Gaby Book 14 ~ The Girl ~ Chapter *2* Konichi Wa

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*Chapter 2*

Konichi Wa

Vincenzo could speak what I guess is passable Japanese, leastwise the receptionist seemed to understand him without issue, and we were soon being issued door cards.

“So everyone, freshen up then back down to eat, Vincenzo has organised a table for seven.”

Apart from George everyone else was sharing, Mum and Dad of course, me and Mand, Jules was with Anja with Tina and Erika taking the last room. All the rooms were on the fifth floor, a porter loaded our bags on a trolley and somehow got them to our rooms before we found our way up.

“You sure you’re okay with this Amanda?” Dad enquired, “we can swap you with Jules.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I had to ask.”
Geez, thanks Dad.
“Okay then, we’ll see you downstairs at seven then.”
“Yes Dad,” I agreed.

“Bagsy this one!” Mand declared flopping onto the first bed.
I don’t have a preference and apart from an extra couple of metres to reach the bathroom there wasn’t any other disadvantage. She might have grabbed the nearest bed but I beat her to the shower, well wet room and was soon luxuriating under the scalding waters.
“Come on Gab, I need a shower too,” my roommate chivvied.
“Two minutes.”
I closed the faucet with a sigh and grabbed a towel that I proceeded to mummify myself with before joining Mand in the main room.
“‘Bout time.”
“I wasn’t that long.”
“Twenty minutes.”
“That’s barely getting wet,” I riposted.
“If you say so Ariel,” Mand stated before entering the shower room.
Ariel? What’s she on about?

She was one to talk about time in the shower, I was dried and half dressed before she emerged twenty-two minutes later – not that I was counting!
“You going like that?”
I looked down to see what I was missing, nothing that I could tell, “yeah?”
“Your Mum’ll go loopy.”
“I’ve got clean underwear on.”
“Gab,” she sighed in exasperation.
“Okay, I’ll change.” Dunno what’s wrong with shorts and t-shirt.

We weren’t late but the others were all waiting when we reached the dining room entrance.
“Thought you’d be first down Hollow Legs,” Jules stated.
“We would’ve been quicker but someone had to change,” Mand proffered.
The look from Mum suggested that Manda had made the right call.
“We all here?” George enquired.
“We are now George,” Dad replied as Vincenzo joined us.

Our host had organised a single long table for us and we were soon seated, I was disappointed to see the very western cutlery on the table.
“So a ladies, gentlemen,” Vincenzo addressed us, “again welcome to Japon. I speak with the chef, he make a special meal for our visitors from Germany, pleas a enjoy.”
“What’s he say?” Mand whispered into my ear.
“They’ve cooked us a special welcome meal.”
“Hope its nothing too weird.”
“Find out soon enough,” I offered spotting a waiter with a pile of plates heading our direction.
Plates delivered the waiter returned bearing an oversize tray with soup bowls adorning it; these were soon placed before us.
“What is it?”
“Dunno, looks a bit like Bauernesuppe,” I suggested sniffing at my bowl.
“Which is?” Mand queried.
I dipped my spoon in and took a cautious sip.
“Well?” Mand pressed.
“If it’s not Bauernesuppe its awfully close, not bad but needs some salt.”
“Not what I was expecting for Japanese food,” Mand noted.
“They don’t just eat noodles and sushi you know.”
“Guess not,” she agreed tucking into her soup.

When the waiter placed several dishes of what looked suspiciously like frites on the table my suspicions were raised.
“Looks like it,” I agreed.
To be fair the Schnitzel when it arrived two minutes later, looked pretty good, a nice golden colour garnished with salad and lemon slices, classic Wiener style. I wasn’t the only one chuckling as it dawned on us that the ‘special’ meal was for the Japanese, exotic German everyday cuisine! Well at least there wasn’t any reason not to eat the meal, whilst on one hand I was disappointed not to get the Udon or Sukiyaki from my manga this is food we know and eat regularly and as such shouldn’t cause any stomach upsets.
Dessert was lemon sorbet followed by coffee, we could be staying in Köln or Berlin, the only thing that suggested we weren’t in Germany was the dining room décor which, whilst western in style used traditional style Japanese art rather than the often brutal style you often find masquerading as art in chain hotels back home. Not that anyone was complaining about the décor or the food.

“Well ladies,” Vincenzo started, “I must leave you now, the bus will collect you in the morning at nine thirty and we’ll get you set with the bicicletta eh, Goot nacht.”
After a further exchange of pleasantries the Italian left leaving our party with our coffee.
“Well everyone, here we are,” George offered, “it’s a full programme this week and I’m sure you will all put on a good show. I suggest we all get a good nights sleep, breakfast is available from six. Any questions?”
“Will we be coming back here after we sort the bikes?” Anja asked.
“No,” Dad advised, “we go straight on to Chiba for the race, its about fifty kilometres away. So race kit with you to the bus, Bianchi are supplying race clothing for the series but bring your normal strip anyway.”
“Thanks Dave,” George nodded, “yes, whilst we are registered here in Japan as Bianchi Apollinaris our home sponsors shouldn’t be forgotten either, they, after all pay our wages eh.”

It was only nine thirty when we, that is Mand and I, headed up to our room, despite sleeping for most of the flight even I was yawning.
“I still can’t believe it,” Mand mused after she turned out the lights.
“Believe what?”
“That I’m, we’re here in Japan.”
“It is a bit of a doozie,” I agreed.
“I mean I dreamt of traveling the world but like I never thought it would be so soon.”
“Uh huh.”
“You listening Gab?”

When I woke it took me a moment or two to work out where I was, oh yeah, Japan! I slipped out of bed and went to the window and pulled the curtain to one side. I gazed out across the sea of rooftops; the sun was glinting off something away in the distance.
“Come here, you gotta see this.”
“See what?” she croaked.
“You’ll see.”
“What time is it?”
“Erm,” I checked my watch, “six fifteen.”
“Come on, you gotta see it.”
I stood transfixed at the window unable to take my eyes from the view.
“So what am I supposed to be looking at?” Mand’s voice asked from close to my ear.
“There above double chimney, the white,” I directed.
“Okay it’s a bit of white so what?”
“Its Mount Fuji,” I supplied.
“As in big volcano thing? Geroff!”
“Money on it!”
“So what’s the white then?”
“Snow dumbo, its like as high as the Alps.”
“Cool!” Mand noted.

We stood at the window mesmerized, each lost to our own thoughts, it was my rumbling tum that broke the mood.
“Breakfast,” I stated.
“Wonder what delights we’ll have this morning?”
“Money there won’t be cornflakes.”
“As long as there’s coffee.”
“I don’t think that’s in doubt,” I noted while I searched for a sock under the bed, “gotcha!”

“You can be such a dork Gabs,” Goth Gurl chuckled, she having beaten us to the breakfast room.
“Last night Mand had to cajole you to wear something decent to dinner, this morning you put a skirt on to play bikes.”
To be honest I hadn’t given it more thought than it would make changing for the race easy, I’d sort of forgotten we’d be setting the bikes up not just collecting them.
“Whatever, you want OJ Mand?”

I lost on the cornflakes; I guess most of the guests are gaijin, foreigners so the breakfast buffet reflected that. Fruit, croissants, rolls, eggs, those cornflakes, meat – pretty standard fare although you don’t generally see rice cakes or steamed fish at home. The rest of our party had joined us by a little after seven; it was almost eight before people started to drift off to get ready for the day ahead.

Ken was waiting outside for us at nine fifteen so we filed out and climbed aboard, however Vincenzo was nowhere to be seen. Our driver seemed oblivious to that, setting off as soon as George clambered into a seat. The roads were quieter than last night, which meant we quickly reached and joined a main road signed for the airport and Kawasaki.
It wasn’t the one we used yesterday, I would’ve remembered crossing the long bridge that took us most of the way to what I guessed was Kawasaki the town rather than the motorbike. Bianchi (Nippon) SA was housed in a row of industrial units not far from the waterfront, only the name board giving any clue as to what was inside. There were a couple of cars parked out front, a Nissan Cube and what I’m betting is Vincenzo’s Alfa Romeo – it still sported Italian plates!
By the time Ken had us parked Vincenzo had appeared resplendent in light slacks and a Bianchi green polo shirt.
“Good a morning laydeez, gentlemen, come the Gaggia is a on, we have coffee before we a start eh?”

“Ewww! That’s like dishwater!” I exclaimed after the first sip of the coffee, “its not been tamped properly.”
“Ot oh,” Jules mentioned, “watch out, our own super barrister is on the war path!”
We were all in the reception area, a largish space that belied the exterior appearance, a couple of stands with assorted bikes on and a rail of clothing did their best to fill the space and occupy my teammates.
“Um Vincenzo, can I have a go with your Gaggia?”
“Ah the beautiful Gaby, something is a wrong?”
“We prefer our coffee with a bit more um, body.”
“You a know how to a use the machine?”
“We have the same model at work.”
“Be a my guest bambino, I will find Genji so we can get started.”

I replaced everyone’s coffee with something drinkable before Vincenzo returned trailing a Japanese I’m guessing is this Genji.
“This is a my mechanic Genji san.”
Genji came forward, “Konichi wa,” he finished with a sort of bow.
We all managed a greeting in return, introductions could wait for now.
“So if you are ready we get a started eh?”
“Excellent,“ George agreed, “Dave, you have the numbers?”
“To the last millimeter.” Dad confirmed.
“Would you and Genji like some coffee Vincenzo?” I suggested.
The Italian rattled something at his assistant who then spoke himself, “Coffee yes a pleez thank you.”
“I’ll bring it through,” I stated.


Maddy Bell 14.09.15

© Maddy Bell 2016 


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