Wednesday, September 28, 2005

PANI (WATER) in Japan

I showed PANI (WATER) to students at Okinamizu University in Tokyo, Japan to a packed and ethusiastic audience of feminist scholars and students. In addition, I gave a talk about justice during Nepal's civil conflict at Tokyo University and also at Amnesty International's Japan group.

Everybody was absolutely fantastic and hospitable, and I kept being reminded by Nepalis working there that "Japanese and Nepalis are the same: we are Asians, we share similar values." I wasn't there long enough to figure that one but I did definitely enjoy my time there...

There was the expected blow-up with the immigration official at the airport, but what's new. The tense relationship with airport officials and the Nepali passport is an ongoing saga. It didn't help that the official holding my passport hostage walked back and forth like some Japanese soldier in a WWII film--that stiff walk that we've seen in too many films to believe is real, until you see it again, eeirely recreated by a Japanese airport bureaucrat. Suffice to say I missed my train to Tokyo after hours and spent the night at a hotel with two other suspects: a Syrian and a Pakistani engineer, both of who were so used to being pulled off and harassed at airports they ate their kebabs and drank their whiskeys and went to sleep with an easy mind, unlike me--I spent the night fuming. We were all pegged on our supposed terrorist connections, I imagine. Perhaps the Japanese airport official, and all other officials of this nature, have a list of Third World countries with a tick next to it saying: "Harass these people. Traumatize them and make sure they never return." Something of this nature. But once past the dragon Japan was fantastic.

Here are some photos: