Wishin' and hopin' from the ledge of a Japanese high-rise hotelFriday, June 11, 2021
NAGOYA, Japan — The skyline of Nagoya is a breathtaking view, to say the least.
From my room on the 22nd floor of the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel, I am taking in the seaport city of 2.2 million at heights only birds and aircraft rival.
But as pleasant as it all is, there is a downside.
From behind specially reinforced plastic windows, high above the ground, this is the closest I have been, and will ever get, to feel and taste the energy below.
For the truth is I am trapped in a suffocating pandemic bubble — effectively cut off from interacting with the locals, barred from immersing in the vibrant Japanese culture and even to breathe this city's natural air, polluted or not.
They say the restrictions are there to protect us from possible novel coronavirus infection, but I would rather take my chance out there, than be in here.
The confinement seems to be playing on my mental health. Then again, it could just all be in my head.
I notice that I have been talking to myself a lot lately and have had my eyes glued to Japanese-language television when I am not peering at the urban paradise below. Mark you, I don't understand a word of Japanese, yet I can't stop watching.
Is that normal behaviour? You be the judge.
I have longed for a beer since arriving in the country, and I have grown increasingly depressed watching locals enjoying drinks at a fancy-looking open-air bar below my window.
The food at the hotels had been good for the first couple of days, then the palates rebelled, for the menus' lack of variety. Your taste buds naturally yearn for something more. Something exciting. Something different. As they say, variety is the spice of life.
From my hotel vista, I can see familiar American franchise fast food outlets McDonald's, Starbucks, and Denny's, but I can only feast on their fare from the depths of my imagination.
Not far from them is a casino called Pachinko and Slot, which is an irresistible lure with its bright carnival of lights and colours. I am not much of a gambling man, but I would kill for a chance at the slots, with little else to do. Who knows, perhaps my luck lies here in Japan, but under the circumstances, I will never know.
The picture I am painting may appear grim and hopeless, comical even, but the truth is we have had a bit of controlled outside experience.
For we have been to the training ground to watch the Boyz prepare for their two games here, plus we have been to one game and another is due on Saturday. For the most part, that's it! Full stop.
A great relief of pent-up frustration and stress was a hastily arranged exhibition football match between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) staff and a geriatric bunch of Japanese men. Yours truly was recruited by the JFF team.
It didn't take long for me to rediscover the magic of yesteryear as I was instrumental in the team's 5-2 demolition of the old Japs, though our lungs laboured in the masks.
In the match that lasted about 30 minutes, played in scrimmage format, I was also a scorer. So, too, Team Manager Roy Simpson, team doctor Lincoln Cox, physiotherapist Kevin Christie, and General Secretary Dalton Wint.
Football agent Winston Clarke displayed some good touches in his cameo, but head of delegation Patrick Malcolm could not find his footing in a sport that is largely played by using the feet.
It was all in good fun, however, and a priceless chance to laugh at ourselves after languishing in our Japanese 'prison'.
Perhaps, without realising it in the moment, the “curry goat” football match may have saved me, as taking flight from my 22nd floor window ledge had a certain appeal.
This time, I did not yield to temptation, and my family back in Jamaica would be happy to know that.
I just want to get the hell out of here!
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