Thursday, November 24, 2005

Two "free" proposals

I received two unusual "free" proposals over the past few days, one of which I was more than glad to accept.

Proposal 1:

A couple of days ago, I took a short cut via a back lane whilst going out for dinner. I don't usually take this route but it is near summertime now and we've moved to daylight savings. So it was still brightly lit (in fact, it gets dark only around 8p.m. now) and I felt safe taking that lane.

This particular back lane is quite narrow and can barely fit two cars in side by side. I was halfway through it when a white van turned in from the opposite end, heading towards me. I started drifting towards the right to give it ample space to pass through. Strangely, it also started drifting to its left, i.e. to my right.

So I stepped way out to my right and ended up walking just next to the right wall. The van couldn't move that far left, but it still had me hemmed in. Then abruptly, it screeched to a halt just next to me. The guy on the passenger seat, a chinese, looked out and spoke to me. Conversation carried out in cantonese (yes, I also know a little cantonese, shouldn't be surprising given that I listen to Alan Tam and George Lam's music)...

"Do you speak cantonese?"

"A little..."

He grabbed a filled out order form and poked it under my nose.

"We're from Penrith," points to address on the form,"and we're delivering Hifi systems to addresses around this neighbourhood. We've made an error and there is an extra set. We can't bring it back with us. Would you like to have it for free?"

"Err... no"

"It's free. If you don't take it, we'll have to dump it somewhere."

"Err... no, I don't want it."

"We're serious, it's free," as the driver nodded vigorously from the inside of the van,"please take it. We can show it to you."

I was silent for a while, partially because I was thinking of a reason to decline, partially because my cantonese is quite crap. Then finally, I thought of this.

"I don't want it because I am going back to my home country soon." (which is actually quite true lah, given that I have but 128 days to go)

Immediately, the passenger seat guy gave up and they drove off.

It was only AFTER the incident that I realised things could have gotten dangerous for me had I said yes.

Proposal 2:

A few months back, I found this
book on this website on Japanese kamikazes during WWII. I was intrigued! Memoirs by Japanese pilots have not been easy to come by and I certainly wanted to get a copy of it for my collection. So I followed the instructions of the website and sent an e-mail to the address provided. No reply. Not even to a second e-mail I sent about a week later.

I thought maybe the book is out of print already (it was published in 2001 afterall) and new copies are no longer available. So I tried
other sources. I found that only one used copy is available at various places (actually same seller) and it costs a hefty US$85, exclusive of shipping.

Fwah... so expensive.

Then I found another
used copy listed at a reasonable price a few days ago. E-mailed this seller and received the reply that the book has been sold. Duh.

I was almost going to give up looking for a cheaper copy and deciding on effecting the order for the US$85 copy (yes, I do crazy things for good books) when a thought hit me: I should e-mail the webmaster of the
initial website to find out where he got HIS copy.

He told me he had gotten his copy via the same e-mail address too but he is aware the seller, who is also the publisher and co-editor, seldom checks that mailbox now. In fact, the webmaster KNOWS the seller/publisher/co-editor personally and volunteered to contact him on my behalf.

Finally, the publisher replied to my initial e-mail. His reply was totally unexpected:

From: Imamura Book

To: Acey Deucey
Date: Tue 22/11/2005 10:00 AM GMT+08:00
Subject: Re: Resend: Shig: The True Story of an American Kamikaze

Dear Acey:

Thank you for your interest in purchasing a copy of Shig: The True Story of an American Kamikaze. I apologize for not replying to your earlier message sooner.

Please send me the address where you would like the book mailed and I can send it. I assume that you want the book in English. There is also a Japanese edition.

We self-published and distribute the books ourselves. So, we are not set up as a business. Therefore, instead of sending money for the book, please make a donation to an educational program or relief agency there in Singapore. We suggest a donation of about $20.00 (U.S.), the cost of purchasing the book in the U.S.

Again, I apologize not responding to you sooner. Thank you for your persistence and interest in Professor Imamura's memoir.

Co-editor, Shig: The True Story of an American Kamikaze

Now this offer (as opposed to the previous one), I was more than happy to accept. I wrote back offering to at least pay for the shipping cost, which he declined again. How highly unusual!

And so, I owe a certain charity in Singapore (not decided which yet) S$34. Writing it down and posting it here not only for you the reader, but also as a reminder to myself, so that I can effect the donation when I get home!

127 days to go.


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