Friday, May 10, 2013

Hey, That's Not a Water Fountain!

As part of our continuing series, “You Can’t Fix Gaijin," I recently had a moment at my current placement at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I could tell you about what I’m doing or how it feels to balance work and a baby, but my discovery of another personal hygiene contraption is far more interesting.

After lunch the other day, I stopped for a sip of water at the water fountain.  I didn’t question why the water fountain was in the bathroom, rather than the hallway – lots of things are different here. Don’ t worry, this story isn’t that gross.

No sooner had a strange minty flavor hit my tongue than I realized that the water was an equally strange, frothy white color.  I yelped, certain I’d poisoned myself, and then noticed the English sign saying that it was a gargle fountain. Of course, the other women in the bathroom asked if I was ok and I had to explain that I didn’t know it was a gargle machine and not water. 

If you want a quick refresh, you can gargle the faintly mint liquid and spit it out in the basin. The remains will be washed away by a separate water spout. Just don't drink it and, for god's sake, don't spray it on your eyeball. I routinely wash my eyes at a water fountain, don't you?

Under the picture of the garglers, it says, "Not for drinking or  eyewash." 

I’m never at a loss for new experiences here. 

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