Friday, June 06, 2008

Thursday 29th May: Medicine Man Steals North Wind...

My first post-collywobbles social engagement was the monthly session of mahjong at the Doc's parents' place Thursday-week ago. It was the last engagement of a packed afternoon in the Hatchobori area of Hiroshima which saw the Poor Little Cypriot switching roles and locations four times in the course of a couple of hours in response to the demands of the schedule and the stomach.

First stop was the office of a Hiroshima-based NGO where your humble blogger serves as Consultant-in-Chief for Online Communication in English. The office is just down the road from the Doc's parents' place, but since I had to retrace my footsteps so as to pick up a mahjong set for an overseas customer, my route took me past a Chikara udon shop, but not before I had popped in for a ten-minute guzzle on a steaming bowl of tamago udon. Seriously, all it takes from slapping your cash down and guzzling your udon down is ten minutes; ten minutes and your tank is full again...

So, anyway, when I arrived at the Doc's parents' place, I was laden with a fine mahjong set, and full of warmth and vigour, which was augmented shortly thereafter by the first cleansing beer of what turned out to be a rather long but thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Naturally, the evening would not be complete without the table breaking down. This evening's breakdown occurred when some open-hand tiles from the previous game were noticed to be still on the table just after someone had pushed the button to close the flap. The senior doc attempted to push them into the hole just as it was shutting, but the result was that they got jamed in the closing flaps. He pushed them into the machine and the flaps shut, but the machine ceased up.

I then suggested that they resort to the turn-it-off-and-back-on-again trick which seldom fails, but does not necessarily succeed as you expect it to! I had forgotten that the machine would want to begin the cycle again, and so it did, with a great whirling-gurgling it began to shuffle both sets of tiles together in the middle of the machine. We were therefore faced with the operation of digging out both sets of tiles, sorting them and reloading them.

Mrs M then got her powder puff out and liberally decked the tiles with some Johnson's baby powder or the Japanese equivalent, which is said to prevent them from getting sticky and facilitate their smooth run through the machine. It certainly seems to work.

There were several lively hands through the course of the evening, but the one I remember most is the one that I declared "Riichi", waiting to complete one of two pairs. One of the pairs was the North Wind, which was both my wind and the dora tile. The younger Doc hesitated and I anticipated that he would throw the North tile, as indeed he did. Just as I claimed it with a loud "RON!", a voice suddenly piped up on my left, also declaring "Ron!"

It turned out that the senior Doc was on the ball. He had suspected that I was waiting for the North tile and changed his hand to Chitoi (7 pairs), holding onto the North that he had drawn... And since, in our version of the Four Player game there is no double Ron, the Doctor took the prize and robbed me of mega points!

I couldn't believe it! But I had to admire the guile of the senior Doc!

The session ended with the PLC as top dog for the evening, and the taxi fare home nicely sorted.

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