Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Today I saw a man walking through the park with a steaming mug of coffee or some other hot drink which produces steam. I was sitting there and he walked right on past me and out of sight. It reminded me of the time a guy got on the tram with a large bowl of tasty-looking risotto. Not a take-away container - an honest-to-goodness ceramic bowl probably worth about twenty bucks from House or a bit less from IKEA. This was a home-cooked meal somebody had made which was now being eaten on public transport.

In both instances, what gave me a faraway stare (which could easily be confused for some kind of petit mal) was wondering about the A to B trajectories of these people. They're not like the woman who sometimes sits in the park with a mug of cocoa and then takes her empty vessel back home. She's just having a break. The man with the mug was going somewhere. He left a point where it was possible to make a nice blue mug of hot something and was going somewhere that would accommodate a fellow turning up with said drink. The risotto experience is more to the point - if I made a nice big bowl of risotto here at home, I can't imagine taking it on a tram anywhere. I could catch a tram a few stops to a friend's house, but then I'd be standing there with a big dirty bowl and no excuses. I kind of wish I was the sort of person to make a nice meal and then walk through the streets eating it, safe in the knowledge that my destination had a sink.

This post is going nowhere, so here's something else.

I was thinking today about a day I had not so long ago where I said one word. 24 hours, and I only said one word.

It was after I'd arrived in Handa city in Japan. Handa isn't really a city. It's more like Doncaster. I had to spend a few days there on my own.

Handa's claim to fame is that certain streets smell like vinegar due to the centuries-old vinegar factories which still operate in the area. As I was walking the streets of Handa I suddenly thought "hey, there's that vinegar smell they go on about in the local tourism websites" and knew this was probably a thought I would never have anywhere else in the world. Handa hasn't got a lot going for it.

One day in Handa I decided to walk up a hill. It was a pretty steep hill lined with nondescript houses and the occasional shop. After about half an hour of walking I found myself in a park and in the park I found a monkey enclosure. This wasn't a zoo. It was a local park, smaller than a Melbourne city block, but for some reason there was a big cage with a couple of monkeys hanging around scratching themselves. Next door was a series of pens housing bored-looking ducks and a flamingo. That was all. It was a nice park, otherwise.

Then I kept walking along through the streets at the top of this hill. The houses were pretty and many had big carp kites to celebrate Children's Day. At one point a very old woman rode past on a bike and said "konichiwa". I said "konichiwa".

That was the only word I said that day.

1 comment:

Chris Boyd said...

I came to the rescue of pretty little baby chimp in a place in Laos last year. It was a restaurant (how odd that word is when describing a place without walls or flooring). TCB & I were the only customers (ditto on the choice of words) cos every sane person was having a siesta at that hour of the avo.

The pet 'minky' got hopelessly strangled up in his/her chain. Literally dangling, unable to reach anything to hang onto.

When I came to the rescue, I was chewed on. Appreciatively. Even lovingly. I asked TCB to take a photo for posterity. "This is the moment" -- I told her -- "I contracted Rabies."