February 28, 2018

Becalmed for a week

The past few blog entries have been mostly rearward looking. I have yet to offer any impressions about our new living space or place. So this post will be the last one for a while chronicling what’s done. It describes a thought-provoking week in a State of Uncertainty before I could leave for the United States. Let’s capture this one just for me, for posterity.

As written in the prior entry we departed India in the evening of October 31 with only a few hours left on our visas. I was on the ground in Tennessee by November 8. The week between was a bit of a blank space. Let me explain:

I recall landing in Tokyo and then taking a 737 that hugged the coastline of Honshu as we veered southwest. The skies were eggshell blue and cloudless. From my window seat it looked like a real-life version of Google Earth because I could recognize the major cities and coastline below. It was a bright, shining welcome back to Japan, our way station until new instructions and visas would move us to the next gig in America.

Naomi’s folks provided their wonderful hospitality. However, we had no cellphones, no landline Internet connection, nor even a notebook computer—all were left in India and need time and a residence to re-acquire. We were thus technology and connectivity naked. I only possessed my permanent private email account and public phones to reach out and annoy someone.
Initially, it was liberating. I did not feel compelled to respond to buzzes and beeps, or check messages.
I felt less connected to the Matrix.
I found time to read silly books like World War Z, An Oral History of the Zombie War and Dolores Claiborne.
No more WhatsApp and email reflex checks!
When Naomi and the girls went out I was alone and disconnected from the world and all its tedious anger.
I took pleasure drives.
I had coffee with a few old friends and just spoke with them without sidelong glances at a phone or whatever gadget drove my day. 
After a few days of wallowing in this beautiful inertia my addled brain registered that it was nigh time to reconnect with the world. I found a new internet café in Hatsukaichi that is less scuzzy than the Popeye I used to frequent. Although it definitely had some semi-permanent residents, it had fewer adult-themed posters on the bathroom walls and smelled less like a college dorm. 
The “business suite” computer/phone/fax rentals offered a comfy chair, printer, and the means to check on my visa status. And so began the next phase of this becalmed week: twice-daily trips to the same internet café to check my email and send replies to my friendly “relocation associate”, Julie, in Texas, and the company’s legal team who were arranging my visa-related paperwork. Julie became an e-friend who offered morale-raising advice and stood by me (figuratively) while we both awaited the two Ps: permissions and paperwork. I sent Julie a note of sincere condolence when 26 people were murdered in mass shooting at a Texas church. It felt more real now that I was bringing my family to the United States. She was one of those people that you meet by chance for a brief time in your life yet leave you lasting memories. She is a nice person who did a tough job on my behalf.

After several days of this email tag, bad coffee, a modicum of angst, and seclusion in my internet cubicle, the message came with my visa waiver information. My flight was set within minutes, and I departed that week of stasis the next morning for Seoul, Vancouver, Seattle, and finally, Tennessee. Another new beginning beckoned.

No comments: