Saturday, April 6, 2019

Back in the day, thirty years from now...

In Japan, generally speaking (very generally...) there are three groups of expats. There's a large group under two to three years on the ground as their companies have rotated them in and soon will rotate them back out again. And then there's the group over ten years here, these have pretty much made the decision to stay a significant element of their lives, though they may not have come to terms with this as yet. And then there's the pipeline between the two; those who haven't realized permanent residency is quietly creeping up on them.

Each of the individual identities have a series of bragging rights, the newer often about how wonderfully incoherent Japan can be through to the long stay "do you remember what it was like in the old days?". And the old days were interesting, a life without Facebook, Instagram or, more importantly as it were, internet of any kind. These days if you invite someone to an event they can just follow their phones, bak in the day for us it was a wing and a prayer. A map, via a fax machine (if you had one), strays and orphans. And yes, we'd take them in if they were really lost.

And then there's the "how did you first arrive". Only recently before I'd flown to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time (in late 1991) had Russia opened it's airspace. I flew direct but not too long before that I'd have had the choice; freeze overnight in Anchorage, or develop a hangover in Hong Kong. A decade earlier had been so sensitive the Russians shot down a passenger liner (Korean Air 007) after it strayed of course and over Soviet territory (actually leading to the civilian release of GPS, as an aside). But as we were swapping stories we found another group smiling like Cheshire Cats. They'd arrived when Narita was still a rice field.

If we had postcards and fax machines back then, I wonder what it'll be like thirty years from now...






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