|Me, during the seminar|
By then I realized, that I have waited more than an hour. I reluctantly approached the information desk and requested the lady there to do me a favor. Although she understood my need in advance, I, in my most polite manner still, requested her to announce my name and that a person, waiting for me could kindly come and pick me form the information desk. Another person followed my suit too. His looks confirmed me that he was a Thai national, His round face, some what flattened nose, dark black hair and tropical fair skin said it all to me. On seeing his jacket, he became a subject of more interest for me because the logo on his back read "Customs". I choose not to be explicit about my interest and kept silent
The lady at the information desk proceeded to make the announcements, but faced a difficulty pronouncing the name of a Thai man. I tried to help her out and amazingly it worked. A minute after announcements were made, a pale and exhausted looking lady soon appeared. I saw in her hand, a torn chart paper with my name along with the name of that very Thai man. Before she could even utter a word, I told her that we were waiting for her. But she had her own points to prove to us, She told us that we have come through a wrong channel, (the residents returning) and not through the right channel (Foreigners channel)
She not only dragged our bags but dragged us as well. She warned us about the possibilities of missing a bus to our hotel. We ran helter-skelter down the steps and finally made it to the bus that was about to move. We hurriedly got into the bus and took a seat next to each other. As I took a deep breath to sigh out all the anxieties, he finally gave me his visiting card and at the same time began his introduction. I had no visiting card in response but I gave him my introduction too. Later, we also went on to discuss about the same flight we took from Bangkok. We also discussed how popular our future King was in his country, known as "Prince Jigme"
With those discussion, we finally reached our hotel. The large sign board read "Washington Hotel" and the huge concrete building dazzled in the evening light. Inside, there were few hundred people who eagerly waited for the room keys to be distributed by a man at the counter.
I finally got my room key, which rather looked like a voucher card and not like the keys that I was used to for the last 27 years in my life. with key, I was also given a complementary breakfast coupon too. I was given a room at the 6th floor and there were also others who had the room on same floor with me. I cautiously entered the elevator with other people and carefully observed which buttons to press for exit and entry respectively.
The sound like a gong indicated that I have finally reached the 6th floor. I got out and went on to open my strange door with the strange key. To my relief, the instructions were clearly given and I could easily open the door. It was something like "insert the card and twist the knob when the green light blinks"
I entered my room expecting so many surprises. I carefully vouched the room with all the leaflets and brochures in the room. One leaflet said "Never leave your key inside the room while you go out" I sincerely obeyed the instruction and put my key in my pocket. I started to check my room in detail to find that there was a bed that rather looked too large for a single person along with the side table that had switches at the side and lamp on it. The window appeared large but were permanently locked. I was later told that those windows were permanently locked to protect people form committing suicide. It had a rubber curtains which I did not bother to open or touch it. The small refrigerator was stocked with all the fizzy drinks. I later realized that it was my wise decision to have not even touched those items. If I did, then I would have ended up paying a fortune for that. The Telephone set looked just like the one I had back home, so it drew no attention of mine. The television screen however attracted my attention. The thin and slim screen was connected to a cable but had only one channel; -Japanese version of BBC along with a channel that played short clips of porn movies. Later I came to know that TV subscription cards were available at the lobby for one thousand yen. I bought one thinking that I could also watch other channels apart from BBC and short porn clips.
Then I went on to check the bathroom. It was quite dark inside but never the less it was well furnished with a tub, toilet, detergents, clean towels, bathrobe, shower and a torch with a chargeable battery. I thought to my self that, perhaps, people in Japan also keep contingencies like torch.
By the time I completed my inspection, it was already dark out side. I could see the resplendent street lights on the road and airplanes with lights, hovering in the nightly sky. I had no appetite for dinner. The light form lamp was simply too faint and dim and therefore I felt a pressing need for my room to be electrified. With the right option safe and intact in my pocket, I completed all my wrong options and ended up spending a night with a just table lamp and a a torch lighting up my room.
With my bitter failure to put on the light, I was about to go to my bed for a sound sleep, when my door bell suddenly rang. It was a lady from the transportation department. She gave me a few handout papers and told me to be there in the lobby at 630 am. She disappeared immediately.
As I went through the handout papers, one clause suddenly worried me. As per the clause, it required me to pay a sum of Yen 26000/- next morning to the organizers. It also stated that the participants should at least have another sum of yen 26000/- to cover up the other incidental costs.
For gods sake, I had only USD 300/- which is equivalent to Yen 34800/-in total. where in the hell am I suppose to get that much money form. If the thing of light was insult, then thing of yen surely came as an injury to me. It took away all my sleep and peace. I regretted being there and thought that these people have all gone nuts. suddenly I started missing my home. I became insomniac and became wretched. That was the first time I felt home sick in my entire life.
Deep inside, I consoled my self and said that, things should work out well because I have come here to represent my administration; -my country. I tried multiple ways to bring down my emotion with multiple self consolations.
The next morning, I got up way before the wake call and got dressed. I tried to make a phone call to my family but someone in Japan responded and I was charged 10 Yen. I couldn't even eat my complementary breakfast.
I met my Thai colleague in the hotel lobby and I tried to discuss the same matter with him. He showed no interest and seemed least bothered. When I showed him the paper I was given, he took a glance at it and said that I was given the wrong paper. He told me that those papers were actually meant for the private sector people and not for government delegations.
I immediately approached the lady and told her of the errors (of her) that took away my sleep and made me home sick. She was swift in acknowledging her mistakes and immediately apologized me.
Soon all the participants got into the bus, that apparently looked like a house in itself and we began our onward journey to Kashiwa. I slept the entire journey to compensate my lost sleep.
We finally reached, Kashiwa at around 9 am local time.