It was forbidden to grow a moustache in high school. I did it. When they painted a moustache on me during a party, I liked it and grew a real one.

Of course this came to the attention of the school management. They called me in to the disciplinary committee. As scared as I was, I went. I knew growing a moustache was forbidden. I also knew that the president of the disciplinary committee was a tough guy who awarded tough punishments. I went before him thinking what kinds of a punishment I would receive. He looked and looked…

“It looks good on the rascal” he said.

I was over the moon. For the last two years, I kept my moustache. My caricature in the yearbook depicted me as giving a speech with my moustache and a glass of alcoholic drink instead of water in front of me. I sort of learned to understand, respect and have tolerance for other people through this incident.

There is no rule that states that bad things will happen to you every time you’re scared. You can always come across nice surprises, just like I did when I faced the tough president of the disciplinary committee.

We came across a similar surprise in Tokyo.

andie 2

It was many years ago. While we were returning to our hotel in Ginza Yurakusho, we ran into many isakaya located under the railway.  As people familiar with the pub culture, we were instantly attracted. We were returning from shopping. We checked out each one. All had Japanese writing on the doors. We decided to visit one at night. But how were we going to pick one? They all looked alike and almost all of them had only Japanese signs. Naturally we were a little worried. What type of a place we were going to find? How would we order and communicate? As we were passing by one of them, we wanted to make a reservation for the night, encouraged by a waitress who was at the door. The name of the isakaya was Andy’s. The western name was one of the factors we chose the place. But judging from the signs of the waitress, they weren’t accepting reservations. She pointed to her watch and all we could understand was ‘come at seven’. We did as she instructed. But still, we were intimidated. We relaxed a little when we saw the crowd that consisted of both men and women. We quickly adopted to the scene when the chef greeted us with a shout from the counter, as he did with every newcomer. It seemed we were the only foreigners. We sat at a table. Our waiter, of course, spoke nothing but Japanese. But thanks to the amazing organizational skills of the Japanese, we were able to give our order by pointing to the pictures on the menu. Everything we ordered tasted great. People all around us were engaged in heated conversations. There were three young couples and a clean looking man at the next table. He was obviously sad and bothered by his state that he drank one beer after another and got drunk. But he didn’t cry or shout. Only his face turned red from drinking. We wanted to share his troubles by raising our sake glasses towards him. He and his friends lovingly reciprocated. Is it necessary for people to speak the same language to get along? As we ate and drank like seasoned isakaya customers, the highlight of the evening came when the chef masterfully  cut a huge tuna at his station while shouting.

We were happy when we left Andy’s.

There is no rule that states that bad things will happen to you every time you’re scared. My teacher at school and Andy’s are two great examples.

andie 3


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