Thursday, September 18, 2008

“It happened in Akihabara” and I did not drink a beer, Akihabara, Tokyo, September 2008

Wandering around Akihabara I suddenly found myself in front of a pub. The emblematic Uncle Sam “I WANT YOU... to serve in the US armed forces” poster of the First World War indicated that was a place where I could get a nice beer and be able to avoid the embarrassment of asking it in my lousy Japanese. Then again, it was a really hot and humid day and a beer was just the thing that I needed to cool down. But did I get a beer?

As I was coming in, some business men were coming out with some work papers in their hands. A guy that kind of presented himself as the owner of the store looked at me inquisitively…

Me: Do you have many international beers?

Him: Yes.

Me: Can I see the beer list please?

Him: Sure, but I only have it in Japanese

Me: [browsing the beer catalog in Japanese for a few moment trying to see something that I could help me choose a beer], Hmmm…

Me: [after suddenly looking at a poster full of beers] Ah, do you have all the beers in the poster? It will be easier to choose by the picture…

Him: [laughing] No, not really.

Me: Do you have Belgium beers?

Him: Belgium…Belgian..Belgi…

Me: Yes, Belgian beers.

Him: No, many American, German...Holland

Me: Ah, you have Dutch beers, which ones?

Him: Grolsch [then he makes me a sign to follow him and we go to the rear part of the bar where he shows me a refrigerator full of beers.

Me: [finding bottles of Duvel, Chimay, etc.] Ah, you do have Belgium beers!!!

Him: [looking completely amazed] They are Belgian?

Me: Yes, perfect! I want a Chimay, the one with the blue label. That one!

Him: Oh, no, no.

Me: [my turn to look puzzled] No, why not? You have them there…

Him: But we are closed. The pub is closed…

After two seconds I couldn’t take it anymore and started laughing with the surrealism of the all situation. I have talked with this guy for at least five minutes, he takes me to see all the beers that he has in his pub, and we have that entire dialog for him to tell me that he cannot sell me a beer because his store is closed! In the end we both laughed together...and I ended up not drinking a beer.

The pub where this all story took place:


Bi said...

Very nice experience! I always want to explore where language differences can lead us.

Bi said...

Very nice experience! I always want to explore where language differences can lead us.