March 21, 2011 15:48
Greetings from Japan.
The disaster area was hit by a fairly strong earthquake this morning.
The number of people `barely-living in emergency shelters is slowly dropping. It seems to be about 350 000 today. The images of people living side by side with about enough space person to sleep and keep a few personal possessions is unforgettable. Slowly but surely the contamination from the nuclear disaster is spreading into the food chain, being found in water, vegetables, milk etc. further and further from the scene. Although life seems fairly normal outside the disaster area there is a great deal of panic buying going on and it was hard for me to get `brown rice,` today. I don’t eat the white stuff. Japan has long been a country ranked as `not self-sufficient,` in terms of food production and it is probably going to pay a heavy price now.
The piano player from my trio and I decided last Friday that we were going to start doing charity concerts, not so much to raise money but to raise hope and energy. I beetled off to the local community complex which is part of the station structure and sort of shopping mall to try and arrange things since they have a stage and piano in the middle of the plaza. The staff there were quite agreeable until I mentioned collecting boxes which we can’t use on the premises. Controlled my rage and decided privately to ask people to drop money in my violin case as they left. Haven’t been playing much recently and relatively trivial bouts of pneumonia mean I don’t really have the energy to keep a violin up and play flat out for a few hours but this is more important so my friend and I sorted out a program.
No time for a rehearsal of any length for various reasons but I figured If I practice in thirty minute increments on Sunday and again on Monday morning I could get through the concert without collapsing.
Alas, Po, the farting, furry feline from hell had other ideas. Woke me up at four o’clock Monday morning by getting into a really serious fight with something outside my bedroom window that lasted for about twenty minutes. It was pouring with rain so I couldn’t go out and find him. He turned up at six o’clock looking wetter than I have ever seen a cat in my life (except when he fell in the bath). He was relatively uninjured but seemed in a state of shock and needed to curl up in a really tight ball on my lap for two hours. I always knew he was descended from a long line of hedgehogs. After that he threw up on my futon and seemed vey cheerful. Outside my house were piles of of fur, non of which belong to Po. From this I concluded he was the winner. Three cheers for Po!
So much for practice.....
Turned up at the station/Plaza knowing that nothing was ready so the only option was to ask for help from a higher power and then stop thinking completely.
The staff there really tried to make amends for the collecting box thing by announcing the concert every fifteen minutes on the station broadcasting doofrreewhatsit. They also came in their free time and directed people to the `official` collection box situated. Wonderful people.
I finally realized how deeply distressed my piano playing friend was when I started the first work which was a Handel Sonata (D major). We knew the program order and I had announced the work in a loud voice. She started the Schubert Sonatina. Actually it sounded quite good..... We each played one solo item during the program and she played Traumerie which should have been renamed Trauma-rie it was so sad. Anyway, the higher power had been listening because the concerert took off and became a very emotional event.
I left the venue feeling a little proud of what we had done and to my surprise the streets from there to my house (about 25 minutes walk) seemed to be line with people collecting money. They had been standing out in the freezing cold (its very very very very cold here now) for hours. Then I got home and my friend with a Japanese family phoned me from England where he lives half a year (a opposed to Japan). He was donating his salary while his family lives on rice and vegetables they are growing in the garden. The food company he runs in Japan was shipping truckloads of free food up to the disaster area.
I took a deep breath. Nothing to be proud of after all. One simply has to ask what to do next....
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