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Chronograph

Sometimes you are reminded of things… Things that have become part of who you are, part of what you are. These are not things that you think about every day or even every month but, sometimes, you are just struck by how much you miss something. I have been too busy commuting between jobs to think about much recently, but tonight while sitting one of my twice-weekly Japanese lessons it struck me how much I miss Asia.

When I’m in Asia I’m more European than I am while in Europe. Perhaps not, perhaps being in such a different society heightens self-awareness. I can, for example, sit on a train in Sweden, Demark, the United Kingdom or Spain reading a book and pass as a reasonably intelligent resident – someone who fits in well enough not to be worth repeated consideration. Whether in Korea, Japan, Taiwan or Hong Kong I stand out. No matter what I do it’s very clear that I don’t “quite” belong.

Yet, in some ways I feel more at home in Asia than I do in Europe. Japan is certainly more homely than Spain for me. Then again, I consider anything less well-organised than Switzerland or Norway to be a truly barbaric place unworthy of respect or serious regard. At times, I admit, even Britain can be a bit loud and rowdy for my tastes.

I thought this evening of glorious sunrises over the eastern Japanese coast – Amaterasu emerging for the day. I thought of sunsets over Japan’s plains, over Japan’s mountains – Amaterasu bids her adieux and gives way to Apollo and his chariot. I suddenly found myself thinking about the humidity, the sweltering heat of the South China Sea. The green mountains, the clang of the Ding Ding on Hong Kong Island, the glorious light of an autumn afternoon in Taiwan.

I miss it and I long for it. I find no charm in Senegalese touts, “nuevos zapatos Nike, nuevos zapatos Adidas, todos baratos”!!! Bloody irksome, they pile their knock-off goods on blankets in the Metro, by every way out – just out of sight of authorities. Naturally, everyone knows what happens – CCTV cameras are everywhere as terrorism is a real threat in Spain. Yet, no one does anything about it. They’re harmless, one supposes, and certainly less irksome than the detritus washed up on Spain’s shores from Romania and Bulgaria. The most deformed Gypsies, unwashed, unkempt highlighting their maladies, crippled limbs and grotesque disfigurements screaming out for alms, saying “gracias, muchisimos gracias” in advance. I am eternally grateful to those Spaniards who call them out on their antics and tell them to “bugger off”.

Of some annoyance are buskers, some Spanish, many Andean. In small carriages they trap us, turn us into their captive audience. Some are marginally tolerable – not enough for me to open my wallet, mind you, but just enough to not wish to toss them in front of the next speeding train. “Bloody well, play your rudding pipes. I don’t want to listen to Veronica Maggio or Sky-Hi, I only had them playing on my MP3 player until you could bless me with your presence. Please, never leave me again. I just can’t bear the thought”. Such things don’t happen in the more civilised parts of Asia. They would be stopped.

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Categories: General
  1. christinaosborne
    June 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    They are stopped here too!
    Trouble is christopher, wherever you go to you seem to complain! I have a degree of sympathy with this syndrome as I do exactly the same. Especially in Wales!!!
    I also think the more you stay away from home the less you fit in anywhere.

    As for missing things, mine is a penknife. An extremely sharp folding knife that lives permanently in my pocket. If it has not made it into my pocket for some reason, like it is still on my dressing table, I get totally bent out of shape! One never know when one might want to tie up a tomato or stab someone!
    To be without it makes me quite unhinged. I have been known to carry it in evening bags!

  2. June 4, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Para 4 is a beautiful piece of writing, Christopher. I hope that one day you settle in your Asian paradise.

  3. June 4, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I agree, Mr Cvtrier reminds me of Mr Cook’s ‘letter from America’ from years back.

  4. June 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    CO, I’m not surprised you carry a knife but words at ten paces will normally suffice!

  5. June 4, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    CO: Whingeing is congenital in northern Europe. Spain is not the worst country in the world, not by any means and life here is generally more pleasant than it is in many other countries. I am simply by nature a hideously sensible person who might be even too sober and conservative for my own good! I feel like I’m on a working holiday when I really would prefer to be working. I’ve not had the easiest go of it in the past few years and things have been a series of disappointments and minor catastrophes. Germany was difficult due to its bureaucracy and my being stuck in a rut that ended in a nightmare due to official incompetence. I was caught in the acrimonious collapse of a relationship between two failing organisations in China and was the scape-goat. In Spain I am more successful than most, but am toiling away for little remuneration with many small annoyances. If you’d like, I could write a rant about a flatmate, a Romanian shrew with more than a little of the bovine about her!

    TR: I don’t want to settle in Asia, I simply enjoy being their on holiday and can easily imagine living there for a year or two with repeated visits on a regular basis. The better, civilised parts of Asia are truly remarkable. Japan, for example, is so clean, neat, well-organised and the people are very pleasant. I grew very close to the Japanese and have many experiences with them — some humorous, some friendly, some amorous.

    Janus:The compliment is hardly deserved! I merely write rants, raves, reminiscences and whinge-laced, malice-tainted invectives!

  6. christinaosborne
    June 4, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    C’mon then lets have a vituperative bitch about a Romanian shrew then. I’m sure we are a receptive audience, well, I am! And maybe, just maybe I’ll write a return match about an Albanian criminal with whom I am acquainted in Wales!

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