For Daniela, who knows how to tell a story, but above all, knows how to listen.
I know I haven’t written in ages but let’s just say I had a hard period and needed to learn how to be patient with myself. However. I cannot not write about Japan.
Japan started like a normal family holiday: loads of last-minute bags and chaos. We went to sleep at 1.00 AM and had to wake up two hours later to make our way to the airport. We flew to Paris where we ate breakfast whilst waiting three and a half hours to board. As I would find out soon, the bread I had in Paris would be my last decent bread in the next two weeks.
I am finally in the plane that will take us to Osaka and I already get to meet a Japanese couple. This is due to a rather fussy French lady who couldn’t get uses to the idea of sitting next to a Chinese gentleman for 13 hours. She demands to be moved next to her French friend to my utter relief. This is how I met Masumi-san and Ryuji-san.
She is incredibly talk-active whilst he is more Japanese- like. I will never forget my conversations with Masumi-san. They weren’t TED talks, but she was just as inspiring. She doesn’t speak good English and my linguistic knowledge doesn’t spread that far East (yet). We communicate through gestures and sounds and they are enough for me to understand what places to visit in Kyoto and Tokyo and a bit about her life. Both Masumi-san and Ryuji-san are thirty one and live in Himeji. She works in a boulangerie and they are coming back from their honey moon, which they’ve spent in France and Spain. I have rarely met someone so interested in finding out things. Masumi-san asks me about my family, where I am from, why I’m visiting Japan, about school, my friends, if we have a place to stay in Japan, what we are going to see and do. Everything seems to fascinate her. Inevitably, we end up talking about food and I promise to try Yakitori, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, Tako, Yakisoba, Soba, Udon. I haven’t got the chance to ask her about deserts because she’s watching a movie.
I like her a lot. God. I can’t hold it anymore. Got to go. Call of nature. Write later.
It’s night. I fell asleep after we had something to eat. Masumi-san has fallen asleep as well. I am starting to understand why she’s much more open than Ryuji-san. I guess she has been ‘westernized’ because of her work at the boulangerie. She probably gets to meet more tourists than Ryuji-san.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-HonQmNgsc– If you want to, you can listen to this whilst reading on.
The contrast between her and the other Japanese passengers is almost tangible. Starting from the way she’s dressed (long sport-like skirt, stripped T-shirt, a black beach-like hat) to her energy. The other passengers radiate a calm energy whilst Masumi-san has the energy of a child. And its size. I am sorry I can’t understand her. Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe by restricting my words I do not restrict my feelings. We usually forget to feel a conversation and focus too much on what we have to say. Every time I understand what Masumi-san is saying to me, she smiles and softly claps her hands. I understand her joy and I am proud of myself whenever I make her understand something. It’s the first time I have properly felt a conversation and have been taught joy. Ironically, the lesson comes from a Japanese lady.
Whilst I was queuing up for the toilet, I was struck by a mix of amusement and respect. Pretty much all the Japanese in front of me were wearing house shoes.
The night is black. It’s 8.40 AM in France, 7.40 AM in the UK and 9.40 AM in Romania. But it’s night. I am confused. I know perfectly well why it’s pitch-black outside yet my body feels tense and tired.
I’ve lost track of the passing hours. I am lost in the vast kingdom of time. I notice how addicted I am to the preciseness numbers offer me. At the same time, a feeling of liberation rises from within my soul.
Underneath us is a city. The map says we’re above the Balaton. The puzzle of lights fascinates me. I watch as it slowly disappears beneath a blanket of clouds.
I need the toilet… Again. i am too ashamed to wake up Masumi-san and Ryuji-san to let me through. I need to hold it in. Apparently there are only five hours left. I can do it. I think I’ll go to sleep.