Things up North in Japan are terrible. I hear of hundreds of dead, an explosion at a nuclear power plant. Where do I get this information? From bbc.co.uk.
Although I live in Japan, I am very disconnected. I do not speak the language. I cannot read the newspapers and cannot understand the radio or TV. The dentist speaks English. I ask if he has family in the North. He has. He says we are lucky in Scotland to have no earthquakes. “Has anything happened in Okinawa?” “No, I do not think so.”
Compared to the scalpel-like accuracy and speed of the international media, my attempts to find out what is going on here in Okinawa are clumsy.
This leads me to the nature of living away from your home country in our age. In the 70’s I spent 2 years in Algeria. No web , no telephone, only letters in envelopes. Two week old copies of the Daily Telegraph were devoured and passed around amongst the very small Brit community each time someone came back from Britain. People clustered around a radio to try and understand the World Service News despite the hum and crackle. Every thing I needed to know had to be wrung out of society in Algeria. There was no alternative.We were truly abroad.
Now I have live radio over on my computer. Email from the US tells me that there has been an earthquake in Japan. I have any number of newspapers that update news by the minute. I listen to English language podcasts as I drive through the rice fields. I am in a cocoon. Although abroad, the experience will never be the same. The nature of travel has totally changed.
I feebly offer those who are suffering in the North of Japan my support. Okinawa has been mercifully spared.