Going on a trip abroad just for the sake of sight-seeing is not really my style, especially if it is a solo trip. I need a purpose. In 2018 and 19, two different theatrical plays prompted me to go to a country I had longed to go ―England.
I had taken a liking to the Northern Irish actor Colin Morgan through some drama series, and found out he was going to perform in a play ‘Translations’ in 2018 ,and in ‘All My Sons’ the following year. Exhilarated by the chance to see him in the flesh, I went to London two years in a row and made a point of seeing each play a few times. They were both fantastic. I don’t intend to review them here but I would like to write about how I found the city of my dreams.
During the 2019 trip, I lost my wallet. It contained about ￡50 in cash and my credit card. I was heading to a tea room near Buckingham Palace, where my cousin and his son visiting from Germany were waiting for us (this time I was travelling with my mother). As I was about to pay, I found my wallet was gone. I thought I must have left it in the taxi. Taking the advice from a hotel staff member , I went back to the tea room the next morning to see if the taxi driver had brought my wallet there. I was feeling grim. ‘Of course, no cabbie would kindly deliver it to the place he dropped me off at! Why did I do anything like that? What an idiot!’
I got to the tea room and asked them if they happened to have had a wallet brought in. One of the girls said, ‘ Is this yours?’
OH, MY GOD! There it was! My little wallet in her hand!
It turned out that it was not the cabbie who had brought it there, but a pedestrian! I was too overwhelmed to perfectly understand her account (or it was just my poor listening skills) but she said something along the lines of: ‘A passer-by found it lying on the ground in front of the tea room. She assumed that it might belong to a customer there, so she brought it in. We didn’t know what to do with it but kept it just in case the owner showed up.’
Everything in the wallet was intact. I thanked the workers there more than a few times. But how can I thank the kind stranger?
As soon as I got back home in Japan, I prayed for her eternal happiness to the talisman from Ise shrine.
My mother and I were quite grateful for the kindness of people on the tube as well. Every time we got on, a passenger－mostly men, but sometimes women－got up and offered their seats, sometimes even to me when they noticed that I was with the elderly lady.
Well, in Japan, seats are not given up that easily. Younger people are too absorbed in their phones or they pretend to be. One of my colleagues last year, who was visibly pregnant, said that when she got on the train, no one except one tourist (probably from China) gave up his seat for her.
Sometimes you might even have to fight for a seat. You would see older folks rushing into the train as soon as they spot some vacancy because they are well aware that if they do not, they would be doomed.
Well, to be fair to my country, the chances of getting back lost wallets are quite high－around 90%.
Of course, in London, I also encountered some locals of whom I wanted to ask if they were having a bad day, but both the trips I took were really an eye opener in terms of the kindness and conscience that the people showed us.