Sunday, May 23, 2010

Missing Doutor

Forgot where I was today, and for a moment was on my way to a coffee shop no longer within reach. A month ago it had been my habit for a long time to spend an hour or so each day in a cozy shop not far from home in Kugayama, Tokyo. A favorite table up and away from the tobacco smoke, an almost attic, full of sunlight, green plants and quiet space, where I sipped coffee, read or worked on first or later drafts, where I felt sort of cloistered and at peace. I forgot for just a second this afternoon and told myself I was going for coffee and to look over a new book at Doutor in front of Kugayama Station.

I don’t mind Starbucks, and was even in one today, but it isn’t really a first choice. A different kind of place attracts me, one with a little less decor and less inflated prices. My regular for a long time was Doutor Coffee. There are probably more Doutor shops in Tokyo than Starbucks, and that’s saying something, because Starbucks has a huge presence in most sizable cities of Japan. Tea is the traditional drink, but Japanese also like their coffee, and there’s no shortage of places to get it.

The absence of a local coffee shop is something I’m now learning to live with. Oh, sure, I could drive up the street and have coffee in a diner, or chain bakery, but merely a place that serves coffee is not the point. I want a place that offers a quiet corner with good light and the invitation to sit for awhile over coffee, book or conversation. I want a place where I know before going in that coffee and sandwiches are good, and the staff friendly, but unobtrusive. Basically, I want a regular place not far from home that offers the all-around comfort I enjoyed at Doutor.

Times are, when working away from home, away from the iMac and the books at hand, that the work gets a boost and the pages come fast. Nothing in, or at hand but pen and paper and the flow unencumbered. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to achieve that in Starbucks. What I have to do now is hunt down that un-Starbucks type of small coffee shop, hidden somewhere along a sandy backstreet, or maybe over the five and dime.


A curious news flash from London…

A British woman has suddenly started speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering a severe migraine. Sarah Colwill believes she has FOREIGN ACCENT SYNDROME, which has caused her distinctive West Country drawl to be replaced with a Chinese twang, even though she has never set foot in China. The 35 year-old from Plymouth, southwest England is now undergoing speech therapy following an acute form of migraine last month that left her with a form of brain damage. There are thought to be only a couple of dozen sufferers of foreign accent syndrome around the world.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America