The typhoon hit Tokyo yesterday. (Read the news here).
Having been disappointed by the last typhoon, I underestimated the severity of the situation last night.
I heard that many companies, especially those situated in the more rural areas had allowed their employees to return home by 4 in the afternoon, fearing that the typhoon would disrupt the train lines. However there was no go-ahead from the school that we would be closing, so I was still in the Ikebukuro centre waiting for my students to turn up when P left me a worried voicemail at 7ish to go home.
Not surprisingly, none of the 3 university kids showed up for the group class. I had my fingers crossed that the salaryman I had for the last 2 slots would be a no-show too, but he turned out to be a very determined learner who arrived on time and was partially soaked by the rain outside.
During the lesson break, one teacher annouced that the Yamanote line was stopped because of the weather condition and there was a mini-commotion in the staff room. Closing the Yamanote is like closing the entire MRT line in Singapore- the schedules of every other line were contingent on the timing on the Yamanote.
This must be good enough reason to scare the student home, I thought to myself.
Unfortunately, by the end of the break, the secretary announced that the Yamanote was running again.
I tried calling P a few times but it went straight to his voicemail, and I later found out it was because the typhoon had wrecked the telephone lines.
I ended work at 9:15 and headed for the station, but the rain was so heavy my dress was almost completely soaked. When I went through the turnstiles and was heading up to the platform, I realized that all the commuters were waiting on the steps instead of actually being on the platform. I looked up and saw that the wind was blowing relentlessly from every direction, and being on the platform would be like standing in front of an open water hose. It was worrying and amusing both at once.
When I arrived in Baba, I took a deep breath and focused on the ground as I made my way back to the apartment, holding on very dearly to my umbrella but obviously unable to avoid being whipped by the rain.
I had planned a sleepover at Melissa's, but P told me that it would be most unwise because the trains could be stopped again any time and that I wouldn't want to be trapped in the middle of nowehre in a train full of wet, unhappy people. He made sense, so I decided to wait another hour to see if the rain would subside.
An hour later, the howling stopped and the rain had calmed down to a drizzle, so I decided that I would still go ahead. As I walked to the station, I noticed that most of the shops were closed and there was hardly anyone on the streets, possibly because they had all sought shelter somewhere.
The train ride took 10 minutes longer because of the connected train lines that were delayed by the typhoon, but I figured out everything would be okay by the time I reached Tamachi.
How wrong could I be!
I tried to take the overhead passing to Tsutaya, but the wind was so strong it blew my umbrella OUT OF SHAPE and I couldn't even walk in a straight line. I am not featherlight, but I swear I was almost blown away.
I ran back to the station, defeated and wondering how on earth Melissa could pick me up in this weather as well.
I decided to try a different route, so I walked the basement and somehow managed to get to the crossing. By that time I was fully wet and feeling very stupid, and when the green man came on I ran for dear life straight into Tsutaya.
Melissa took a while to come, but she turned up to be in more of a mess than I was, and we both laughed at how crazy we were. Her umbrella was also completely destroyed by the rain.
After getting our membership cards and picking out our movies, we bravely soldiered the rain without our umbrellas and half-screamed and half-ran our way back to her apartment. We saw a dozen or so umbrellas strewn along the streets plus banners and signs that had been torn down by the typhoon, and you should know by now we were the only fools out in the open, endangering our lives for the sake of a slumber party.
Thankfully, we made it back safely to her apartment and treated ourselves to hot showers and freshly brewed Starbucks coffee.