Handbag lost, handbag regained

By on April 4, 2008

John Milton wrote Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained about man’s fall from paradise and his struggle to regain divine grace. Today in Tokyo, I write the epic saga of my handbag.

Hoping to do some bargain shopping at Shibuya’s Tokyu Plaza, I had my handbag with me, light, new and bling, and I felt as if I was on top of the world. As usual, at the entrance to the Plaza, there were numerous salespeople, waving magazines, tissue packs, green tea and restaurant flyers. I got in at last, jostled a little by the crowd and advanced to the basement by escalator. The seafood section of the plaza had some great bargains that I quickly seized. I went for my bag, but… I had to do a double take––it was gone! Ten thousand yen aside, my new bag contained my Alien Registration Card and my ATM cards––what a nightmare!

I went to the Tokyu store’s “Lost & Found” section and tried to explain what had happened. That was quite difficult, as the lady spoke no English except for “Police Station,” and the only Japanese I spoke was “Handobagu losto!” I made my way towards Shibuya Police Station, shedding tears like a cloudburst and blubbering forth my tale of woe. A sympathetic young policewoman patted me on my back, offered me packs of tissues and asked me the exact measurements of the bag. Well, call me a fool, but never in my life have I measured my handbags! I felt like an errant high school student. She shook her head, noted down my tentative attempts and then offered me a ruler to make my job easier. When I finally finished drawing the bag, she gave me a final pat on my back and handed me another tissue pack and asked me to come back a week later.

After five days of moping over my loss, I decided to put my sleuthing knowledge (derived from reading tons of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Inspector Banks and John Rebus mysteries) to use. I tried to retrace my steps back to the scene of the crime/loss (I still couldn’t remember whether the purse was snatched or it had just slipped out of my hand). I went to Tully’s and the Ginza Cozy Corner confectioners, but to no avail. I then entered the JR Shibuya Station. The Lost & Found section had two officers who patiently listened to my well-versed tale of woe and asked me the date of the incident and again, the measurement and contents of the bag. By this time however, I had become an accomplished handbag artist and duly submitted my piece. Well, they must have been more than satisfied with my sketching, because they delved into a cupboard and brought out my bag! Everything inside was intact, including the cash!

This epic tale began with my foolishness––misplacing my brand-new bag. However after a few twists and turns, including suspenseful interactions with Japanese store clerks, police and station staff, the story came to a happy conclusion––highlighting the helpfulness and friendliness of our host country’s citizens.

I’ll leave all you absent-minded ladies out there with a few words of advice: don’t forget to measure your purses and bags on purchase and make a note of the exact dimensions (perhaps take a photo to avoid the aforementioned “artist’s impression” scenario) and most importantly: hang onto your handbag at all times!

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