Hidemi’s Rambling by Hidemi Woods

Singer, Songwriter and Author from Kyoto, Japan.

Hidemi’s Rambling No.452

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As a young and stupid teenager, I used to think it’s uncool to travel carrying big bags and suitcases. Before leaving for Europe, I reduced my stuff for two-week trip to a minimum that just fit in my taut bag. That decision made me unable to bring a coat in case it was cold out there. When my mother opposed my light equipment, I confidently declared that I didn’t want to look like a country bumpkin with heavy bags in Europe and I wouldn’t need a coat there. It turned out that I spent the first day in London shivering with cold. My foolish pride wouldn’t let me utter that I was cold, almost freezing. In addition, I had been on bad terms with my mother after the argument over my small luggage and more so since she insulted me about my English at the restaurant. It was impossible now for me to admit I had made a wrong decision and needed a coat. She repeatedly said to me “You’re cold, aren’t you?” and I said, “I’m just fine.” each time. My family seemed to be hit by culture shock and all of us didn’t feel well on the second day in London. We stayed in a hotel room instead of sightseeing. I still didn’t have any appetite and my mother devoured pickled Japanese apricots she had brought from home. In the afternoon, we came to the conclusion that staying in a hotel all day was a huge waste of time and money, and we went to a nearby department store. When we were waiting for an elevator, a middle-aged gentleman spoke to us and offered his employee discount for us. He invited us to the office floor and we took the elevator together. The elevator moved incredibly slowly and my mother started grumbling again. We began to feel uncertain where he was taking us and what he was doing to us. Fear overcame our desire for discount. I told him that we were out of time and we got out of the elevator. In the end, my mother never said she would buy me a coat and I would never asked for it there. We left the department store where a lot of warm clothes were available and I returned to our hotel, shivering…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.451

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From the airport, we were headed for a hotel in London by a charter bus where we were staying for three days. It was still early in the morning and we had a continental breakfast at a restaurant in the hotel, which was included in the package tour. None of us – my parents, my sister and I – knew what a continental breakfast was. After coffee and bread was served, we were waiting for the dish like ham or egg. No matter how long we waited, there was no sign of the dish of course, because it was a continental breakfast. My mother started grumbling and told me to ask our server when it would come. I had attended a Catholic private school that was renowned for its English language education since junior high school and she said she paid high tuition for an occasion just like this. As for me, I myself had thought I could speak English just enough. I asked our server about the dish and instead of answering when it would come, he handed me a menu. My mother said, “You asked for ham, and he gave you a menu! So much for your English!” That upset me badly and I lost confidence in my English totally. In hindsight though, I could have gotten it through to him since we needed a menu to order the dish that wasn’t served as part of a continental breakfast. But at that time, I thought I failed to communicate in English and I got a huge shock. We were out of time and left the restaurant without the dish. The rest of the day was spent for sightseeing in London as a schedule of the package tour. While we went around the tourist attractions by the charter bus, I was dazed all day from my long sleepless hours, jet lag and the shock of my English. On top of that, I had developed a weird symptom. I usually ate a lot but I found I had lost appetite completely since I arrived in London. Although the tour included the gorgeous lunch and dinner, I could eat so little. A sleepless long flight really cost me dearly…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.450

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The first international flight I had ever taken was from Tokyo to London. It was a long time ago enough that coincidentally, the day was when the United Airlines’ first flight to Japan arrived. It was the time when smoking was broadly allowed in the cabin, and I had to fight off constant cigarette smoke from the seats in front of me through the long flight. An overseas travel wasn’t so common then as it is today in Japan and the Japanese carrier served gorgeous in-flight meals for coach passengers. I had never had such delicious meals before. It was also the time when planes can’t fly above Moscow and so we needed to get off the plane at Anchorage for refueling during the 16-hour flight in total. I had wanted to go to America for a long time. When my father first talked about a plan of our trip, I strongly insisted the destination should be America. But a travel agent pressed a tour to Europe that was more expensive, and my father was easily pushed for it. Therefore, the place I had looked forward to most in this tour was Anchorage, which was the only chance to visit America in our trip. I was excited to land in America finally after many years of dreaming. We waited for refueling at a restricted area in the airport for two hours and weren’t allowed to go outside that small area because our destination was London. The area was dark with few somber souvenir stands and a bleak barren sight under the leaden skies spread in the window. Contrary to my expectations, my first America was small and gray. I bought a postcard on which ‘Alaska, USA’ was printed and got back on the plane. As a beginner of a long flight, I hadn’t realized how important sleeping during the flight was yet. I didn’t sleep a wink throughout both flights and arrived in London early in the morning. I noticed my first mistake there. It was much colder in London than in Japan and locals were in coats. I had thought it had the same climate as Japan and was wearing a sweatshirt and a mini skirt. But at that point, I hadn’t known that my sleepless flight would lead to a bigger mistake just yet…

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Hidemi’s Rambling No.449

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When I graduated from high school, my parents and my sister took the opportunity to go on our first trip abroad. We joined a two-week tour of Europe. To take the international flight, we needed to take a domestic flight from a local airport. It was my first flight since I was little. Before taking off, my mother bragged about me entering college to the flight attendants. They congratulated and returned with a small gift and a card that they had written their words together in the galley. I had already had a tendency to be too much scared of a thrill ride by then, and when the plane took off, I found myself screaming. The flight attendants rushed to me, asking if I was all right. Other passengers were looking at me and I was totally embarrassed. I tried taking some comfort in the fact that the plane was near empty and I would never see those few other passengers again in my life. The plane landed at the international airport where we were going to change planes. We met our tour guide at the lobby and he gathered all members of the tour to let us make the acquaintance of each other. There were twelve members besides us. We departed without my screaming this time, and one of the tour members approached me. She was traveling with her daughter who said she knew me. Although I had never seen her before, she knew me so well even my name. It turned out that she was one year younger at the same school I attended. I used to be in a drama club of the school and often appear in school plays. I was somewhat famous at school and that was why she recognized me. She also mentioned that we were on the same domestic flight before this, which meant they were among the few who witnessed my embarrassment. I never thought there was someone who knew me on a near-empty plane. My feeble comfort that I would never see them again shattered and I was to travel with the ones who saw my clumsy panic for two weeks. From the very beginning of the trip, embarrassment after embarrassment chased me…

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