A very pleasant railway trip    (July 8th 2006)

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A couple of days ago I had to travel to Berlin in order to settle a few things for my forthcoming move from Fulda to the capital of Germany. I took the Intercity Express (ICE) - very fast trains somewhat like the shinkansen in Japan. Since the ICEs are often very crowded I preordered a seat reservation but - when I entered the compartment I had to realize that "my" seat was already taken by a middle-aged lady who was seemingly playing the fool and refusing to look for another seat even after I showed her my reservation ticket. So I was nearly calling for the  conductor when I discovered another free seat in the same compartment - a window seat and forwards, just how I'm liking it the best. So I took that seat.

Even better was the fact that just vis--vis sat a pretty young woman who was obviously from Asia judging by her appearance. She was reading a little book and I could make out a string of Kanji on the book spine - so I wondered if she were a Chinese. But I didn't dare to start talking to her since she was so immersed in her reading. After a quarter of an hour or so she put down her book, closed her eyes and fell asleep. A printed sheet of paper (a flyer from the railway company) was lying on the floor directly below one of her feet. After two train stops she opened her eyes again and what did she first of all - she gave me a friendly warm smile! I pointed to the flyer under her shoe and asked whether I may pick it up. She exused herself (in German - not without some accent but very polite). Then I asked for the book. "No, it's a Japanese book, and it's a textbook about statistics" she replied handing it over to me for a short view. Now I felt that the ice has broken and we started a nice and lively conversation. After I had realized that she had difficulties to speak and understand German I suggested to continue in English and she agreed with appretiation. She told me that she is actually a Japanese, livivng and working in Tokyo as a statistician in the Japanese  branch of the big German pharmacologic company SCHERING, worldwide known for developing and producing anticonceptiva (anti-baby-pills). SCHERING uses to exchange young employees from different countries for a two years period - that's the reason why she's currently in Germany. She's just returning to Berlin from a weekend meeting with a friend in Southern Germany and will go back to Japan at the end of this year.

So we talked to each other for the whole rest of our ride to Berlin central station, almost two hours and not only about biostatistics in medical and pharmacological research - on the contrary! Of course I asked curiously whether she's heard of Vivian Hsu and yes of course, she had! She's seen Vivian many times in the Japaese TV and likes her very much, but she didn't yet know that Vivian has also been casting in full length movies. And she has watched Gundam Seed too and knew that Vivian voiced manga character Aisya. Well, we had a lot of fun and laugh all the time. A pity that it was over so soon - Goodbye,  Ciao, Sayonara, - and finis of a short but very pleasant encounter.

Thanks to destiny that this silly old cow stole my reserved seat!
(I whispered these words into Yoko's ear and she nodded approving)

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