shows and lap dancing. Nothing else.
However, club owner encouraged us to go out with clients, if asked, in our spare time (never on the "club time"). Club didn't get any fee or commission for that and they didn't care if you just went out for a meal or had sex,whether you charged for it or how much.
The reason club wanted us to do this, is clients then came back and frequented the club,as there were always "new" girls. There was a "door" fee and drinks were bought (Japanese men do drink A LOT), so club made money. If club became known for it's "uppity" girls who didn't want to spend any of their "free" time with clients, it would be beginning of the end for it-clients would go someplace else.
Japanese men are actually pretty generous, if you play your cards right. For instance, an American girl who arrived with me constantly (and loudly) complained about "gross" Japanese food and how she wants some KFC (there WERE,in fact, KFC shops in Japan). When we were invited out she behaved disrespectfully (by Japanese standards) and soon she was not invited out anymore.
Myself and my equally shrewd Aussie friend, however, knew how to act and what to say and we were taken on shopping trips (our host paid for our purchases,of course), dined at the fine restaurants (I remember one particular lunch at a French restaurant, where our host shed out $1000US for 4 people without flinching) and went to certain "Japanese only" places (yes, there are actually signs proclaiming "Japanese only" on the doors of establishments) because Western women (but not men) were allowed if accompanied by Japanese hosts. Not to mention the fact that both her and I came to Japan to make money and gladly provided sex services in exchange for some hefty cash "gifts"-our hosts happily paid extra,as we were willing to spend time with them during the day.
I got to explore a Buddhist Temple, old Japanese cemetery (very unusual),went to Kabuki Theater.... It was a lot of fun...
Smaller useful things from "Japan For Dummies"(but no less important) were the pointers about the city taxis: apparently in a nasty,rainy or snowy weather taxi drivers are reluctant to pick up fares,as they might end up going really far out of the city for the destination required by a passenger. So when flagging down a taxi in this circumstances, one should have two or three fingers out,which indicates that you are willing to pay double or triple the fair (depending on how many fingers you're sticking out).
This particular bit turned out to be a lifesaver when I got caught in a very unexpected snowstorm in Tokyo. I was wearing designer shoes and light coat,as it was quite nice out when I left my apartment (2 hour train ride from Tokyo) that morning. Then in the afternoon it suddenly went to shit. After trying to walk to the train station and having ice-cold water sloshing in my shoes after about 10 min, I tried to hail a taxi, but to no avail.
I did the "finger thing" and voila-one stopped almost straight away.
Japan is a very structured,organised culture. This structured environment includes adult entertainment.
Here's how it all works (in perfect harmony, I might add).
Japanese work very hard, but once 5pm strikes, they are all out in droves. First stop:a regular bar and a couple of "whisky water"s (drink of choice in Japan).
Then they want some "sexual healing" :).
First tier is what's called a "Hostess club". Girls are dressed in evening gowns and are well-spoken. All that takes places is conversation: there is no stripping or stage dancing of any kind. Gentlemen tips the lady for her time. If he wants to take the lady out for some more "in-depth" entertainment, he needs to first negotiate the price with the lady, then pay a "club" fee for taking her off the floor. Hostess club does not provide accommodation of any kind-it is up to a gentlemen to make the arrangements elsewhere.
Then there are strip clubs. Same version as western strip clubs: stage dancing with stripping and lap dancing in private areas,conversation in common areas,trying to get punters to buy a lap dance. A lot of Japanese men don't speak English, so clubs have "house mums",usually from Philippines who's job is to translate between the client and the girl.
There are a lot of Filipino WGs in Japan-it's great money for them. There was one named Dali in my club. Boy, was she talented: she had amazing stretching abilities. Dal would do splits on two stools set on casters: she 'd start by standing on both (one foot on each) and then slowly moved them apart,going into a "hanging" split in the process!
Her and I became friends and once,in the dressing room, she showed me a trick. She inserted three ping-pong balls into her vagina (red,white and blue),then asked me which one I want to come out first. At my request, the blue one came out and it WASN'T the last one to go in!!
Dali was married and had 4 different boyfriends: none of them knew about the others. All four supported her fully and paid her bills (so she got 4 times the money). She was very skilled in joggling them,as it was hard work. She could also cry inconsolably at will (sometimes I wish I possessed that skill),as she demonstrated to me one evening. Dali was chatting with me in the dressing room,laughing ad giggling, when house mum came in and announced that one of her (Dali's) boyfriend's has just arrived. Dali told me to watch through the door: to my utter amusement she was sobbing and tears were pouring down her face inside 2 min! She told me before she wanted some money out of that guy, so she was telling him about her poor sick child (all fiction) back in Philippines.
Then there is a "blow job" shop. Exactly what it sounds like: gentlemen walks in, picks a lady from a line-up,they go to a private area and she sucks him off. Nothing else happens. There is no dancing,conversation or entertaining of any other kind. Average visit lasts about 15 min.
In Japan they have "Fantasy Houses". Those are parlours, but with a twist. Gentlemen walks in and is greeted by a receptionist. He is provided with an album of photos: girls in different outfits, such as schoolgirl,nurse,etc.Prices are listed below the photos. There is a board on the wall behind the receptionist. On it there are photos of same girls,lit from behind. When a particular girl is in a booking,receptionist switches the light behind her photo off.
This way not much conversation required: guy walks in, looks through the photos,looks on the board to see who's available, pays the receptionist and up he goes into the girl's room. The actual girl is NEVER different from the photo: exact same appearance,hair colour and outfit (those are not interchangeable). Obviously, photos are updated regularly.
Of course, geisha houses are in a league of it's own: iconic Japanese staple, they are exactly the same today as they were centuries ago-and you guessed it-no westerners allowed, those are strictly "Japanese only" establishments.
 Japanese actually don't like change very much and try to keep their country traditional and true to it's roots-that's part of the reason they don't like westerners with their brash,disrespectful,crude attitudes/behaviour.
All these establishments are not competing with each other,as strange as it seems: Japanese men know exactly what they want and they go to the establishment that suits their needs the best on a given day.
Sometimes they combine two or three.
For instance, right nextt to out strip club was housed a "blow job shop". When a guy had a case of a "persistent wood", he went there to sort it out and then came to our club for relaxing conversation, stage show and some arousing lap dances (coming into one's pants during a lap dance because they were "hot and bothered" is unthinkable for a Japanese man-that "loss of face" I've mentioned earlier, definitely NOT like it was in Vegas,where punters often couldn't make it to the bathroom or couldn't be bothered...LOL..).
Sometimes guys came to our club first and THEN went to blow job shop for a quick relief.
It is customary in Japanese society (especially in "old style" families) for women to take care of the household and the children while men are working and "bringing home the bacon". Men earn a lot, but they also give a lot of money to their wives to take care of everything AND to spend on themselves.
For instance, you could never hear a wife bitching at her husband about a leaking roof-she is meant to call appropriate contractors to fix it,as husband put plenty of money into bank account.
Men are often come home at 3am, reeking of booze, cigarettes and vomit (and someone Else's perfume) and the wife is meant to clean them up and put them to bed, so they can get up in the morning,refreshed and ready to go to work. Any kind of complaining or questioning is considered scandalous and just is not done.
It is, obviously, different with a younger generation (but not all of them,as some choose "traditional" lifestyle).
Women are responsible for raising children and making sure they get a good education (as in do their homework and don't fall behind on their studies). Special attention is paid to boys-family's pride and joy.
It is known for Japanese mothers to have sex with their teenage sons, just to avoid distractions caused by sexual urges, so they (sons) could concentrate on their studies.
Women get plenty in return,though:in that same posh French restaurant where my host dropped $1000US for lunch, I observed 4 Japanese women dressed in designer clothes "doing lunch" and charging it, no doubt,on their husband's credit cards. And you should see those gals shop in Ginza (Tokyo's most expensive shopping district): whoo-peee and I thought I was a pro shopper... Hahaha.. Those women leave me in the dust!
Japanese are very honest: I've seen a guy who fell asleep at the train station with his wallet (expensive-looking,too), practically hanging from his inside coat pocket and no one was making attempt at stealing it: I was observing for about 20 min while I waited for my train.
There are plenty of perverts in Japan :). The most common form is for a guy to rub against female in a crowded train. Sadly, I am very  familiar with this phenomenon,as it was a popular pastime for sick disgusting men in my home town when I was growing up (only there they did it on crowded buses). One time this was attempted on me in Japan, I yelled at the guy and he didn't know where to hide-he was so embarrassed...LOL..
As I've mentioned before, real estate is at a premium, so families often live together,several generations, in small,cramped flats. This poses a problem as far as sex is concern,obviously (no privacy).
But Japanese have answer to everything. They created what's called "Love Hotels". Those are very discreet and rooms could be hired  hourly or nightly.
As one enters such hotel, he is greeted by a board on the wall with the photos of the rooms (exact photo of the decor and amenities) and prices. The ones that are available have lights on behind them. Reception area is covered by a curtain,all the way to the ceiling, so no one can see anyone. You just press the button underneath the desired room and push the money under the curtain at the window. Receptionist (you only see their hand) pushes back the key.
The proper etiquette is to lower your eyes and not make any eye contact or comments should you happen to pass someone in the hallway.
Rooms are actually quite nice (not at all "sleazy") and very fun. All the controls for the room are at the headboard of the bed (where two condoms are laid out as well-if you need more,it's up to you). Rooms have a disco ball on the ceiling sometimes and various moving coloured lights,as well as "mood" music. More often than not you'd find a small vending machine in the room that has various dildos,condoms,toys,etc.
I quite enjoyed "Love Hotels" and remember them fondly :).
I really liked Japan and hope to return there one day for a visit. But it is a very unique country and some westerners find it hard to palate (literally and figuratively) :)


Sunday, September 11, 2011

My stint as a stewardess (flight attendant) for Aeroflot Russian Airlines

Recent article in Yahoo news reminded me of my flight attendant stint when I was 18.
I must say, it was absolutely the BEST job, the one that I really truly liked and was willing to do forever. Alas, it wasn't meant to be: I only had it for a few months. But, boy, was it fun!

I've been dreaming about that job for years. I'd see flight attendants in town, in their blue uniforms and think of how great it would be to travel everywhere. Back then stewardess job was very much romanticised and everyone thought it was so glamorous. It wasn't actually,as I found out later, but I still loved it and had a lot of fun doing it.
Everything was owned by the government back then, including the only airline Russia had-Aeroflot.

Although airport itself was about 45 min drive out of my hometown, local Aeroflot Headquarters building was right in CBD.
One sweet summer day I went in there: I wanted to know how one would go about applying for a job (as jobs were not advertised in newspapers back then).
I was told that initial interviews/auditions for flight attendants were held on the 20th of every month.
Dressed in my best "professional" outfit (white blouse with high ruffled collar and navy blue skirt), I was at the door on the 20th at the appointed time.
I was ushered in a room where a "panel" sat: 4 men and 1 woman. They asked me various questions about my education and background and gave me appraising looks. At the end of the interview I was told to wait in another room.
After about 20 min wait I was called back and told that I was "pre-selected", BUT... I needed to undergo a medical/vision examination to determine whether or not I was fit to fly.
I was so excited! My dream was within my reach!
Next few days proved really trying,though, as I had to see various specialists in different clinics and undergo  numerous X-Rays. I almost didn't make the cut because of my chronic sinus problem: apparently if you had persistent sinus infections, you were axed. So I asked one of my girlfriends to undergo X-Ray for sinuses under my name: I was on pins and needles during that time,afraid to get caught, but it worked! I was in!
I was told to come and fill out the paperwork at HR office. That's where I hit another snag: the legal age for the job was 18 and I was only 17. But I pleaded with HR woman, pointing out that I was going to turn 18 within a month-she agreed to let it slide.
The day I got issued my brand new uniform was the happiest day of my life. I couldn't wait to start working.
We (newbies) underwent a three-day training program and then were assigned to "seniors" for probation period. Basically, it was like an apprenticeship, where we learned "on the job". However, if we failed the "final inspection" by one of the senior flight attendants when the "training period" was over, we could still loose the job.
I don't know of anyone who failed,though,as the job is really not a rocket science. The hardest part was to try and get everything done in a limited time frame that we had, as back then Aeroflot was not a modern, sophisticated airline it is now and lots of tasks had to be done manually.
As I've said, I loved the job, but only was able to do it for a few months: I was actually full-time student then and, as I got started in the beginning of the summer, it was fine until Sept, when I had to attend regular day-time classes at the Uni 6 days a week. I was still holding on to the job until Oct, when my Mom literally locked me out of the flat one day when I got home after a flight and demanded that I go back and resign,as I was missing way too many days from the Uni.
But I do have some interesting stories to tell :)

First was my brief love affair with a pilot: how could a stewardess career (however brief) exist without one,right?
His name was Tofic, he was half-Azerbaijani,half Russian (mixes are always so hot and sexy, both male and female). He was a First pilot, a Captain, much older than me, about 17 years my senior (back then I always went for older men). He was married to his second wife (ex-stewardess herself) who was heavily pregnant and worked at the main Aeroflot office at the time. In retrospect, he just wanted to get laid (wife's heavy pregnancy  was not conducive to that), was flattered that he could get "barely 18" girl into bed and I found the whole thing really exciting. It was my first "proper" affair with an older,married man. At no point did I have visions of us getting serious at any stage: I was just swept away with the novelty of it all.
We flirted, then I made an effort to get flights which he was piloting, then we ended up on the "overnight" flight (long flight, where the crew gets to a destination and spends the night in a hotel,returning to home base the next day) and, of course had some steamy sex, made even more exciting by the fact that it was "wrong" and "prohibited".
Sadly, I could never join a "mile-high" club with Tofic :/, as he was,in fact a FIRST pilot-he couldn't leave the cockpit for long.
We did have some "standing up" sex at the front door of his hotel room: it was a small enclosure with the door leading to a main hallway and another door leading to the room. The crew was in the room and both doors were closed, but unlocked, so anyone could walk in on us at any time-oohhh,that was so exciting!
On one of the "overnight" trips we went camping and him and I "did it" in the tent, in a sleeping bag, while his second pilot was snoring right next to us.
That affair lasted a few months even after I quit the job, but then kind of  fizzled out all by itself (natural progression of things).
I did hear from Tofic again, 2 years later, when our town was under siege (see "How I survived the war" post). He actually made an effort to locate me and offered to get me out of town-his crew was planning to,basically, hijack the plain and just get "out of dodge". Extreme circumstances is where you find out who your REAL friends are,that's for sure.

Russia had a lot of small planes in circulation back then. One of those was YAK40. It was very basic plane used for shorter,"local" flights. Several times pilots let us,stewardesses "steer" the plane-it was real steering,too,as everything on it was manual. One time the pilot actually let me sit on his lap during the take-off and, literally,pull the plane up off the ground (all I had to do was pull the "wheel" towards me). Looking back, I realise how dangerous it was (I had absolutely no clue what I was doing), but that's the beauty of being young and inexperienced: you don't really grasp full consequences of your behaviour (that pilot and I were putting not just our lives, but the lives of about 20 other people in danger).

Another type of plane, TU134, was a bit bigger, but fleet of those was much older and in a very sad condition. It,too, had "manual" steering. I was in the cockpit once during the take-off (blatant violation of the rules) and the pilot was this really short guy. As he started to pull the wheel towards him to lift the plane off the ground, I noticed that he was slowly standing up, trying to get proper leverage (those planes had no hydraulics). By the time we reached cruising altitude, the pilot was standing up fully, just like a captain of a ship. The whole thing looked hilarious to me; I could barely contain my laughter :).

Working a flight on the same type of plane once, I was in the kitchen, sitting on the bench,feet propped against the stove;often times we'd put extra passengers on flights in exchange for bribes,as tickets were sold out for months ahead and we gave up our "crew" seats and violated all aviation safety standards by sitting or even standing without seat belts during take-off and landing. The plain was taking off and I heard this creaking noise: it sounded like the plain was coming apart at the seams! I held my breath and prayed fervently that it holds up, as it was old and there is such thing as "metal fatigue".. It held :)

The best and biggest plane in Russian Aeroflot fleet back then was TU154. Those plains were newer and nicer. Still, they had their problems. Many times Russian ingenuity of the pilots saved the day.
Like that one time when we were approaching Moscow... We started our descent when, to my great amazement, I saw the 4th pilot (also known as "flight engineer") run into the kitchen. This was highly irregular,as all of the crew was needed at the cockpit to execute the landing.
Without saying a word, engineer pulled all the fuses from our kitchen stove and rushed back into the cockpit.
Landing went without a hitch and, when all the passengers left the plane, we were told that the whole instrument panel went dark during landing (there was electric short and all the fuses were blown)-we lost all navigation. Instead of panicking, engineer demonstrated some quick thinking by using kitchen fuses!

Another time we just barely took off when the First pilot rang the kitchen: apparently, one wheel of the landing gear was stuck midway and we needed to burn all the fuel before we would try to "belly-land". Back then it was not customary for a captain to explain the situation to the passengers: it was our job as a cabin crew. We tried to delay it as long as we could, but a few started getting alarmed when they noticed that we are just cruising around the take-off city on a low altitude.
We explained the situation, told passengers not to panic and stay seated with their seat belts on. Of course, not everyone listened. We had to keep everyone calm for the next 2 hours and people were getting antsy.
It was nerve-racking. At one point I noticed some guy getting up from his seat and reaching into overhead compartment. I've had enough: I swiftly went over,pushed him into his stomach, which effectively forced him  back into his seat and told him to "sit the fuck down and don't move". He did as he was told-I think I looked really scary..LOL..
Ultimately, the landing ended up being drama-free;almost in the last minute the gear went un-stuck.

Back in those days different areas of Russia were experiencing shortages of different goods/products. I think everyone knows about the toilet paper issue, as it was featured in many a movie..LOL..
There were other things. For instance, my hometown had shortage of meat and butter. Each family received coupons from local authorities: one per person, for a kilo of butter and 2 kilos of meat per month. We had to go to the grocery store and present the coupon and then purchase those. Although displayed in the cases,meat and butter were not sold without the coupons.
However, other republics/cities were not affected by those shortages. While I was a stewardess, I had a neat little business going, bringing cases of butter back home and re-selling it at a profit.
My Mom would inform our neighbours in advance, before I even got home from the flight and they would "put the order in" (how many kilos). It went really fast-I never had anything left over,as Russians like to bake and our baked good are very rich and require a lot of butter :)

Certain flight routes were more desirable than the others to both pilots and flight attendants. For instance, flights to Tallinn (capital of Estonia) ranked pretty high up there,as to us Estonia was almost "The West"-it was sophisticated,elegant and beautiful  with huge cafe culture (almost unheard of in those days).
One had to be friends with the roster-maker to get those flights,as they were limited and only "seniors" got them.
Tallinn was "overnight" flight, so the crew could really partake in the city,it's bars and restaurants.
Often times crew would get together in a hotel room after a night out,drinking. This usually ended in mass orgy (as it does :).
On one such occasion (I wasn't there), one of the stewardesses had a change of heart and refused the advances of the pilots. I don't seriously believe anyone was going to rape her, but everyone was really drunk (including said stewardess) and she ended up jumping out of the window (it was only second floor) and landing on a canopy of the hotel. She wasn't hurt at all, rather really embarrassed (she was practically nude).
This caused Estonian Administration Of Civil Aviation to lodge a formal complaint to our boss (the Head of Azerbaijani Administration Of Civil Aviation) and his brilliant solution was to cut out "overnight" portion of Tallinn flights for 3 months, as a punishment. We were all pretty pissed,as that "overnight" was our little treat and one of the perks of the job and everyone got punished because of two people's bad judgement while under influence.

I have to point out that although few of the pilots violated the rules sometimes (like flying while still hangover), Russian pilots were really well trained and skilled. They had to fly inferior  planes/equipment and they made it happen over and over again, dealing with emergencies "on the go".

Many years ago, when I lived in America, I watched a documentary about a plane that crashed due to malfunction of navigational equipment. The "black box" was recovered and recording of the conversation in the cockpit was re-played.
What happened, in a nutshell, was the plane was flying in a really bad weather,at night, with zero visibility. Somehow,gages malfunctioned and were showing the wrong altitude (pilots believed they were a lot higher than they actually were). At some point,all communication with the control tower was lost as well. As everyone was relying on instruments alone, pilots were executing a "blind" landing. They believed they were 1500 meters high. When they finally came out of the low clouds, it became apparent that they were only 500 meters high! They saw the ground rushing up at them.
What really impressed me was the Captain (the First pilot): while his "second in command" was screaming and,clearly,lost all control, the Captain just kept saying in a low,calm voice "it's OK,we're gonna make it. It's alright. Calm down.".
Understand that at that point, when he saw the ground and realised how low they actually were, he knew he was seeing his death,plain and simple. There was absolutely no way to correct the plane and pull it up-there wasn't time. No miracle could save the plane in that stage and, as trained professionals, pilots knew that in a instant (that's why the second one started screaming). Yet the Captain maintained his composure and tried to calm his "second" down. To me, it was truly astounding.

I did miss being a stewardess. I've applied for a job with Delta when I moved to US and was actually offered a position. But you know what they say about not being able "to step into the same river twice...
The money offered was miserable AND I had to move (permanently) from California to Newark and due to my circumstances back then, it just wasn't possible...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Phone etiquette for a booking (funny stories about unique NZ punters)

When in NZ, I like to travel around-the country is absolutely gorgeous. I usually combine business with pleasure:do some sightseeing,visit my friends and work at the same time.
NZ only has three major cities:Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch (which is laying in ruins after several major earthquakes at the moment). The rest is comprised of various regions (like Hawkes Bay,Taranaki,Marlborough,Central Otago,etc). Each of those regions has one decent sized town which is considered the "hub" or a "capital", if you will, of that particular region. Those towns,although pretty small, have some nice restaurants and, once in a while, you can come across an unexpected shop that just might surprise you :).
NZ is very unique when it comes to advertising Working Girl's services. Prostitution was de-criminalised here over 6 years ago, so it's perfectly OK to ply out trade and advertise.
However, it's the only country (in civilised world, I mean) that I know of that relies so heavily on newspaper advertising for the services of prostitutes in this day and age of advanced technology.
Yes, there are websites (one of the biggest and most popular ones being NZGirls which is connected to Adult Forum-the biggest online forum for adult entertainment industry in NZ), but on any given day, your average punter in here picks up local daily paper and looks through adult entertainment section to satisfy his needs.
This creates another phenomenon: girls are asked to describe themselves over the phone and often times that is the only thing punter has as far as "visuals". You can only imagine how that leads to disappointment sometimes.
Kiwis are very laid back (so much so that if they get any more laid back, they'll be horizontal..LOL..). This "laid back" attitude definitely spills into the way they talk when making phone inquiries.
For instance, in US, people are very businesslike in their approach to everything. When they call to make a booking or inquire, it's a very fast-paced conversation with specific,RELEVANT questions and requests.
Here, in NZ, it's a different story...
Let me offer an example of an average phone inquiry. Before I do that, I'd like to point out that I structure my ads to give as much information as possible. For instance: "Euro.Amazing body.DD.Tall,slender.3 days only.Discreet CBD hotel  000-XXX-000 <my phone number>". So before you ever picked up the phone, you already know that I am white Caucasian (that's Euro-European) with ample bust,only in town for 3 days (which also means I'm "new",as I probably never been here before or haven't been in a long time),really good body,slim and tall.
Ring,ring,ring <my phone rings>
I answer sweetly "Hello"
Punter "Hi...Are you there? I'm calling about your ad in today's paper"
Me <pause>-I'm waiting for him to proceed with the inquiry as I can't guess what he wants to know-I can't read minds
Punter <after a pause> "Yeah,can you give me more info"
Me (still not sure what exactly he wants to know, but just go with the prices for starters,as that's the only thing NOT covered in my ad). "It's <amount> for an hour and <amount> for half an hour
Punter "Ay,ye....." <pause>   "Can I have a brief description?"
Me (thinking:the description is in the ad,if you want to know something specific,ask,but OK) <proceed to repeat the description in the ad, adding country of origin>
Punter "Ay,ye...How old are you?"
Me "Do you have access to Internet? I can direct you to the site where you can see my photos" (because age is a very relative thing and is a matter of perception. for instance, i've never had any kids, never done drugs or smoked, never tanned excessively (that ages you a lot). I have no tattooes or piercings and am very slender and take good care of my body with the help of various beauty treatments. So I look much better than some of much younger girls I know who had 3 kids by the age 24,smoke like chimneys, use drugs,etc)
Punter (in 90% of the cases) "No, I am just calling from my phone" (Dah, I know THAT,that wasn't my question,though-you could have Internet access on your phone for all I know)
Me <give him my age>
Punter "So are you Asian or?.." Now, this is the thing that drives me crazy in this Hemisphere: they ask  questions ending on "..or.." and nothing else. It is incomplete sentence! I was taught at the Uni that I should NEVER do that,as it is a poor grammar. "..or.." WHAT?, for crying out loud.. Besides, after hearing my strong, obviously Slavic accent and reading the ad that says "Euro" how does one even come up with "Asian"?! I don't get it.
Me "No, I am white European"
Punter "So you're gonna be here for a while,are you?" (variation:"Are you here for the World Cup?"-and that matters HOW?)
Me "No. Just like the ad says-3 days only. I don't live here" (thinking: the ad costs money,why would I waste it printing something that's not the case??
Punter "Oh..So where are you based?" (again, how does that matter? Note how much time (and phone minutes) is wasted so far)
Me "I live in Wellington"
Punter "Ay, ye.. So when are you available?"
Me "I work by appointment only. I take bookings"
Punter "Ay,ye..So when are you available?"
Me "What time are you looking for?" (this is important,as if the caller only could do morning or lunchtime meeting, there is no reason for me to fire off all available times. Plus, if the punter tells me his desired time, it's much easier and less time consuming: for instance "I would like half an hour booking at 10 am".
 I understand that guys work and have families/obligations. I DO respect and appreciate their time. They usually can only do it at certain times. Well, tell me what they are and we can sort this out so much quicker!
Punter <sometimes makes a booking and sometimes tells me that he needs "to check his diary" and call me back.
There are variations to this conversation, when punters answer "3 days only ad" and ask me whether I'm "working today". Well, whaddaya think? I am here for 3 days, I paid for the ad (and they don't exactly come cheap), I got a hotel room.. Yes, of course I am working!
Or someone rings and asks for the price straight away, then proceeds with all the other questions (see above), only to tell me at the end that it's too much money. But that was the FIRST question you asked, I want to scream,why didn't you hang up then and there?
Sometimes guys ask if it's a "full service I offer or..." (again with that blasted "or" and incomplete sentence).
I am a prostitute, I advertise as such in appropriate section of the newspaper (for instance,Dom Post in Wellington has a separate section for "sensual massage"-meaning massage with "happy ending" vs. full sex service), OF COURSE, it is a full service.
Another huge pet peeve of mine is the concept of "booking" and "appointment" in nz. This particular concept seems foreign to most Kiwis (probably that laid back attitude to blame). In US I had a day-planner and my clients usually booked days and definitely hours in advance. This way I could schedule my own errands in between and allow plenty of time for me to get ready and look my best for the client.
Here people ring and ask if I am "free now". When I tell them they need to make a booking, they say "OK,let's make a booking. Can I come over in 10 min?". I really just want to scream. I do.
 "Now" and "10 min from now" is NOT a booking-it's a booty call. I don't ask for appointments because I want to sound important-it's better for everyone that way and much more organised and enjoyable.
I live only 2 min down the street from my employer in Wellington, so sometimes I'm willing to accommodate a 'booty call" when someone turns up at her doorstep un-announced and she has no girls in the house. However, punter will need to deal with the fact that I, most likely, will not have any make-up on and will be wearing PJs.
 I am not kidding:happened a couple of times, when a client had a case of a "morning wood", rang Lilly, got no answer (as she doesn't start answering the phones until 10am) and came over anyway!

What really annoys me is punters trying to bargain down the price. I price myself VERY realistically for what I look like and what I have to offer. I don't understand why people want to embarrass themselves by asking.
Just this morning (I am in Taranaki ATM) the guy called and asked ALL the questions (see sample conversation above) and then said "How about $80". I started laughing-I honestly couldn't help myself. He said "You laughing" accusingly and he sounded hurt almost.. Well, don't ask stupid questions and you won't get stupid answers-that's one wisdom my Dad taught me from a very young age.
Something specific to Taranaki happened this trip (it's never happened anywhere else before) when some guy text me and asked me if I want to have coffee. This is my "work" phone, so I wasn't sure if he got the wrong number,maybe, but,no.. He saw my ad in the paper and thought it would be OK to text me and ask me for a coffee/drink. He never even booked me before! WTF?!

Sometimes punters call and make "fake" bookings(they book and never turn up and don't answer their phone)-again, very NZ thing. I can't imagine why would one want to do it and how is it fun for them? It is very frustrating,as for me it means loss of money and time, as I can't book someone else on such short notice and don't have enough time to go do something else,as I usually have another booking coming shortly (I try to schedule several bookings in a row with a nice long break in-between the "rows").

I love NZ-it's a beautiful country which is very unique. Generally,people are awesome:kind, easy going and relaxed. But sometimes doing business is challenging,that's for sure :/