Cursing Microsoft in his mind, the weary traveler rebooted his laptop computer, wishing that he could have the 20 minutes back that he just apparently wasted preparing a vaguely clever and even perhaps entertaining synopsis of his 24 hours of travel. Resolved to provide you good people w/ the pleasure of travel prose, he waded in again.
Inside the bullet train rocketing thru the Japanese countryside, he was hot, sweaty, and thirsty. Admittedly, it could be worse, he thought - he could be lost, could have been robbed blind (and runs that risk at time of writing), could have hurt an ankle or shoulder carrying his heavy luggage up the stairs, or a dozen other things. As it happened, the worst thing so far was having missed his originally-intended train and having to wait for one 40 minutes later. But first things first...
Having bid a fond farewell to a very close friend at the DFW airport, the traveler swallowed a lump in his throat that had treacherously returned (said lump having been banished w/ difficulty upon saying good-bye to his family the previous evening) and put on his traveling game face. Boarding the plane to the capital of the ALF (American Lunatic Fringe, to the uninitiated), San Francisco, he made pleasant conversation w/ a pretty Indian lady in her early 30s, one of 4 sisters, 3 of whom had been disowned and deemed incommunicado by a family upset at their marrying non-Indians or Indian men outside of their higher caste. After watching the inflight movie, the traveler resisted the urge to fatigue the carpet on the already well-worn mental path of reflection on the hopelessness and pointlessness of the postmodern dating scene, where a viable relationship begins w/ a glance and a sexual tryst inside an airplane lavatory.
At SFO, the traveler settled down for a 3-hour layover, spending half of it slumped in the chair w/ an MP3 sermon in his headphones and most of the other half flat on his back on the floor w/ said sermon playing, a fresh pocket-pack of Kleenex serving as a pillow (as said traveler has a flair for the functional and unassuming). Disheartened at the sheer volume of fellow passengers in the huge 777 that would convey them all to
Last into a tram from the gate to the immigration terminal, the traveler was first down the stairs and in line. Wisely resisting the urge to laugh when asked if it was OK if a young immigration official searched one of his suitcases, the traveler passed thru w/o incident and set about the hard part of the journey – traveling in-country. First, he exchanged his wad of American cash to an equally large wad of Japanese cash, which made him antsy, as he prefers flashing a credit card to a wad of bills. Directed by helpful airport employees, he found the train to the train station easily and grabbed a water bottle from a nearby snack kiosk. Finding it pleasantly Gatorade-flavored, he turned to a nearby man who had bought the same and ventured an “E desne?” To which the man nodded, saying “Yeah, ‘s’good.”
Into the Shin-Osaka train station, the traveler recognised a few Americans from the airport here and there but was truly become a stranger in a strange land. Kiosks with expensive and malnutritive snacks as well as numerous gates for train quays and ticket windows were the order of the day. Everywhere, Japanese! Hmm, what did you expect, right? Older men in Western suits w/ no tie, a surprising number of young men in snappy black suits, girls in pants and sharp-pointed pumps, other guys w/ bossa-bossa hair (for bossa-bossa, see here) and tank tops w/ English slogans: “The Last Supper;” “Energize the night;” “Disko, swing, house,
Another person + two big suitcases + guitar + the obvious attitude from the other passengers of “don’t even think about it, gaijin boy” = no dice.