Teaser 350: I Think I’m Turning Japanese


Kejnu and Miko worked together but Miko sent me the list. Japan is still a predominantly patriarchal culture but Miko had such a thorough reputation, and this was right up her alley, I replied to her email and asked her to be my agent. I would, of course, pay her for her time. Miko responded she wouldn't accept anything from me and phrased it this way. “You asked us to invest in your movie and we did so enthusiastically, especially with your generous offer of return. You paid us every dollar of it, Al-Barrak, yet we know you and your owners have made practically nothing from it. Kejnu and I both agree. We owe you...so don't offer to pay me again.”

I replied, “Stop twisting my arm so tightly, Miko! It hurts!”

Miko replied, “Ha-ha! So we're all in agreement. Good! I'll get started today. And give my love to all your wonderful family. Come and see us soon, please.”

It would have to be a big house and this feature you don't find very often in Japan and as a rental almost never. I agreed we could take two but I would prefer they be separated only by a few minutes drive. Miko suggested I send the full list of all who I intended would live with me. Chodak and his family, his friend and family, would all be staying in the house in Jalandhar. As refugees recently granted the right to stay in India it would be too difficult to try to get permission for entry to Japan as resident aliens. If we pressed the Japanese they might relent but both Chodak and his friend worked regularly for India Ventures, though much of the time I paid them personally. The men often performed construction work and often with Ranjit's crew wherever they were working, but all walked down to the apartment to tend the gardens and animals almost daily. I was content to let them continue it uninterrupted. Everybody else was going, or most. There were four wives initially because Serena was still deciding, and Tanya would visit only occasionally. She was not living there. There were Jacob, Jim and Heinz. Miko advised Japan would consider my driver's family as tourists.

As this began to creep along, Sofia rushed over one morning and announced they were all going too. “I want to be a Geisha girl! You promised!” I did, so I added Serena, Sofia, Carla, and Lance. This made it necessary to add Brenda and Kaela plus the German pilots, but Miko advised those four would be considered tourists also. Miko's negotiations with the Japanese consulate produced one snag and it concerned Jinpa. She was still considered a Chinese resident by most of the world, though I had yet to experience any problem getting her into any country temporarily so far, but residing as an alien in Japan raised concerns for the Japanese. They wanted to avoid an international incident with China. I had to send a copy of the papers from the Chinese official from Dabaxiang recognizing my marriage to Jinpa, which Indian authorities had already accepted. This, however, created a bit of concern from some in Japan, because I could legally be shown to be married to two separate women and many Japanese officials frowned on this sort of thing.

I asked Miko, “What can I do?”

“The official I have been talking with suggested this to me, Al, when he saw the copy of your marriage papers from the Chinese. Instead of declaring Jinpa as your wife, declare her your housekeeper. They will have no reservation granting her status as a resident alien.”

“Thus dancing around the whole issue. Okay. If it satisfies the Japanese, that's what we'll do. Now we can get with finding a place or two or however many.”

“I already have two, Al. I'm waiting for pictures. I'll forward them to you as soon as I receive them.”

The first was a relatively large house—relative for Japan, though it was three stories with eight bedrooms, but the bedrooms were tiny—in Anamizu in an area called Yuigaoka and within a short walking distance of Yuhigaoka Park and the Shinto Shrine, both right on the bay. The second was even more of a surprise. The realtor Miko was working with, the only woman on their list and whose name was Sakura, apparently knew a whole lot about me, knew of my trip to Tibet, the international incidents which came from it, knew I had a relatively close relationship with the Big Chief, so, as a hunch, she contacted the highest authority of the Buddhist Temple barely five miles from Anamizu. When the temple authority heard my name he offered a small cottage operated by the temple as my residence for as long as I wished. When I heard this from Miko, I thought, man, is it good to have friends in high places. On top of all this there was a public airport less than ten miles from either house with a tarmac plenty large enough to park the jet and the airport authorities were more than willing to help provide whatever necessary security we requested, some of which we would have to reimburse them, but they were extremely accommodating. They explained to Miko they were the major air destination for private jets flying into the area. It was routine for them. Perfect.

The pictures were convincing and Serena liked the house in Yuigaoka so she agreed to pay for its rental. I would take the small cottage near the Buddhist Temple, we would work out who would stay where when we got there, money transfers were performed and all was arranged. I told everyone to bring winter apparel since it will be chilly for the first few months and we'll almost assuredly get snow. It put a damper on Serena's enthusiasm until I proclaimed with all in attendance, “Oh, a little snow is not going to put out your fire, you little Mexican firecracker. You're not convincing me it's that easy!”

Sofia exclaimed, “I want to throw a snowball at Papi!”

“All right!” Serena shouted. More calmly she added, “Why do I have frequent second thoughts about marrying you, Al-Barrak?”

“Because you vacillate,” I replied calmly, amid much laughter and Serena's angry expression.

“And what does that mean?” she demanded.

“Esperanza?” I asked, turning to her. Esperanza explained what “vacillate” means in Spanish and Serena stared at me with mock spite.

“Yes, I do go back and forth with you, Al-Barrak, because you leave me no choice.”

“Come to Japan, my beloved, and be my Geisha woman, so when it's freezing, you can deliver your frozen expression and announce, 'I will sleep with you some time this spring and don't you even touch me until then!'”

To which Serena immediately fired off, “Count on it!”

Tanya had taken more than a few days since she stayed while all the arrangements were being made to leave for Japan. Franz called her once and asked her if I was present since he wanted to speak with me. Tanya handed me her phone with obvious enjoyment.

“So, Al-Barrak,” Franz began, “when can I expect my top Munich administrator to return to her official and necessary diplomatic duties, and do remember you are speaking with a top minister from Germany?”

I laughed, even though Franz said it in as authoritative a manner as possible. “I'll tell you what, Franz. The next time I'm in Berlin I'll don my blue robe and yellow turban and stroll into your office to demand an immediate counsel with you and you will immediately excuse yourself from whomever so you can see me with your own eyes in my spectacular Arab clothes and watch me grovel before you.”

Franz laughed uproariously. When it passed he got serious. “When can I expect Tanya's return?”

“We anticipate flying to Japan in three days, Franz. All our housing is arranged. It should be a short matter to clear customs and each residence is within ten miles of the airport, so we should all be settled in by the next day. While Tanya's in Japan, is there anyone you'd like her to meet with?”

“Let me talk to Tanya about that.” I handed the phone back to Tanya and between the two of them they scheduled several diplomatic meetings with officials all over Japan. We really hadn't settled in much when all of us flew to several destinations on the main island, including Tokyo, at which our little woman, Sofia, marveled along with everyone else. Most had never been to Japan and Serena had only traveled there to promote movies so her stays there were tightly coordinated and very abrupt. Jacob and Jim had both been there many times and we often let them show everyone around. They certainly knew many of the more picturesque and interesting places to see and experience. Two weeks later Tanya, Brenda, Kaela, and the pilots flew to Van Nuys for the two servers and the jet flew from there to rest at its Munich port, while we all settled into a very comfortable and quite different and exciting home, temporary as it would be.


- Just Desserts, Segment Forty-FiveAdvances and Retreats” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com