I tend to shy away from aggressive situations, and have a particularly well developed disdain for violence, drunkenness and loutish behaviour. So how was I going to fit in with a bunch of rusted-on Sydney FC soccer fans? This question had troubled me in the weeks before the game, especially as I had read more and more of the fan forums. I was pleased I was traveling alone – I was expecting a few of them would be watching the game from the local Kaban (Police) station!
That sleep-depriving dilemma of mine was superseded by the real problems of the earthquake and tsunami.
Whiling away the time on a plane can be a challenge. My emergency service volunteer brain started to take over. Should I find one of the Kuramae or Ginza volunteer fire corps and offer my help? Should I make contact with my NSW Red Cross colleagues and say ” Hey, I am in Tokyo, what can I do?”
While very noble of me, I also realise that the Civil Defence Forces, disaster volunteer services, Fire Departments as well as the volunteer fire corps number in the hundreds of thousands. And then there is the small thing of language!
The plane was somewhere over Guam when this sobering conversation with Veronica came to me:
T: “Hey, things seem pretty normal here in Tokyo. Yes, the Hostel is fine. Weather is nice. Haven’t felt any after shocks”
V: “Kevin Rudd is advising all Australians to leave Tokyo. The Fukushima thing is getting more fuched. Apparently the water supply is contaminated and George Negus says there is a 150km exclusion zone”
T: “I found a volunteer Fire Corps station is Asakusa. Amazing. Volunteer sheds with human-pulled fire pumps all over Tokyo. Lovely ordinary people serving their communities, just like me”
V: “Your Mum is freaking out. Madeline says you are an idiot for going over in the first place. Go south for God’s sake. Jetstar have flights out of Osaka. Get out of Tokyo. Change your ticket.”
T: “I’ve got 4 days spare now I am not going north for the soccer. So I have volunteered with the Red Cross and will go up to Fukushima on Tuesday – or as close as we can with our paper protection suits.”
V: “Do you remember when we got those macadamias from Basim. And I had to buy the heavy duty nut cracker…I suggest you don’t go.”
(Saturday 12th March, 2011)