Airplane bathroom window over the Pacific

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Curry

We scurried down the corridor toward the monolithic masterpiece of modern engineering which would usher us more than nine kilometers into the sky on our way to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

With a staggering width of nine seats trisected into three groups of three by two aisles running the length between, the 787 was nothing so much as an enormous flying hotel.

We scurried down the corridor toward the monolithic masterpiece of modern engineering which would usher us more than nine kilometers into the sky on our way to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

With a staggering width of nine seats trisected into three groups of three by two aisles running the length between, the 787 was nothing so much as an enormous flying hotel.

The Flying Hotel

Climbing aboard, we found our seats equipped with pillows, draped with complimentary blankets, and surrounded by Japanese folks kicking their shoes off and shooting the shit Nippon style. Japanese people love taking their shoes off. We took our boots off, too, and were soon comfy and airborne.

The “on-board facility” was not only the nicest airplane bathroom I’d ever been in—it was quite possibly the nicest bathroom I’d ever been in. It was clean, efficiently laid out, had artistically inspired maple leaf wall paper, and (at that moment at least) a stunning aerial view of the Pacific Ocean.

Really makes you feel like you’re just shitting out a hole in the bottom of the plane.

Airplane bathroom window over the Pacific
“Bombs away!”

Chicken or Beef?

Quite wisely I’m sure, we had called Air Canada in advance—on two separate occasions, I might add—to inform them that we were dragging a huge guitar case and bicycle box onto their plane, and also, the the way, that we’d like the vegetarian option.

Because we’re a pain in the ass like that.

However, I started to suspect that the request never made it to the execution stage when the guy next to us received his veggie meal in advance while our expectant trays remained empty. Sure enough, in a few minutes a flight attendant strolled up with her cart of wares and asked us that most ominous of in-flight questions, “Chicken or beef?”

“Uh… We were supposed to get the Vegetarian Indian option,” I answered. “We called in advance.”

She was genuinely concerned about this, but also under present obligation to keep pushing her concession cart and doling out animal carcass to the other, non-pain-in-the-ass passengers. She vowed to check on it and return.

However, after the other passengers began to near the end of their meals, we decided to bother another stewardess about it. And when the flight staff made the rounds to collect people’s empty trays, we bothered a third attendant as well.

…Because we’re a pain in the ass like that, LOL.

Round One: Bread and Cheese

Shortly after this, two very fancy (for the inside of an airplane, anyway) platters of fruit, bread, and cheese arrived. From the set of real silverware which accompanied this upscale collation, we concluded that the stewardesses, desperate to avert a malnourished mutiny in the lower ranks, dug up a spread from First Class to keep us in patience.

And also to keep our bowels blocked up for the rest of the flight. Obviously. “Can’t have too many of them proles hogging up our classy bathroom, now can we?”

We ravenously devoured the bits of cantaloupe and honeydew, scoffed grapes, chomped down morsels of cantonnier, camambert, and cheddar, and stuffed bites of bread in between. I could already feel the brick-like shit forming in my bowels, but I was too hungry to care.

Another couple of hours passed and, despite our general sense of impending constipation, we continued in desperation to pick at the remnants of bread and cheese before us.

Round Two: Enter the Curry

It was approaching the next mealtime when a stewardess, who we had politely pestered earlier, resurfaced wielding a tray of improvised sandwiches.

We thanked her profusely and were just about to dig in when a second stewardess emerged brandishing a piping hot pair of our missing curry platters. As the curry would doubtless taste better with the steam still rising from it, we elected to eat the Indian fare and save the sandwiches for later.

Round Three: The Long Lost Fiber

It was during our third and final mealtime when we realized that the courtesy of the Air Canada staff was matched only by their general lack of coordination. Flight attendants appeared from all quarters, heaping plate after plate of food before us.

By the time the dust cleared, not only had we received a reiteration of our curry entrees, but also more fruit, bags of cracker things, another generous spread of bread and cheese, and no less than four salads (fiber at last!!!).

We were loaded with comestibles.

In fact, so copious was the fare under which our flight trays groaned, that we wound up asking a kindly Japanese gentleman nearby if he wouldn’t mind partaking of our good cheer.

Of course had he been American, an easy “Got room for a salad?” would have sufficed. However, to his Japanese ear, such a truncated and indecorous utterance would have sounded as melodious as belching.

So instead I decided to Jap in up—and by that I mean get vague as hell. The art of the Japanese language lies in stating only what is indispensably necessary, and trusting to context to supply the rest.

“A! Chyotto sumimasen! Iipai ga arimasu kara, chyotto itadakimasen ka?” This translates to something along the lines of, “Sorry to bother you, but since we have so much food, would you care to have some?”

On the literal level, however, this  amounts to little more than a convoluted mess of implication such as, “Ah! A little bit sorry. Because a lot exists, won’t you receive a little?”—notice there’s no indication as to what the hell there is so much of, to whom the quantity belongs, nor even in the beginning what we’re “a little bit” sorry about.

Such blanks can only be filled in with context.

The gentleman responded with a surprised yet courteous, “A, so desu ka…” and eyeing our ample board added, “Jya, Itadakimasu!”, or “Ah, so you do… Well then, yes please!” (Or literally, “Ah, is it thus? Well… I humbly receive.” ‘Cause Japanese folks are hella polite like that.)

And of course when he finished, he did not omit to bestow upon us a kindly, “Hai! Gochisosamadeshita!” or “Thanks again for the food!” (Literally, “Yes! It was a feast!”)

Now Approaching Narita Airport

At length our plane approached Narita, and we began collecting our carry-ons and refastening our shoes for the third and final portion of our aerial journey—a flight from Tokyo’s Narita to Itami Airport in Osaka.

Our plane descended, the Princess and I grabbed our bags, and together we disembarked, trusting that the next flight would prove just as commodious as the last.

4 comments on “The Mysterious Case of the Missing CurryAdd yours →

  1. A funny read! The culinary adventures are hella entertaining (to read about, anyway). My favorite part is about the language — love your literal translations from the Japanese!

    1. Glad you enjoyed! Hopefully those literal translations give you a sense of why Google Translate can rarely muster an intelligible sentence when trafficking with Asian languages.

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