Jul 28, 2014

Four Japanese and a Conversation

Waiting at airports, especially for late night International flights is not one of my favorite activities. The wait always seems interminate, there is nothing to do and I can never fall asleep in the waiting lounge as most people tend to do.

But sometimes things happen that not only liven up the wait but give you something to chuckle about for a long time. And also provide very good material for a blog post !

So, I was sitting at the Indira Gandhi International Airport waiting for my flight to Tokyo. I was bored and listless and couldn’t concentrate on my book.

Then four Japanese trooped in and sat down in the empty chairs opposite me. From the cameras slung around their necks and the travel guides in their hands it was evident that they were tourists.
 Once they were settled in their chairs and had arranged their hand luggage neatly around them, two of them did what all Japanese do when they have time to kill. They fell asleep. I have always marveled at the ability of the Japanese to instantly fall asleep where ever they are. They sleep in airport lounges, in buses, in planes and I have even caught a few napping while standing in the very crowded Japanese trains.

The third one promptly opened his backpack and started searching for something inside it.

The fourth, living up to the true name of all Japanese tourists pranced about the lounge taking random photographs. The Japanese take their trips very very seriously and believe in documenting every single thing. So you will see a Japanese tourist clicking pics of everything from the picturesque Taj Mahal to a dog irrigating the flowers in a public garden.

Our friend started off by clicking the pics of the washroom entrances. A portly Punjabi aunty came out of the ladies just as he was about to click and she glared at him ferociously. Our friend however was not to be deterred and he continued to go clickety click. I was totally bewildered by what he was doing till I realized that he was fascinated by the huge cutouts of men and women in traditional Indian attire at the entrances of the washroom. Once he had finished capturing almost all the loos in the vicinity he turned his attention to the planes outside and started clicking them.

Eventually our camera crazy friend settled down. Inspite of the lounge being air-conditioned, he took out a Japanese fan from his bag and started fanning himself vigorously with it. Now please remember that no self-respecting Japanese will ever venture out of his home without a fan. It’s unthinkable, almost an insult to the nation.

He shifted in his chair and complained loudly of the heat. The remaining two Japanese continued to nod over their chests and the third one continued to burrow inside his backpack. No one paid him any attention. Bored, he looked around him moodily. Suddenly his eyes fell on me sitting quietly in my corner, reading.

He looked at me and looked away. Then looked at me again. I glanced at him and embarrassed, he quickly turned away. But he continued to cast furtive glances towards me from behind his fan. He must have been very curious about me because unlike the majority of their Indian counterparts, staring at women is not something Japanese men usually do.

Finally he turned to his friend and said “I say, Abe San, There is this girl sitting across you. Do you think she is an Indian”

Abe San, for that was presumably the name of the backpack burrowing Japanese simply grunted and kept searching in his Backpack for only he knew what. The other two Japanese continued to doze.

After a few more sidelong glances at me, he nudged the backpack- burrower again. “Well what do you think?” Abe San grunted and finally looked over at me. “I don’t know” he said and resumed his burrowing.

By this time one of the sleeping Japanese had woken up. So our curious friend leaned over to him and asked “What do you think Yamamoto San, that lady .. is she Indian?” Yamamoto San turned his bleary eyes towards me and took me in for a moment. “I don’t think so. Look how tall she is and Indian women never keep their hair so short”.

This observation made the backpack burrower stop rummaging in his backpack and he joined his friends in their speculation.

“She might be European” he declared. Then ensued a very interesting discussion that encompassed everything from my eyes, to my height, my skin color and a few other things in between.

What the Japanese of course didn’t know was that since I have spent five years of my life studying their national language I could understand each and every word of what they were saying. I sat there torn between indignation and fighting an irresistible urge to laugh.


The conversation went on and on. Our camera toting friend was sure that with my black hair and eyes I was not European but I definitely didn’t look Indian. He was now wondering aloud if I might be from Russia.

The Bleary eyed Japanese scratched at his day old beard meditatively and said, ”She might be Russian. I had a Russian colleague once. Very tall those people.”

All this while I was sitting there biting the insides of the cheeks to prevent myself from laughing out loud.

The fourth Japanese, who had also woken up and had been listening avidly to the discussion but not participating, suddenly piped up and said “I think she must be from Afghanistan”.

That did it. I knew if I waited for even a few minutes more I would be rolling on the floor laughing. I had to put an end to this.

So I casually turned to them and said in Japanese “You know all of you are wrong, I am from India”. And then I gave them an angelic smile and asked, “And how did you find my country?”

The effect this had on the Japanese was priceless. Our friend, who was vigorously fanning himself, literally jumped and dropped his fan on the floor with a loud clatter. The others just froze. Their surprise was so genuine that for a full minute they continued to stare at me pop eyed. They had all turned a beet red and their mouths kept opening and shutting comically like fish out of water.
“But, but, how do you know Japanese?” one of them spluttered.

I told them.

If it had been anyone else they would have laughed uproariously at their own stupidity. But not so the prim and proper Japanese. They were mortified. It was as if they had been caught snooping into the women’s changing room. Oh the shame of it! Why doesn't a typhoon come and sweep us all away!

Finally I put them at ease by asking them what all they had seen in India. What followed was a very animated discussion about India and Japan.

All in all, this incident made an excellent start to what turned out to be one of the best holidays I've ever had!

54 comments:

  1. Ha ha. Abe San was right, not many Indian women are as tall and as fair as you are.
    I can imagine you towering a group of five foot nothing Jap men. :)

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    1. Haaa Haa Alka. Yes its a bit weird at times !

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  2. Ha ha, a really entertaining incident! Loved the post!

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    1. Thanks for reading Chatty Wren !

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  3. Loved how you managed to liven up the entire conversation by just turning around and talking to them in Japanese. The looks on their faces must have been priceless :)

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    1. It was priceless ! Thanks for reading.

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  4. I had fun reading this one. Poor guys! What is the probability of finding an Indian speaking Japanese in India? But Afghanistan was too much. Russian, Scottish or even Irish. You know you should have said that you were Japanese. I am sure they would have swooned :-). Fun post, this!

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    1. Rachna, they swooned enough when they realized I could speak Japanese. And with my height it might be a little difficult to believe that I am Japanese :-)

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  5. Loved how you opened your treasure chest of travels to them, and needless to say the expression on their faces must be a million yen ;)

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  6. That was such an entertaining read, Ruch, in your lucid and excellent style, not to mention how entertaining it must have been for real! :)

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    1. Thank you Shail. I was having so much fun at that time !

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  7. Definitely a good start to your vacation. :)

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    1. Oh yes definitely. The vacation as you know turned out to be a super duper hit !

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  8. oh yay!! So thrilled that you did write about the famous conversation!!! This is just hilarious!!! Glad you put them at ease after that...they must have been wanting the floor to split open and swallow them!!!

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    1. Their expressions were comical :-)

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  9. Hahahaha.....You were their delightful timepass,my dear European/Russian/Afghan lady. Why didn't you tell them you are an Afghan princess who had eloped with a Japanese and now lives happily ever after in Defence Colony :p

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    1. Damn Purba ! Now why didn't I think of that then !

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  10. I remember your update of Facebook regarding this incident. Now that you have related it in detail, it is priceless

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  11. Hahaha! And, after you parted, did they think that you were Japanese, despite the height and the looks? :)

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    1. I told them I was Indian Suresh !

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  12. Waah Waah - Thank God I wasn't one of those Japanese :D :D!

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  13. Hahaha.. Such a hilarious and highly entertaining episode. Must have been great fun in real. Love your simple and engaging style of writing.

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    1. Thanks Nandana ! Yes this makes me giggle even now !

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  14. I am rolling on the floor laughing...like literally!!!!

    I saw ur status on fb and was so wishin u wud spring the surprise on them!!

    http://www.myunfinishedlife.com

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  15. I am sure you had the time of your life. This is something similar my husband had experienced on plane in 2005 just after our marriage. He was flying back and sitting behind him was the ice hockey junior team which was returning from a tournament. The boys started to guess Kiran's origin. Then after sometime Kiran could not control his laughter and turned back towards the boys and had said in Czech that he was Kiran and from India and glad to have met them :-)
    One of the boys had screamed 'he speaks czech' :-)

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    1. Haa Haa, I can imagine how much fun Kiran must have had !

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  16. Hahaha... What fun when the other side is not aware that you know their language!

    And seriously they take the fan with them :D

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    1. Oh Yes Saru. You will never find a Japanese without a fan !

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  17. Afghani! Hahahahah....
    What a funny and engrossing anecdote this was to read even though I already knew much of it. I am glad the trip started off on a high note like this, and then got even better!

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    1. Thanks for reading Rickie. Yes, this was a very auspicious start to the trip I must say !

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  18. I personally am convinced that you are a Russian rolled into a European Afgani. I think that just about covers it all neatly, leaving no loose ends behind. :D

    This was the funniest post I've read in a month! You really ought to write more often you know. :D

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    1. Thank you Dagny. ! I'll try to be more regular. I miss blogging.

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  19. Beautiful post Ruchira! Enjoyed reading it!

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  20. I lived for a year in Japan and I can totally visualize their faces as I read this!

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    1. Oh you did. How did you find the country Gauri ?

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  21. haha :D You were an object of their fascination my dear lady . I could almost visualize them jumping.

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  22. wow!!.. the way you described the incident is so good.. I can imagine their shocked looks..

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    1. I almost laughed out aloud myself when I saw their shocked faces !

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  23. That was funny. poor fellows, I am feeling so bad for them :) Btw is 'San' a term used to address a person?

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    1. Seeta, yes San is used t o address a person. It is normally used after the sir name.Thanks for reading !

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  24. Excellent! I loved this post!

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  25. My first visit and I enjoyed reading this incident. Hilarious indeed.
    Thanks and regards.

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  26. This incident was hilarious ! I am dying to see the expression of those four.You should have taken a snap of them on camera :D

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  27. What an interesting episode. I can imagine their foolish reaction when they knew the truth. You did well to talk to them in Japanese..

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  28. As usual of your posts. Entertaining, informative and whatnot.

    but this gets me thinking how tall are you? :)

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  29. Haha!! You got me rolling on the floor, quite literally! All this while I am in office and supposed to working :p

    Thanks for sharing the incident.

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

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  30. Hhaahaha. Best thing I've read all day. Hilarious conversation and wonderful articulation to remember bits of glorious detail.

    Travelshoebum

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