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Saturday, September 1, 2012

First time in a Brothel

It has been a while since you guys had a slice of my life. Ugh, that didn't sound right. What I mean is that it has been a while since I wrote something about my life. While things are mostly boring and mundane over here sometimes they do get spiced up, and when they do, they really do. This is the story of how I went looking for brothels in Tokyo and almost ended up with a prostitute. Well it looks a silly sentence for you go looking for brothels in order to find prostitutes, but there's a catch so read on. In case my children or their potential partners come across this post when they do a background check before the arranged marriage, note that the keyword here is almost. By the way, why I thought my children, if I had any, would need arranged marriages, baffles myself. I have no idea.

So couple of months back, there I was happily munching on a particularly good cookie while staring at the computer screen, i.e., browsing the Internet. Because that's what we software engineers do when we come home after staring at a screen for about 10 hours at work. Anyway, my Skype went 'blongg' and there was a chat from an old mate who lives abroad. Well the mate isn't particularly old, our friendship is. For reasons you will understand in a minute, I need to keep the identity of this friend concealed, so let me call him, let me think about it... Aladdin. Suffice to know that he lives in another country. Turns out he was thinking of spending a few days in Japan en route to somewhere from somewhere else. So Aladdin and I made plans to meet up since it's been a while since we saw each other and all.

Fast forward a couple of months, the bugger arrived in Japan. But we didn't meet at once for he had planned his trip so that he would arrive in Osaka (which is a few hundred kilometers south of Tokyo), travel around there with some of his relatives, then head towards Tokyo where he will eventually leave from. So after his stay in Osaka, Aladdin finally arrived in Tokyo a couple of days ago. I met up with him that evening, took him to see the Tokyo Tower and then had a good old Japanese dinner with a beer catching up with each other's news. It was good to see him after a long time (well, I didn't think the same next day though) and finally I took him to his hotel and we said goodbye. But it wasn't the final goodbye because we arranged to meet up the next day for a beer as well as he was to leave Japan on Saturday and didn't have much to do till then.

Next day we met up as decided and I took him to see the Shibuya junction (this is probably the only road crossing in the entire world that tourists go to see), then a bit of this and that before heading towards a sort of famous bar where you can get foreign beer. We ordered a couple of Guinness with 'Fish and Fries' and were chilling when Aladdin started a very odd conversation.

Aladdin : Dude... erm.. you see I need to ask you something... I dunno if you know... I mean maybe I should have told you before...
Me : Man, what the hell, are you going to propose to me or what? Don't fret if so, ask me out like a man.
A : Oh please... I have better better taste than that.
A : But it's kind of something like that too. I mean...
Me (very concerned) : ....
A : Umm... do you like know any place around here... erm... I can like hook up with... you know... an escort or whatever you call that here?
A : Okay maybe they aren't. Shut up that's not the point. Do you know any?
Me : You think I'm a pimp or what? Or that I frequent Tokyo brothels?
A : Oh okay sorry man...
Me (laughing) : Just kidding dude. Are you sure about this?
A : Yes you fuck, Jesus I thought I offended you. These Jap chicks are cute.  Can you...?
Me : Well, I don't know any but if you really want to... I think I know where to look.

Now I'm not a fan of hookers, never been with one and never will be (I swear, my future daughter in law) but that's just me. If anybody wants to go to a prostitute that's quite fine by me. I'm not like the people who think two other men getting married affect their own marriage. I don't judge people. And to see the cup half full, some poor Japanese girl gets a few thousand bucks too. So I said yeah, and though I've never been to a brothel before I knew generally where to look for one. There are a couple of famous areas in and around Tokyo where you can supposedly get 'full service' if you know what I mean. Prostitution being illegal in Japan, they generally disguise it under various kind of massages so that's where you want to go. I took out the iPad and a couple of searches with safe search off told us the details we needed to know. Internet FTW! So we finished our beers and got on a train.

Several minutes later we got off the train in a station in the area where we needed to go. Normally if I want directions here I ask a Jap, but that was out of the question this time. However, Internet FTW again! This time Google maps told me where to go and a couple of minutes later we ended up facing a bit dodgy looking street. Usually, in evenings, business streets in city areas in Japan are buzzing with all kinds of people. You have colorful blinking lights, shop owners - especially in restaurants - employ people to go outside the shop with a menu and shout to attract people, you have street vendors; simply put an atmosphere I suspect you would not see in most if not all the other developed nations. These streets are like improved versions of Pettah if you catch my drift. But this street was a bit different. It had all the above but it also had a range of shops with advertising boards of bikini clad pretty chicks, and a bunch of thug-ish looking guys in front of every one of them, trying to snatch clients for their 'massage parlours'. Not to mention a couple of girls at the doors dressed not very different to those in the pictures. However, there's a catch. I've often heard that not every such place take foreigners in so I was kind of reluctant because though chances of that happening are very rare, getting stabbed in the back of a dodgy ally in Japan was not my favorite way to die. I also had a feeling this would not sit well with people close to me once I'm dead, especially with me not being able to tell them the story and all. So we walked to the end of the street, Aladdin ogling at the chicks and me listening to what the goons were shouting. I realized that a few guys asked us to come in too so we turned back and chose one shop my 'desperate' friend fancied. 

Then I realized that there was another problem.

Aladdin doesn't speak a word of Japanese. And I was pretty sure the Japs who were there don't speak a word of English. Now this was a problem that I hadn't counted on. My initial plan was to leave the bugger there but now that option was fast flying out of the window. And almost immediately he realized it too.

A : Umm... so... how does this work now?
Me : You son of a bitch, now do I have to go inside with you too?
A (grinning like an idiot) : Can you?
 By now the goons around us were also looking at us like are you going to go in or what?
A : Oh well. Waren ithin. Mee haraka.

So for the first time in my life I stepped inside a brothel, even if it was a disguised one. I must admit here that I was kind of curious to know how this thing works as well, so actually I didn't mind. One of the two hotties at the door led us into a nicely lit room with a comfy sofa and a few flower vases, and beckoned us to sit. We did as asked and she brought us some Japanese tea. Looks like they are classy even at a brothel. While we were sipping the tea I explained to her that my friend doesn't speak Japanese so that I will have to translate to him everything and help him out. She was cool with that. The type of 'massage' they provide is called 'Soapland' (Google, with safe search off, if you want to know further details which I'm not going to go into here) which apparently is very popular in Japan. She went on to explain that we first needed to pick the 'course', meaning length of time, and then pay the relevant amount. We did so, then she said we can pick the girl if we wished so, to which Aladdin responded with an eager nod so we said yes. And then she went inside an adjacent room and a moment later returned with an album full of photos of ladies in clothes that left very little for imagination. However, here it popped up in my mind that slave trade must not have been very different from this except for the fact that the slaves were not wiling and that there were no photos back then. This just felt wrong. Anyway, Aladdin picked the girl he liked and he was led towards a corridor out of the room.

Then the cutie turned to me and said,

"So... would you also like to take the same course?"
Me (confused) : What?
Cutie : Umm... would you like the same course?
 Then I realized that I never told her that only my friend was going get the massage, not me.
Me : Oh... I'm sorry... it was only for my friend.
Cutie : Oh... I thought you just wanted to first send your friend in and then pick one for you. Are you sure?

This was not at all what I had in mind an hour ago when my godforsaken friend asked for some help and I decided to help out a 'bro'. This whole bro-code thing is overrated I tell you.

Me : Yeah... I'm sure.

Then I realized that I couldn't arrange to meet up with Aladdin once he's finished and I most certainly did not want to stay in there for an hour. So I asked her if she could tell him to come to a nearby coffee shop which was at the start of the street and she said she could do that. So then she proceeded to lead me to the door where she bid me farewell with a typical Japanese "bye byeee" and a wave.

I stepped onto the street and upon seeing me leave one of the earlier mentioned goons turned towards me.

Goon : "Sir, what happened? Are you leaving?"
Me : Umm.. erm... never mind.

Explaining the whole story to a random pimp on a street seemed too much of a hassle, and even if I did the chances were that I was going to come out looking a bit silly anyway. I just shook my head and turned to leave.

That, my friends, was how I almost ended up with a prostitute. Or as they call them, a 'massage therapist'.