|The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1781|
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The solitary traveler's nightmare/1 - Tokyo, Japan
Not for me. Not that I am what you would call an intrepid globetrotter but this kind of misfortunes - maybe because I haven't personally experienced any of them - seem quite unlikely to happen to me.
The nightmare that can cover my forehead with beads of cold sweat, my inexhaustible source of panic, the only reason why I might not want to hang around alone or out of my customary routes, what really frightens me most is the thought of being in a restaurant and after having ordered my dinner - just when I'm about to relax, looking forward to tasting one of my favorite dishes - realizing that I don't have even a cent with me.
It happened to me twice. The first time in Japan, in the outskirts of Tokyo, fortunately not far from where I was staying. That time I managed to finish a whole bowl of beef and rice before putting a hand in my pocket only to fish out the hope to possess a bundle of Yens. As it's often the case in Japan, the cook/waiter/cashier who was standing behind the counter at which I was sitting couldn't speak a word in English: he was just looking at me with a baffled expression while he kept chopping his vegetables with a large knife. I rummaged through my bag and I thanked my good luck when I found my passport inside. I handed it to him and with theatrical and slow gestures I tried to explain that I would be back in no time.
I got home without breathing, I grabbed all the money I could find and I rolled down the stairs. When I entered the restaurant I was purple-faced, soaked with sweat and on the verge of dying of asphyxia, holding a tangled mass of Yens as if it was a relay baton. After I paid, the cook, with the impassible expression of a Kabuki mask, laid down the machete, took my passport from under the table and gave it back to me.
I gave him my passport, I kept thinking while I was walking. My passport...well, in Japan you can trust them, here at least. But then I was at that again: I gave him my passport, my passport...well, if you don't trust somebody even in Japan, then...how could I do that, my passport...