Hiroko from Kyoto – Conversations with tourists – by Mark Ulyseas
(Names and places have been changed. Conversation edited for coherency and brevity. This is first in a multi-part series.)
Hiroko is petite. She is 40 years old and a virgin. Hair, shoulder length, black. Clothes just so and colour coordinated. Roman sandals, black. Hands, that of child of six…smooth with black nail polish…matt finish. Toe nails clipped but not painted.
Are you a tourist?, she asked.
No, I reply.
Good then I can talk knowing I will never meet you again, she replies and laughs. And continues writing on foolscap paper.
What are you writing? Which language?
Japanese. I write about sex and tourism.
Sex and tourism? You mean sex tourism?
No, I mean sex and tourism. They are both the same thing. Both appeal to the baser instincts – voyeurism. The inquisitiveness to know what lies ahead. How other people do it, live it and eat it…food etc., it is all very sensual. The customs, particularly the religious aspects. The commonness of the concept of virgins, virginity, phallic symbols and gods and goddesses, fornicating angels and more. And the music, the music excites our nervous system and regenerates our beings…I have written my thoughts, here on this paper…would you like to read?
I don’t know Japanese…sorry…perhaps you can translate?
Yes…this is good, she replies and begins reading in english.
I am 40 years old. A virgin. I choose to be so because I like travelling and travelling brings the joys of life to me in a way sex can never ever…it excites all my senses and I always have memories and smells of places stored within me…after all tourism is voyeurism with consent, paid consent and no guilt like a sexual hangover. All I need to feel happy is to remember one of my travels and perhaps pleasure myself. It makes me one with the experience. And no baggage of having to carry around another person in mind and soul…how tiresome…how sad that people need others to be ‘present’ and to enjoy in this fascinating world.
The people I meet while travelling are too preoccupied with where they came from and where they are travelling to, to be ‘present’ in the moment to enjoy the moment like salivating salamanders congregating around a tube light munching on flying insects.
I once accompanied a young couple back to their hotel, watched them eat each other, like eating man’s best friend. They invited me to join them. I didn’t. I couldn’t because there was nothing magical, just the smell of body odours and cigarette smoke. The girl had a boyfriend back home and the man was married…so this was just biological. The French call it la petite mort, the little death. How depressing. I was bored. The meaning of belonging is not about owning another or being owned, it’s about understanding the purpose of meeting others. I prefer verbal intercourse for it becomes a part of me, my very own…to take with me wherever I travel.
Animals fornicate when in heat. Humans when their gastric juices trigger their desire. Perhaps it is what they eat that instigates this desire. I remember this group of back packers who were loud and drinking a lot of beer and chewing on dried strips of buffalo skin. Soon they were touching each other and then two men began kissing…their hands clasping each other under the table. I watched in amusement. The restaurant owner asked them to leave. I followed them down a bylane but lost them in the darkness…I wanted to see how it would end. The next day I returned to the café and saw them…sitting opposite each other wearing ugly faces…there was no love. Yes, I guess the French are right about the little death. We die a little every time we make love…I really don’t understand why we use the term ‘make love’, when it is everything else… but this.
I have a friend. She is married. Married for a long time. Whenever she saves enough money she travels. And in some cities when she finds someone appealing she shares herself without protection of body and soul. She has never fallen ill. Travel makes her very happy. Every time I meet her she appears younger. Is travel or the sex making her younger? Or is it the voyeurism that acts like the elixir of life?
Hummm…you see what I am saying?
Just think how life would be if you were married, had children and lived with your partner in one place, one home for the rest of your life? I think this is the little death. Without regular travel, without new places, new food and without breathing in the air of exotic places how can one be aroused…body and soul?
I have never felt the need to be one with anyone. Either at home or on my travels. How can I? How can I share this body without succumbing to mind control of the other…submission is like rape of a kind. There can never be an equal relationship, just like there can never be ‘equal’ cultures…everyone, everything is equal with itself and therefore does not need to be compared to another. This, I think, is the problem with many of the tourists I have met and I continue to meet. Comparing other cultures is like comparing body parts…size, texture, colour and smell. There is no usefulness in this.
Recently I toured India where I met a sage, half naked wearing an orange robe and wooden slippers (Paduka). He moved back in shock when I reached out to touch his robe. He admonished me and said that I should never attempt to touch him because his energy would be ‘stolen’ by my spirit. He needed his energy to be one with the universal spirit…that is why he also wore wooden slippers because it prevented his energy from dissipating into the earth under his feet. And that he needed nothing from me but to be left alone. This was contrary to what I was told by other women tourists who had had different experiences with sages in India. So I guess I was lucky to have met the right one.
Now I understand why it is important to be a virgin, biologically. A travelling virgin.
Now I understand why life is so beautiful if left untouched, unblemished by the loveless urges of the others.
Now I understand why I am who I am.
My name is Hiroko. I am from Kyoto Prefecture. Nice to meet you and thank you for listening to me. Now I go. Goodbye.
She got up and left like a butterfly that had just sat on my shoulder.
© Mark Ulyseas