Thursday, September 30, 2004


There we were this morning on the semi-open train platform in the throes of typhoon Meari, as it's known elsewhere (locally, it's typhoon #21), we bushido commuters waiting for the no-show train in the teeth of the storm, wind howling, microscopic raindrops from god's big atomizer traveling horizontally like a big flapping gray flag, then for occasional moments the air would clear and the green mountains appear out of nowhere then back again to gray...

In growing numbers we stood there in the wet howl, listening on tenterhooks to the elderly station announcer (they put the semi-retired ones out in the country at the small, quiet stations) fumbling with the mike and the dials and buttons then mumblestumbling over the loudspeaker with his cobbled announcements about the train upon which the swelling crowd depended: uuummm, uuuuhhhh, the train isn't coming yet uhhhhhhhh because........... uhhhhh the uuuuhhhh it hasn't left the ummmm because uhhhhhh...... and so on, we finally deciphering (it's hard to hear with rain in your ear) that the train was stopped somewhere up the line and nobody knew when it would start again, the dispatchers fearing that the strong gusts might blow the whole train right off the tracks, unlike we much lighter commuters standing right beside the same tracks just barely out of the same storm through which we'd traveled on foot and wheel to wait in the very teeth for the train...

Then, as if in a gift for our troubles, after a time the air cleared of the horizontal gray and the moisture took on an innocent wispiness and there before us against the mountains, looked like just about a meter in front of our eyes, was a thick and brilliant rainbow, full-fledged, framing a bright silver mist through which could be seen the green mountains fading and reappearing with the shadows of the passing clouds. It stretched from the stonemason's house all the way to the house of the fireman in the next village who has an antique American red 'bullseye' railroad lantern. That should pin it down quite precisely for you.

The rainbow just hung there like a deific marquee for as long as we waited, the schoolkids around me all looking into their cell phones. The future is virtual. When the train finally came, the rainbow followed us nearly all the way to Kyoto, but refused to go through any tunnels; it preferred to wait for us on the other side. It faded as we neared the city.


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