Friday, 2 April 2010

My lucky hat

I've just returned from a week-long trip to Tokyo. To make sure everything went smoothly, I took along my lucky Italian felt hat.

I bought the hat in Florence in 1994 during a trip to Switzerland, Italy, France, and London. From memory it was at San Lorenzo Market, where I'd earlier resisted buying a leather jacket despite the stall owner's insistence that he had one "just for me," a line I found about as convincing as the one from the man standing outside the Indian restaurant in Avignon, who, on hearing that I was from New Zealand and Mrs Fool from Japan, exclaimed, "Ah, Japan, India and New Zealand form a triangle!"

Guy in hat with bicycle (Paris, 1994)

And although I'm not generally superstitious by nature, it's hard to ignore the fact that since then I haven't been involved in a single hijacking, plane crash, kidnapping, or other major calamity overseas while I've had my Italian felt hat with me.

On the other hand, I didn't have my Italian felt hat with me the day in March 2005 when, while bicycling through the picturesque countryside near the town of Ubud on Bali, I fell victim to a daring young motorcycle-mounted thief who lifted my bag containing my video camera from the basket in front of my very eyes before speeding off into the distance. (The loss of the camera I quickly came to terms with, but the loss of the film inside it, which contained footage I'd shot at Borobudur a few days earlier, was a real shock.)

Neither did I have my Italian felt hat with me on the ferry from Mandalay to Bagan in February 2007 when I suffered food poisoning, robbing me of the best part of two days of my five days in Bagan, one of the most beautiful places on earth, where I also had the misfortune of renting an Indian bicycle whose chain came off no fewer than three times in the course of a single morning (although on each occasion I was aided in getting it back on by kind and enterprising locals, one using a machete and another a metal Chinese soup spoon).

My trip to Tokyo was a resounding success. But who knows what disasters would have befallen me had I not taken my lucky hat.

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