Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cath├ędrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for W├╝rzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

My & his escapades

Isn’t it wonderful that the boy has been found, safe and sound!!

Hubbie and I were sitting at one of the outside tables at Look Mum No Hands on Old Street…

While we waited for our lunch, we discussed about the news of the 7 years old Japanese boy who went missing for the past 6 days. ‘It is pretty remarkable that a 7 years old child can be so resilient and resourceful in such a sticky situation!’ We both marvelled at the turn of the event. Obviously, the boy was fortunate to come across in his path a shelter with a working tap which protected him from the elements and kept him hydrated – two most important factors for his survival. And also, a team of soldiers who were happened to be on site for training that day. The outcome could have easily been a tragic one if he was found too late. 

‘Did I ever tell you that I also ran away from home when I was three?’

Yes, I did run away from home when I was three years old. Even though, it lasted only for five hours, not six days, my escapade caused more than consternation to my poor parents and the people who joined a search for me. 

‘How did it happened? Why did you do it?’ Hubbie asked me as our plates of Frittata and salad were brought to the table…

Ok, I was a very independent minded girl (or very wilful) and one day, I took off when I found my mum’s behaviour unreasonable. 

One afternoon, I forgot to put away my toys after I finished playing with them and mum reprimanded me for it. She threatened me that she would throw them out if I didn’t tidy up as I was told. I remember thinking ‘Oh, that’s a bit extreme!’ So, I stuffed my little case with favourite toys and left home without telling her that I was moving in with my gramma in Tokyo!

Soon, my mum noticed my absence and realised that I ran away. She called my dad at work and also alerted our neighbours. My dad went straight to a local police station to report about me missing, and the rest of the search party spread to all directions to look for me. Apparently, my panic-stricken mum stumbled while she was trotting in her mules and grazed her shin badly, and she is still left with a scar to this day – Sorry, mum! 

While all the grown-ups got lost amid the pandemonium, I was standing at the gate of my local zoo. I knew then, as any three years old child, that a train would take me to Tokyo, where my gramma resided. There was a mini monorail at the zoo and I believed it would take me there. However, the zoo was closed at 5pm and the gate was shut. ‘Oh no, what do I do now?’ I remember me being aghast while looking at the immovable monorail through the iron gate. Then, someone called my name, ‘Kaori? Is that you?’ I turned around and saw a police officer and his push bike. ‘What are you doing in here? Your mum and dad are very worried about you’. The way the long shadow of him and his bike being casted over the Tarmac, I can still visualise vividly. The sun was setting and all the things around me were in different tones of amber. As we walked back to the police station in where my dad awaited anxiously, I explained to the officer why I ran away and went to the zoo. I heard from dad years later that the officer found my reasoning pretty impressive for a three years old (!) The last thing I remember was how euphoric the people were when I got home. I was very worried about being told off about the incident, but no one chastised me. Instead, I found myself in the middle of  the mini party to celebrate my safe return.

I am so happy to see his cheeky smile…

I am sure he missed his parents a lot during his sojourn in the forest…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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