Perfect Win – Day 4

June 28, 2006

I feel a little isolated from the other lab rats. Last week there was another bunch here, testing a blood thinner drug (we’re doing something do to with haemoglobin levels). That collection of guys included quite a few Americans and Aussies, fun people to hang with, but my group has a majority of northern Europeans – Dutch, Swedish, French. Which is fine, and they are a fine bunch, except our senses of humour aren’t quite meshing yet. My jokes don’t make it through the first time round and I have to do some explaining. It’s just a language thing. Its also partially true for my roommate, an Israeli musician who makes polyphonic mobile phone ring tones. I placed some chocolates on his pillow today. It was meant to be a gag based on a joke we shared earlier this morning about how bad the service is in this “hotel”. Like, there’s no room service or ensuite bathroom, and the staff are constantly ignoring the “no interruptions” sign hanging on the door. The chocolates looked really good because the staff here had actually and unexpectedly changed our bedding whilst we were in town. I folded down one corner to complete the illusion of maid service. Anyway, my roommate came back from his shower and brushed them off his pillow without noticing.

Kamikaze Pilot Self-portrait

Today was another rest day and they let us out for the afternoon. I visited a local museum for Kamikaze pilots. The Kamikaze were fighter pilots during World War 2 that committed suicide by crashing into enemy ships in order to sink them. I always thought the suicide thing was a kind of last minute decision based on whether they had successfully bombed anything, or had enough fuel to return to base. Or something like that, but no, it turns out their missions were planned in intent. They drank a final farewell cup of shochu, a Japanese liquor, said good bye to their wives, girlfriends and mothers and climbed into the cockpits of their planes that were packed with explosives, wearing a special headband with the phrase “Perfect Win” written on it in kanji.

Kamikaze Pilot

The exhibit mainly consisted of a restored fighter plane, dredged up from the ocean floor in the Philippines, surrounded by photographs of individually named pilots. There were hundreds. Most of them were very young, and some had drawn adolescent portraits of themselves. It was very sad.

Kamikaze Plane (detail)

The plane they dragged out of the ocean was riddled with rust and pock marks from ordinance. It prompted me to look down at my own needle-marked arm. There were also a number of military nurse uniforms on display at the museum. Our nurses don’t dress up as much, though.

Japanese Military Nurse Uniform

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