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Travel by Tokyo Metro is an experience. Initially it looks very confusing as compared to the metros in Paris and Stockholm, but once, one gets a hang of things it is indeed a pleasure to travel by it. The Tokyo Metro has come a long way since Tokyo Underground Railway Company opened the first subway section between Asakusa and Ueno. I feel that one can get a bird’s eye view of Japanese society on some sectors, while travelling in the subway trains. Tokyo Metro’s Ginza, Kyobashi, Toranomon, Gaienmae and Aoyama-Itchome stations now present art by Japanese artists. I personally like the ‘Crystal of Light’ work of Tokujin Yoshioka at the Ginza station, who last year designed the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torches. His other work of art at the same station titled ‘Prismatic Cloud’ is also a masterpiece. Another work of art which has held my attention is ‘The White Tigers are Watching’ by Michiko Nakatani at the Toranomon Station. It is not an exaggeration to state that every day is a new experience, a new beginning. And many a time, these new beginnings have a very pleasant end.

Yesterday, I was travelling from Ginza to Hibiya and was seated at a place meant for the elderly, physically challenged or pregnant women. It was a wrong place to be in as ironically, I feel that I am not old as I have not yet touched 70. However, I am mentally challenged to an extent that I am bad in mathematics though at times I am pregnant with ideas which at times are not practical. Maybe, this is due to the Aquarian streak in me.

The compartment was not full and in the opposite seat I could see a person sleeping while another was busy playing a video game on his mobile. A person with a mandolin triggered my desire to play this instrument. It had been my lifelong dream to learn how to play it from the Ayana Institute of Music in Tokyo. On the other side of the compartment, I saw a few more persons taking a nap. Though I had lived five months in Tokyo, I had still not been able to perceive as to how this large segment of Japanese who sleep in the metro get up seconds before their station arrives. I had also seen some of them walking with a mobile phone opened in front of them. One must be careful to not bang into them.

I was enjoying my journey and observing people in the compartment. In the corner I could see a couple seated who did not look like close friends but were conversing with each other. The young man was dressed in a black suit with a blue tie while the girl who looked in her early twenties was wearing a black skirt with a blue top. The Cartier spectacles which the girl was wearing were elegant and seemed to be a part of her personality. The man was shy while the girl seemed confident and fully aware that she was attractive. Maybe the man was trying to gain her attention or woo her. As they were talking in whispers, I could hardly hear them. As if it would have made any difference, as I hardly know any Japanese. The man would often stretch his neck towards the girl while speaking to her while her replies were usually in smiles and nods. I felt that the girl was subtly flirting with him. Allowing him to praise her as well as keeping him away when he showed familiarity. I was enjoying every moment of it. I was a firm believer that like any craft, the art of wooing had to be learnt, imbibed, and nurtured so that you eventually become its master. During the Victorian Age in United Kingdom a ‘Perfect Gentleman’ was one who had mastered this art. I realised that even in the most developed city of the world the art of wooing was the same as it had been decades back during my youth in India. It was not surprising that I recollected the lines of William Shakespeare,

“That man that hath a tongue, I say is no man, if with his tongue he cannot win a woman.”

The train moved from one station to another, and I recollected a day in 1982, when I sat in a park in New Delhi on my first date. It was a pleasant day and quite breezy. Muskaan and I sat on the grass and observed the pleasant ambience. The chirping of the sparrows was musical while squirrels ran around us. We had some peanuts and corn puffs, which we offered to the squirrels and the sparrows. Being close to each other and feeding them had its own pleasure which cannot be expressed in words. At times silence speaks louder than human language. While throwing the peanuts in air with one hand, I placed my other hand on hers. A current ran through our bodies as our fingers embraced each other. More was conveyed to each other through this intimate gesture than we could have done with hours of conversation……….

Suddenly the train stopped with a jolt, and I returned from my world of dreams. Some passengers got out and the seat next to the couple felt vacant. I would have loved to move there but it would have become very apparent. I have a gut feeling that the couple was aware that I was prying on them. The train started with a jerk, and I saw the young man place his hand on the girl’s palm which was lying on her right leg. The girl enveloped his hand and after exerting a little pressure placed his hand on the side and started to open her purse. She took out an engraved mirror and started looking into it to ensure her make-up was fine. I am certain this must have had a titillating effect on the young gentleman. Hence, it is not surprising that in my mind, I quoted Charlotte Bronte,

“Flirting is a woman’s trade; one must keep in practice.”

I could take it no more, as what was transpiring had overwhelmed me. I got up and sat next to the young man. He was surprised by my behavior because privacy in Japan is accorded full respect. I tried to break the ice by asking him,

“Do you speak English?”

He replied, “Not fluently, but I can understand when someone communicates in English.”

I said, “Thank You!”

His natural remark was “For what?”

I said, “Long, long ago I had touched a girl’s hand for the first time after a lot of hesitation and I had received the same response from her. I want to thank you because you have given me back my lost moment.”

As I got up to get down at the next station he asked,

“Are you still in touch with that girl?”

I replied, “We have been married for the last 38 years.”

As I got off the train, I could feel that the young couple was staring at me and pondering about their new beginning, which often germinated while travelling in a metro in Tokyo.

March 24, 2023 18:56

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1 comment

謙太 谷
13:30 Apr 04, 2023

Ok, as a Japanese person myself, this was VERY interesting. I use the Tokyo Metro from time to time and I would love to see this actually happen. WWW!! Anyway, good story and good luck!!


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