A few weeks back, as I waited for some gyoza at a Japanese cafe, I looked around only to stop at a girl sitting on the far stool by the counter, talking to the owner. It looked like an interview. The owner was often distracted by the customers, but the girl maintained her poise. She would glance across, trying to absorb the place. I could detect half a smile aimed in no particular direction on her face, only to return to seriousness when the owner came back to talk to her. It was an interesting face. I started to sketch.
Last weekend, a couple of alleys away from that cafe, I was looking for dinner. A boy at an Izakaya called out to me. He tried to explain the food but he was not fluent in English - they hire for Japanese language skills in this part of town. I heard a voice in English. I turned around to see another member of their staff. She calmly explained the menu.
I recognised her as the person in my sketch. I pulled out my phone and showed her the sketch, expecting her to kick me for my amateur depiction of her. Turned out she was pleased with it. I even got an invitation for her hometown food. You can travel half the world. But there is no point if you can’t make a stranger smile.