Meeting Cousin Billy in Tokyo
I have visited Tokyo quite a few times over the years, although not on a very regular basis. I enjoy the vibrancy of the city, its food and culture.
On one visit around 15 years ago, my travel agent had reserved a hotel in the Roppongi district which I had not previously stayed in. It was a very nice hotel, although set back a bit from the main road.
I arrived on Sunday evening. Monday morning, my first appointment was at 9 am in the Kasumagaseki Building. I rose early, had breakfast, and went to the concierge desk in the lobby to ask their assistance in writing the building name and address in Japanese for me, to ensure smooth communication with the taxi driver. They offered to hail a cab for me as well.
Surprisingly, at that moment, I heard another American chap standing next to me asking for the same information. It turned out that he too had a meeting, also at 9 a.m., in the same building. By this time the desk had arranged a taxi, and I suggested we share it. He gladly agreed.
Off we went in the taxi. As we set off in traffic we made polite chit chat.
It was, he said, his first trip to Asia. He had also arrived the previous evening, from New York, where he was a partner in a big accounting firm. We remarked on the unusual coincidence of having meetings at the same time in the same building. We talked a bit about Japan, traffic, and other small talk.
I told him I lived in Hong Kong and worked in publishing. We had not yet introduced ourselves. Monday morning rush-hour traffic was bad, so it’s fortunate we’d allowed plenty of time.
After a few minutes he asked me if I knew an American in Hong Kong who came from Chicago and also worked in publishing, mentioning my name.
I was, as my British friends might say, gobsmacked.
After a brief moment of double-take, shock and surprise, I realized that my taxi mate was none other than my cousin Billy, whom I hadn’t seen since we were both young kids, more than 20 years earlier.
And now we were sharing a taxi from a hotel where we were both staying for the first time en route to the same building for an appointment at the same hour on the same day in… Tokyo, Japan. What were the odds on that?
“Billy?!” I exclaimed, and we both laughed heartily at the highly unlikely coincidence of meeting there and then. Our mood changed from that of cautious strangers to relatives celebrating a chance reunion in a far-away place. We chatted away for the rest of the taxi ride, went to our respective meetings, and met later that evening for a great Japanese meal. We had a wonderful time catching up.