Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Old people eat alone too. They wait for tables at classy restaurants, take their lonesome seats, place their orders to disbelieving waiters and stare into the distance.

On particularly busy days, the maƮtre d', always keen to maximize the turnover of his tables, pairs singles together and I find myself across Father Time himself, a wizened old man who solves the crossword in the local tabloid (that local tabloids carry crosswords is a discovery in itself; I imagine clues have answers like "boobs" and "sex-tape").

We eat quietly. Our silence is comfortable like the silence of old lovers. As he rises to leave, he looks at me and says with a mischievous glint in his eye, Your food was very colourful.

I grin and bid him farewell.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

picnic at hanging rock

You were the designated bar pimp, with a job description that entailed hollering at passers-by to enter your employer's shady haunt. You were Australian, as was most of the bar clientele, bored expats making eyes at other bored expats to the songs of Men at Work and INXS.

As I walked by, you began your pitch. The drinks were great, you said. Plus, there were plenty of girls. And karaoke, that princess of Japanese recreation. Would I care to have a look, sir?

Only if you give me the answer I want, I replied. Are you a Mark Waugh or a Steve Waugh man?

I look forward to meeting you again.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I was slumped over the sake when you waltzed in. You were American, a typically garrulous sort, and she was Japanese. You said she was your wife. I believed you. The fumes of my hot sake were getting to me. Hot sake is a different cup of tea from the cold variety. You trusted me on this, even though you did proceed to order the strawberry flavour. Come to think of it, this was probably what convinced me that she was your wife.

We spoke of Noh and Akihabara and Kyoto. And Kawabata and Yasujiro Ozu. Bartender-san flailed his arms wildly at this. No-no, it's Ozu Yasujiro, he said (and he was right, of course). You were sadly unaware of Setsuko Hara and Donald Ritchie and Pico-san, though. You had your limits, and I pointed this out.

Yet, you were kind to enough to warn me against Shinjuku (even if I ignored your warning). Before you left me to my inhalations, you handed me your copy of Fodor's Tokyo. It still stands today on my desk at home, you'll be glad to know, a symbol of everything I once had and everything I have lost.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

harold and maude

She loved watched them take-off and land at night. In her child-like wonder, they were always aeroplanes to her, never something pedestrian like planes or airplanes or flights.

Towards the very end, as she lay in a false convalescence on her second-class hospital bed by the window, she watched them wide-eyed with her daughter and reminisced about the good times. The aeroplanes made her spirit soar. After all, the astrologer had told her she would die at 67. She would be flying soon herself, window-shades up and seat-belt fastened, another receding light on the horizon.

This made her happy.

About Me

a recluse waiting for salvation