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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 53: 16 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysBefore I leave Japan I have one last proof of travel to collect. Robert Hewison, one of my four trustees, has asked me to bring back a menu from a place called Caffe Bongo. Fortunately the Caffe Bongo is not easy to miss. It appears that an aeroplane has just crashed into it. A wing projects out of the window and into the street. Inside the wing is lodged about 8 or 9 feet off the ground. Bent girders on tilted metal columns snake upwards into, or downwards from, the aircraft, and classical columns, broken and tilting, seem to grow through it. Michelangelo's David is perched against a wall. The general effect is as if a Dakota had been forced to make an emergency landing in mediaeval Florence.

In the middle of all this exhilarating profusion of images, designed by a British architect, Nigel Coates, a few Japanese are solemnly sitting drinking coffee at 4 a cup as if they were in Betty's tea rooms in Ilkley. I ask for a menu, and then have to try and explain to the waitress that I want to keep it. She doesn't understand. Why should she? The more I explain my mission the more preposterous it sounds. I should have just pocketed the menu card, but it's rather large and unconcealable. I approach various of the other customers who try not to look at me, and on third or fourth attempt enlist the help of a businessman who tries his hand at explaining my quest to the staff.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 53
  • Date: 16 November
  • Country/sea: Japan
  • Place: Tokyo
  • Book page no: 181

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