I decided my birthday present to me would be a night out in another city. Some other members of my foreign wives’ club had arranged a dinner at an Indian restaurant owned by the friend of one of them. I stubbornly stuck to my plan, despite some potential child-care issues (they eventually stayed with Baachan), and a massive downpour.
I drove. I briefly considered taking the train, but I didn’t want to be stuck having to come home early to catch the last train. So I persisted with the car. I left late, and then tried to take what looked like a short-cut on the map, but which just got me lost. I found where I was again, and had just decided that I was running out of time, the traffic was too busy, and to head for the main station instead of my friend’s house, (where I had been promised a bed for the night), when I took a wrong turn, and ended up heading towards her house anyway. I decided fate had laid its hand, and I should go there. The road was wide and not as crowded anyway.
I got to her house about half an hour later than I thought would be the latest time I would get there. A little late, but still doable. She was already on a train – we had arranged that I would just park in front of her house, then take the train from her station into town. So I walked to the station, easy. I got my ticket, no problem there, I’m good at that. I heard a train come in – I rushed through the ticket gate, but it was not my train. I found my track, and headed through a tunnel towards it. As I came through it, I saw a train waiting, and heard the whistle, so I rushed up the stairs, ran towards the train and got on it just before it left the station. I was feeling pretty proud of my train-catching skills, until I passed a few stations and started to get a little nagging suscpision that I was going the wrong way…
It took me about twenty minutes to admit I was on the wrong train, after twice falsely reassuring myself that I was going in the right direction, once with a slightly glimpsed road sign, once with a river. I hopped off and called my friends, and waited on another track for the train coming back the other direction. At least I didn’t have to pay for my mistake (I bought a ticket from point A to point B, so as long as I entered the system at point A and exited at point B, it doesn't matter where the hell I went in the meantime). By now I was 90 minutes later than my initial expected arrival time. My night was shrinking horribly. Thank God for the iPod – listening to a few songs kept my mood up. I listened to ‘Don’t you forget about me’. And a BeeGees song from Saturday Night Fever that made me think of John Travolta on a subway train on the way to a disco in New York. Not me on the wrong train in Kitakyushu.
Well I finally met my friends at the restaurant, and ordered a long-wished-for cold beer, and my dinner – chicken and naan. Well, what a disappointment! It was over-cooked and tasteless, and the naan was doughy and underdone. The others had curries that consisted of curry-flavoured tomato soup with a chicken leg in it. At least the beer was good. We followed up with a visit to a ‘gaijin bar’ (where foreigners hang out, main difference is that drinks are paid one by one, rather than the vague total passed to customers in ‘snack’ bars). I had a Black Russian and a glass of wine. We had to go home early, to catch the last train, but we had a few more drinks when we got back, while we fiddled with our iPods, and I petted my hostess's two fat ginger cats.