Food Poisoning and an Earthquake

After returning to Nagoya I head over to the Takashimaya food floor and stroll through it twice. The restaurant which calls to me is very high end with traditional wood and shoji styling and a gorgeous mini garden outside the door. I look over the menu and can’t say why I hesitate. My intuition in these matters is seldom wrong; nevertheless, I decide to look for something not quite as steep. Mistake.

As I haven’t had chicken for a while, I settle for a more modest yakitori spot with a long line-up. As a single willing to sit at the counter, I know I’ll get in faster than the families. Sure enough, I barely have time to rest before I’m whisked in and settled. I order a beer, salad, a chicken gizzard appetizer (you never get those in the West and nicely answers nostalgia for my grandmother’s country-style cooking) and yakitori. The servings are bigger than I expected, and with the beer I feel more than full on leaving.

An hour after returning to my hotel I know I won’t keep that dinner down. Was it the coddled egg in the salad, tainted salad greens, the gizzards or contamination due to poor hygiene? It’s hard to know, but I have a full on case of food-poisoning that keeps me up past 3:00 AM.    I can only hope the person booked in the room below is one of those Japanese who can sleep while standing up on a train. If not, two of us are in for a very nasty night .

Feeling a little tired after a night of purging and after securing the equivalent of a Gravol from a druggist in the station, I catch a late-morning Shinkansen to Tokyo. Arriving at my hotel I find my room is available early. Grateful for the unexpected break I have a nap, grab a bit of yogurt from the konbini for dinner and go to bed early thinking it’s over.  Wrong.

At 4:00 AM I’m struck with Montezuma’s revenge and can’t leave my room except to buy water and tea from the vending machine downstairs for two days.

During this interval, perched on a state of the art computerized Toto, a strange wave hits. The whole room is moving. It takes a moment to realize that, no, I’m not dizzy. It’s an off-shore earthquake. Not the big one everyone’s been expecting for decades, but at 6.9 (I learn afterwards) big enough. The hotel sways a long time.

Funny how the mind works in situations like these. With no experience of earthquakes, I wonder what I should do. Leaving the bathroom and facing public disgrace in this condition is out of the question.

I promptly decide that if this escalates into an emergency situation, I’m hiding right where I am. They’ll have to break down the door and drag me out even though dying on a Toto is a pretty ignoble way to go. I’m certain it wouldn’t qualify as a ‘good death’ whatever that ridiculous euphemism is supposed to mean.

Reassuringly, I hear no alarms. No yelling or running in hallways or knocking on doors. I guess it’s safe to rule out possibly dying today.

However, even though I don’t have a temperature and seem have all my wits about me, I begin to wonder at what point I’d be wise to call in an English-speaking doctor. This is one situation when travelling alone might pose a greater risk to a person as no one is there to offer a second, objective opinion.

I get out the insurance brochure and find the phone number I prudently highlighted before leaving home. (Who can read these fat, fine-print things when they’re sick?) But too tired to dial, I decide to nap first. After I awaken I’m fine. Depleted and weak, but fine.

I open the balcony door and air the room, shower and visit reception to ask whether I can get a female shiatsu masseuse today. Yes, indeed. I can. The crisis is over.

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