Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 17 2011... <a pause from my other story>.

March 17 of 2011... I'm sitting in the immigration office waiting for my number to be called. I arrived from Osaka around 10 am to get the number and got number 122... they were attending number 27! I was expecting less people for the visa application, but I thought it would be crowded, so I took the number and went to do some other things in my lab and house (I printed my daughter's passport picture, she looks super cute!). In Tokyo and Chiba life looks pretty much the same, Japanese people are going to work, kids are going to school, trains are running almost normal. On the other hand, from MY perspective foreigners are noticeable scared or worried. It showed from the amount of people today in the immigration office and their conversations (yes I know that is not polite to listen to other conversations, but well... :p).

To give you an idea of the amount of people waiting... this is right outside the waiting room! and there were people all over the building!

I went to my house, prepared some documents, went to the lab, and tried to print my baby's pictures for her passport (but failed), then, at 3pm went back to the immigration office to see if my number was up, but they were attending 72! :0 So I went to search a store to print the pictures better and had lunch. Came back after an hour or so, and it was 85... mmm... so I decided to wait there. I'm here to get my visa extension (since the one I have is soon to be expired) and maybe my re-entry pass in case we decide to go out of the country, but not sure I will be able to get it.

While waiting I found a friend (let's call her N because I didn't ask her permission to put her name here) of mine from Ukraine. We started discussing about the situation and she told me that she was 7 years old when the Chernobyl's accident happened (and she is from Kiev that is around 110Km from the plant []*) and then worked with some sort of association to help the people affected. So we were discussing how difficult is for something to happen in Tokyo in the worst case scenario, and that is amazing how foreigners are panicking now. I found this reaction very normal because of the amount of miss information around. Like really, what would you do if something like this was happening relatively near you if: you don't know much about how a Nuclear reactor works, media coverage is showing a lot of numbers that you have no idea what they mean, or your neighbors, coworkers, and friends tell you that he or she heard from a friend who has a friend with contacts in some important place that the NUCLEAR (they always make emphasis in this word) reactor is about to explode. Of course people will prefer to run as fast as they can, just in case. Personally I don't think is time for me to run, but it never hurts to be prepared (that is why I'm also here... hihihi).

We went to sit with some other people to wait for our turn. One of N friend is completely scared, he is afraid of the earthquakes and the nuclear plant. His dad bought him an air ticket and told him to go back immediately. We chatted for a little while and then he left to do some other paper work he needs. Then another rumor came in from a friend of my friend: The reactors are broken already and leaking radioactive material, but is not yet in the news. It sounded a little strange to me, but well according to N he might be reliable. Also, the Cuban embassy called another friend of mine and tells him that the government has issue an order for all Cubans to go back tomorrow. It's funny because he didn't get scared of the radiation, but of having to go back to Cuba. Then, our friend in Osaka heard another rumor in his Job that the reactors will explode like in 48 hours. Rumors here, rumors there... conspiracy of the government?... people making there own stories?... what to believe, that is the question. No wonder why people are freaking out, I think they believe more rumors than actual scientific data; I guess is human nature or survival instinct. In MY opinion the Japanese government would not dare to cover up a situation that will affect millions (it is estimated that almost 13000 MILLION people are living only in Tokyo... plus Ibaraki, plus Chiba... []* ) of people just to cover up for the electric company and nuclear energy... If so, it will be genocide, but then politics are always very... how to put it.... f#$"ked up.

Data, mathematics, experiments and past experiences show how difficult is for Tokyo to reach dangerous levels of radiation; even less in Osaka. After talking to my friend from Ukraine, I'm even less worried, but I have another factor that is very new to me... I became a dad 2 months and a half ago... So my brain is now in constant deliberation whether I'm making a wrong decision here...  the "...what if..." in most of these people around me is also affecting me somehow, but in a different way. What comes to my mind is: what if all I trust and know turn to be wrong, after all I believe that I can never be 100% sure of anything in this life. What if that 0.0001% of doubt I have becomes a reality and end up affecting my daughter because she is just a baby? What if I go out of the country and expose her to a 14+ hours flight, different temperature changes, recycle air in an aircraft with maybe some sick people and she gets sick? This is the kind of thing that is stressing me now...   <<now attending number 107... almost, almost... they finished with the people of the reentry, they attended 2800 people today just for that, super efficient!>>  ... but yeah it is very difficult to be a dad and I have been a dad for only 2 months and a half! Oh my, oh my what is waiting for me in the future (specially when she starts dating! :s)... but when you see her smile or the funny noises she have started mumbling now is soooooooo worth it!

Amount of people at 3pm  that went to get the reentry permit.  They reached 2800 at the end of the night!

Ok, I'm next. I'll continue soon with the stories.

(--- obviously the information with the * was added later and please check the links for more information about it. ---)

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