Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Boeinging from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

Returned from Japan into the Lazy Daze motor home, located in Riverside, California, USA, to be seen behind is a trail of impressive events.

The last day in Tokyo was spent with the beautiful Tomomi and it is such a privilege to be in the presence of a Japanese lady like she is.
So attentive, so considerate, so sweet, so high style, so good of heart, so generous, so lovingly, so unselfish.
Fervent and loyal blog readers may ask if the successor of the Princess has been met but this Japanese Empress should not loose her time with this pioneering and globetrotting photographer.
The Empress deserves much better.
And this thought and conclusion made the lunch a depressing experience.
Having met in Tokyo an exceptional person like Tomomi, so good a human being and so beautiful a woman can be, but having to realize that a life of coming and going never makes it possible to learn in the longer term what it truly could all mean for both. It is like falling off a steep cliff.

The Dutch Governess during childhood used to sing:

“Oh was ik maar dood,

die ik liefheb die krijg ik toch nooit”.

“Oh, I wish I was dead,
The one I love I will never get”.

Tomomi emphasized her sweetness by offering a present.
An earth ware goblet in the traditional Japanese style.
From now on, every morning, the strong black tea will be served in this gift.
To vividly remember her.
And feel flashes of strong sentiments.

Goodbye was at Ueno station.
In a way unusual for Japan.
In between all the many Japanese persons hurrying here and there, an embrace in a delicate but forceful way that was wished to last forever.
It brought to mind the unforgettable words of the David Bowie song “Heroes”:

I

I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins
Like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing
Will keep us together
We can beat them
For ever and ever
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
I
I will be king
And you
You will be queen
Though nothing, nothing
Will drive them away
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be us
Just for one day.

I
I remember
Standing
By the wall
The guns
They shot above our heads
And we kissed
As though nothing could fall
And the shame
Was on the other side
We can beat them
For ever and ever
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
We can be
Heroes
Just for one day

From Ueno station is a train to Narita airport.
Intimidated by life, after the forceful but cruel goodbye of Tomomi, and therefore almost in tears, an incredible thing happened.
These days, a book by Ernest Hemingway is deeply enjoyed called “For whom the bell tolls”.
A fabulous book.
Every word, every sentence drinks like nectar.
In this train to Narita Airport a Japanese man enters, opens his bag, takes out a book and starts to read.
It is Ernest Hemingway’s “For whom the bell tolls”.
How high is the chance for this to occur ?

Checking in for the American Airways flight at Tokyo’s Narita Airport to Los Angeles a barrage of questions asked by the ground stewardess.
How long to stay in the USA ?
Having a return ticket to Europe ?
Proof of owning a motor home ?
Mr. S. P. (serious paranoia) laughing in the background inspiring thoughts like being refused entry into the USA and being sent back but to where?
Having to be in limbo for the rest of the life maybe?

Things got worse when seated in the fully booked American Airlines Boeing 777 next to an American woman who is the wife of a US soldier recently based at US military facilities in Okinawa, Japan.
Imagine that in the United States there would be German soldiers having military bases in let's say 9 different States.
Coming and going as they please.
Being above the national US-laws.
Having the weapons as they like, including nuclear bombs.
That would be totally unacceptable.
The USA is a democracy.
Is independent.
No foreign troops would ever be allowed to have bases on American territory.
Japan being a democracy, Germany being a demcocracy, Italy being a democracy, why is it politically tolerated that American troops are based there ?
In Germany for example there are 9 American military bases with over 100.000 military personnell.
In Japan there are 6 American military bases with over 40.000 soldiers.
The facts are that in 135 countries worldwide the USA has troops on over 294 military installations.
In Japan continuously there are strong protests against the continuing presence of American troops.
The same goes for Germany and Italy.

Obviously, the wife of the American soldier stationed in Okinawa is aware of the controversy and the delicate situation she is in.
Learning that the passenger sitting next to her originates from Europe made her immediately defensive and agressive.
But soon something magical happened.

The stewardess had already come by to inquire if a vegetarian meal was indeed requested.
A few minutes later she returned to inform that more to the front a very comfortable seat was available.
The wife of the American soldier occupying Japan was said goodbye and a window seat immediately behind bussiness class with miles of leg space, low noise and the neighbouring seat unoccupied made the flight like a bussiness class experience.

It was then that it was realised that things in life had turned for the better.
Already Mr. S. P., responsible for the serious paranoia about having immigration trouble entering the USA, was seen moving away.
It was believed everything would go without a problem.
And so it did.

After a most comfortable flight of only 9 hours, arrival was in the well organised terminal 4 of Los Angeles International Airport and Officer O'Donnell was on duty.
"Good morning !"
"Good morning, how are you today ?"
"Very well, had a comfortable flight. How about yourself?"
"Good, good. You are coming to the USA for bussiness or for pleasure?"
"For pleasure"
" OK. Please put your left index finger on the scanner. Now the right index finger. OK. Your picture. Fine. (Stamping passport) Enjoy your stay in the USA !"
"Thank you, officer O'Donnell".
Without any problem and in all friendliness and respectful courtesy a visa was obtained to be able to enjoy the USA for the next 3 months.
Bravo Officer O'Donnell.

Within 30 minutes after getting out of the plane good friend Jochen could be called to arrange the pick up.
For this the information counter was approached where a most friendly young man made the telephone available to call Jochen.
"You don't need to go to a pay phone. Let me call the number of your friend for you".
Welcome to the USA.
The man of information was from the United Kingdom and supersweet. The long chat which followed was about life and its essentials and parting was with a warm handshake like friends.
Amazing experience after having been in Japan where people keep much more distance.

It is good to be back.

****************************************


For more information about the presence of American troops in foreign countries, click on:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/usarj.htm

http://www.germany.info/relaunch/info/publications/infocus/bases/bases.html

http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance8.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4292269.stm

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're not a German spy, are you?

Anonymous said...

All of these countries that have a US military presence do so by their own choice. Any of them could at any time as sovereign nations ask the US to withdraw our forces and we would do so. For example, if S. Korea and Japan were willing to bear the total cost in terms of arms and personnel to defend themselves against possible aggression by N. Korea there would be no need for a US presence there. In spite of the protests of some of their citizens, these countries welcome the presence of the US military because we protect them and our presence serves to stabilize the region.
I would guess that the American soldier's wife was not the aggressive one in your exchange with her--you were. You probably said that her husband was an "occupier" or some such nonsense. The fact is that her husband is serving so far from his home because the Japanese government requested his presence!
And to quote from the link you gave:
"Germany is interested in maintaining a substantial presence of US forces in the country and continues to be a welcoming and cost-effective location for American troops in Europe."
The resentment and constant harrassment of American military personnel who are serving in these overseas locations sometimes makes us want to just say: "OK, we'll leave and you can go to hell." But the foreign governments aren't ready to let their citizens "go to hell" so quickly, so they continue to plead with our government to station our troops there.

Anonymous said...

Like most liberals you demonstrate naiveté and an extreme lack of knowledge concerning the US military and our government's relations with other governments. It’s easy to get the impression that you hate the USA – why do you want to spend so much time here?

Anonymous said...

Dude, you are way out of line here. The second poster has it right, US Forces are there by request of those particular countries.
I spent over eight years in the Air Force and five of those years were spent overseas, in Europe and all over Asia including your beloved Japan.

For the most part the people were grateful for the American presence in the defense of their country, especially in Europe during the Cold War. The Europeans knew all to well what their fate would have been otherwise.

One other thing, at one time there were over forty thousand U.S troops stationed in Thailand, the Thai government asked the U.S to remove their military presence, (in 1975) we were gone sixty days later, so, we are in those countries at their request.

I don't like your use of the word "occupiers ", you sound like one of those entitled, we are so much better than you Europeans that float around the U.S with your oh so smug mindset. For the most part your blog is entertaining, but don't be so full of yourself, after all, you're free to reside and visit elsewhere.

Jo Wishnie said...

This comment is for all the cowardly anonymous commentators. While I respect Michel's choice to allow you to post anonymously, it is after all his blog, I cannot read with any credibility what you have to say. If you think you are so superiorily correct, you should have the courage to sign your name. Otherwise your comments are meaningless.

Michel, I very much enjoy your blog. Whether you are deliciously describing places you are visiting, or sharing deep philosophical thoughts, I find your perspective refreshing and interesting.