Today, February 25th, in Vienna the weather was very nice and also the temperature has risen considerably. In this good mood I went again to get an antigen test. The result is negative! With this proof of testing tomorrow I can, after a very long time, go to a rehearsal again. How I have waited for this! I also got a new haircut and with a cheerful heart I will surely have a good rehearsal.
After a long period of thought I have decided to get a haircut. Starting some years ago, I always went to hairdressers in Japan. Here in Vienna there are of course good hairdressers but unfortunately the chemicals for permed hair are not good for my hair. No matter how well local hairdressers cut and take care, due to the locally available chemicals my hair always looks like after an explosion. This time because of Covid19 I haven’t had a chance of returning to Japan for a long time. The last time I went to a hairdresser in Japan was in September 2019. I cannot take it anymore! Getting a perm I will do next time in Japan, this time I will only get a cut. My appointment is set for tomorrow, oh how I look forward to it! Now because of Covid19 one needs a proof of testing with a negative result. That is why today I went to a large testing locations to get tested. Negative! Thank god. I can get a haircut tomorrow…
Starting February 8th in Austria there has been some easing of restrictions. But still, restaurants, hotels and event locations remain closed. Now the situation is being confronted by many more testings. There are compulsory antigen tests for workplaces and schools. Some locations such as hairdressers are open and require a proof of testing no older than 48 hours to enter. It is wonderful that everyone can get tested easily. There have been some large locations providing mass testings and recently even pharmacies offer that service. Now there are even locations that offer testing without a health insurance card. The picture above shows such a location on Mariahilferstrasse. All antigen tests are free of charge. There is also a plan that every person will be able to receive 5 free tests a month to perform at home. The government’s slogan now is “Testing, testing, testing!”. I think it is a good method. Since the start of the Covid pandemic, the total number of tests (PCR and antigen combined) for the whole country is 13.420.960 and the total for Vienna is 2.884.696 (official government statistic from February 22nd, 2021)
Today (February 16th) around 2 AM I woke up and noticed that it was rather bright outside. I thought it was strange because yesterday evening during a walk I saw the crescent moon in the Western sky, which should have already sunk below the horizon. Its light was rather weak and could not illuminate the earth like a full moon. I can only assume that it is white outside, it is snowing! I got up and opened the curtain to look outside. It was in fact snowing a little bit but there was not a lot covering the ground. What I found strange was that the sky appeared white. Evene though it was the middle of the night, the buildings around were clearly visible. I imagine white nights to be similar to this. Those of course happen in Summer at much more Northern latitudes than here in Vienna if we talk about the Northern hemisphere. I forgot that I was only wearing a pyjama and barefeet and without noticing it I was looking outside for a while. Maybe there were some similar bright nights before then but here in the city there is only a small part of the sky visible between buildings and maybe until now I haven’t properly looked at it. To me it appears that the sky has its belly full of snow kids hanging down low and the white colour is reflecting the city lights… I do not know. Somehow it seems strange to me.
Recently at a supermarket in Vienna sweet potatoes are being sold. Until a few years ago it was very difficult to buy them here in Vienna. In Japan sweet potatoes are very common and that is why it felt unfamiliar to me.
More than 10 years ago when my friend from Kochi came to Vienna for sightseeing she brought with her a sweet potato. Our common friend who had studied in England told her that sweet potatoes are not common in Europe and that she should bring one for me. Indeed she brought a big one, which was carefully wrapped in a cloth, all the long way to me. When she carefully opened the cloth, to my eyes it looked like a sleeping and well-cared for baby with a bright shine. I felt her deep friendship and still I remember that moment, which warms my heart. At home I made tempura from it and ate it with a feeling of gratitude.
“Sweet potato tempura” is regarded as a specialty from Kochi. Having been born and raised there, I used to think of it as a regular food. Supermarkets almost always sell “sweet potato tempura” but I heard that outside Kochi province that is not usual. Cut in thick pieces and fried in tempura dough. Very simple and tasty.
In Kochi there is also another specialty made from sweet potatoes. That is “Imo Kenpi”. Sweet potatoes are cut into sticks, fried and coated with sugar glazing. Recently there has also been a salty version of it.
My mother loved to eat sweet potatoes very much. In a big steampot she cooked several pieces at once and with great joy she exclaimed “sweet potatoes! sweet potatoes!”. In that moment my mother automatically switched to Tokyo accent. In her childhood she spent some time there and probably that food called forth beautiful childhood memories of that time and she seemed rather childlike in that instant. My mother said that back then there were many sweet potato street vendors.
By the way, the most common type of sweet potato in Japan is of yellow colour inside. The type sold at supermarket in Vienna is more of an orange colour inside and the taste is also somewhat different. Recently I heard that sweet potatoes contain very healthy and beneficial nutrients and eating them is highly recommended. I try to prepare them in different styles and tastes at home. Furthermore when I see sweet potatoes I always get a feeling of nostalgia which feels quite good. Today at the supermarket I took one in my hand and with a feeling like maybe holding jewelry I put it in my shopping basket.