Several years back, a client told us: "You have met so many different and interesting people in your business...you should write a book about them." Well, it took a while but it was finally completed and published. The most difficult part was about whom to write...thousands of people have crossed our threshhold .....some more memorable than others, and for different reasons.
All names are fictitious and events may have been slightly adjusted to benefit the person but for the most part, it's all true. These are our observations of other peoples' lives and impressions they have left. We hold great respect for them all and by sharing their stories with our readers we hope to impart that same respect....regardless of social and financial status, ethnicity, or lifestyle.
Because this was such a personal project, no static, generalized or mass produced illustrations would do.....so all the drawings were done by the author who has a background in the fine arts. Each drawing has a particular significance for the story that precedes it ; the originals are in pencil and each piece has been signed with the artist's personal "chop" (stamp).
ON CHERRY BLOSSOM WINGS
On some rare occasions we meet special people, people who have an aura about them. We notice and appreciate them much more when we live in environments that are urban, busy, noisy, crowded, polluted, and stressful. In a sea of humanity these people being the way they are stand out from the crowd and leave an imprint in our memory.
Although this small Andalucian town cannot be compared to a large city, it does have its moments: noise, pollution, traffic and yes, even stress. Busy days in the cybercafé were hurried and especially during the summer tourist-filled months there were many harried days. On one such day a breath of sweet air filled the room when a petite young Japanese lady entered.
Tamiko was dressed in a pastel-colored blouse and pale grey demure suit, sensible leather shoes with a stacked heel, and carried a small stylish handbag. Her hair was chin length, straight and shiny, simply but precisely cut. She wore very little makeup – a little foundation, a touch of eyeliner and pale rosy lipstick; she reminded you of a fragile porcelain figurine. Her manner was reminiscent of all the stereotypes people of the Western world have of Japanese women: slow graceful motions, sweetness of voice, a sense of servitude and simplistic beauty.
She stopped at the cybercafé to check her e-mail and asked if the computers there had the Japanese language fonts installed – this was something not commonly done in public places. We responded “Yes” so she proceeded to communicate online. When she finished she commented how nice a place this was, quiet, clean and simple, unlike other cybershops which tended to be dark, smoky, dirty, noisy and not very inviting. During the course of our conversation, Tamiko explained that she was on tour.
In broken but adequate Spanish, she told us that she was a concert pianist whose speciality was a blend of classical Flamenco and Latin compositions. Her yearly tour took her to Sevilla, Córdoba, Alicante and Jaén; and whenever she was in Jaén, she took a side trip to the Granada coast. She had started playing the piano as a child in Japan, her years filled with Chopin, Mozart and other great composers but she had always been interested in Spanish culture, language and of course its music, and as her piano abilities grew as she matured, she was compelled to enlarge her repertoire by performing more classical pieces with Flamenco influences. The result of her hard work and perseverance enabled her to tour Spain for a number of years. A by-product was that she had become more enamored of the Spanish lifestyle and she became an aficionado of some typical Spanish delicacies such as Serrano ham, Manchego cheese and leche flan.
Tamiko visited the cybercafé yearly whenever she was in town. Each visit was a welcome one and on her subsequent visits she gave us copies of her newest musical CDs, compositions by de Falla, de Donostia and others that flavored her musical talent with a Spanish flair. One year she showed us her new website on which there were several lovely images of the Alhambra, the Escorial and other emblematic Spanish vistas that meant the most to her. Her website reflected her persona and her music: classical, sweetly flowing, graceful with a hint of that Flamenco spark. On one visit, her parents – complete with the ever-present digital cameras - accompanied her and she was delighted to bring them along to meet us. At Christmas time we exchanged holiday greetings via e-mail.
Tamiko had gained some fame through her music but she had remained humble, gentle and elegant, her success not having gone to her head. Her presence in the cybercafé was as fleeting as the yearly blossoming of the traditional Japanese “Sakura” cherry trees. She managed to create an oasis in the midst of a hurried working environment. Her personality and her music brought a sense of tranquility and quiet effervesence to the beholder, a sense of floating on a cloud, as light and breezy as cherry blossoms blowing in the wind.