Klaus Stoll

A Trip Almost Forgotten

 

A Trip Almost Forgotten
One of these days, in twenty years say, when the horrors of the Fukushima have ebbed away, I will have to go back to Tokyo to find out if the Japanese are still as orderly and dependable as they have always been and if the bottle of Suntory Whisky still waits for me in that little bar in the Ginza. It was my turn to buy drinks for my Japanese business friends, but as hard as we tried, we could not finish that whole bottle. The bar keeper gave me a pen to write my name on the label and said that he would store the valuable liquid for me until the earth crumbles. Which it nearly did when the recent earthquake joint forces with the Tsunami.
Was it before or after that visit to the bar? I can’t remember. But I remember that plate of raw fish we had at a traditional restaurant in downtown Tokyo that night. Trout or salmon was not good enough for the foreign visitor. It had to be the fish that had that poisonous gall-bladder which, if you eat only a tiny bit of it, kills you instantly. Or so they say. The cook has to train for years before he is allowed to cut ever so thin slices off the delicious meat while avoiding the dangerous parts.
It was at the small hours of the next morning when the pain struck me in full force. The hotel had to call a doctor. The elderly gentleman arrived and listened to my story for a while but his knowledge of English was at a very low level and we struggled along until he saw my green passport on the little table. “Oh, deutsch!”, he exclaimed and began to shower me with German sentences of which I understood little. Much later I leant that in the old days Japanese medical students learnt their profession with the help of German text books, full of specialized words with no meaning in a normal conversation.
My saviour then pulled out an enormous syringe and filled it to the brim with a yellow liquid, which was definitely no Suntory whisky. That, he explained in not so many words, would put me to sleep for many, many hours and I would awake without any more pains. I found a map of Japan in my luggage and by showing him the cities of Tokyo and Osaka, pointing at my wrist watch and drawing a locomotive on a piece of paper, I made him understand that I had to catch the super fast train for Osaka at 12 o’clock sharp. That prompted my medicine man to empty that frightful syringe by about a third before hitting my behind with the dreadful needle.
Low and behold, the timing worked well and I stood on the train’s platform in time for the trip. Having travelled railways in many countries I was amazed to notice that the door of my designate railcar came to a stop at exactly the white mark on the platform where I stood.
Another jab of that strange but helpful liquid at an Osaka hospital brought me safely to Taipeh and its lively market place the next day. Wandering around the stalls I did not shy away from the stand with the live snakes. It was only after the man with the big knife cut into the poor animal with one hand and with the other holding a glass which he slowly filled with the serpent’s blood, that I collapsed on the ground as if hit by lightening. I  woke up, hours later, in a hospital bed.
For me, no more raw fish, no more snake blood. Herring, trout or salmon are good enough for me.
© K.A.H. Stoll

 

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Published on e-Stories.org on 24.06.2011.

 

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