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Sit, please Sitt

Tokyo: stop

He nods at the chair and, I’m going to attempt phonetic accuracy here, intones me to “sitt a huwhyle”.

When you’re a new guest in another man’s home you do as you’re told. And so it is.

Uzbekistan’s Tokyo embassy is a residential conversion, tucked in the back streets between Meguro, Yutenji and Gakku Gaidaigaku and comes with all the trimmings you’d expect from a building that’s seen a lifetime of domesticity, now press-ganged into the service of the state. The kitchen in which I’m sitting is now the receiving area for visa applicants and my working folder with the photos, LOI, application & cash is sprawled out in front of me. He slides the LOI from the table and disappears into another room.

Which provides plenty of time to take in this kitchen nee embassy scene: an interior probably built to the tune of McCartney being deported; slatted cabinets in dark woods; an oven with its light flashing 00:00 topped by an extractor unit made from beaten copper. Sunning itself by the window sits a pink ceramic hippo – its mouth wide open as if letting forth a post-lunch yawn – rather apt since it is, in fact a cookie jar. The only thing out of sync here are five padded office chairs straight out of the Fellowes catalogue,

Most of this year’s work visa applications have thankfully been dealt with by my travel agency, so being here in person means one of two things – either I’m on a tight deadline and can’t afford the extra days they take shuttling to and fro, or its that time of the year for a bit of leisure travel.

Take your pick.

6 weeks to switch off from corporate life and everything that comes with it, somewhere along the way maintain tradition of finding tranquility in friends, culture, altitude and the bitter, bitter cold. It’s been quite a year and is about time to think through the next.

On the way out I glance down a side corridor – flat screen sits on a desk in anotherwise empty room. Four images from four static security cameras.

Two days later the gent from the embassy calls “yourr visa is rready for pickkupp”.

11,600 yen (72 Euro) buys a triple-entry month-long visa and a wry smile.