27 December 2008

Sayonara Juliane

Being in Japan for more than years, Juliane left on December 20th for London. After david, - his departure somewhat related to hers - and Marek, this is the third hard core Positivo Espresso member that left Japan in 2008 and I feel very much obliged to write something about it - from my own perspective.
In the last two years we have something like a Positivo Espresso Team and Juliane was one of our core members. Needs more to be written?

Going back very much in time, Juliane came to Japan with the same scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service as I did. She stayed on and could somehow convince a German curtain wall maker to establish her as a representative in Japan. Which she than did despite all obstacles for a very long time, considering the average shelf-life of (in particular female) expats in Japan.
Juliane did a lot of interesting things here and I am glad that I could be part of some of them. She tried to sell my crappy sandwich panels from SKW when I was still working for Schindler Elevator.

She lived in Gotanda and an old wooden house with a huge garden by Japanese standards and invited us every year for cherry blossom viewing. One night we were all sitting in the garden, a strong wind blew through the trees and the cherry blossoms fell down in huge clouds, just like snow flakes. It was most beautiful and impressive.
I in turn took her and her boyfriend at this time, Nils, to my favourite hair dresser in Jiyugaoka which was almost the end of our friendship. We shared some of our secrets nevertheless.
I guess the first time we were riding on a bike together was in 2001, when Johanna, Tom (my boss at Schindler), Juliane and me embarked on the first Yamanote Challenge, a round trip along the 42 km long Yamanote line, stopping at each of the 28 stations and taking photos of all three of us. It took us eight hours. Which was mainly due to the time the photo taking took, we had to ask a harmless bystander and explain him what we want. I did not even have a digital camera at this time.

We did some races then together when we both joined Tamagawa cyclists (then : Veloz) and we were together at the first race I ever attended, Tsukuba seven hours endurance in 2003. And we raced also at Shuzenji and then later at Saiko the same year.

We had times when we were closer and we had times when we were not. We met often and we didn't. It was not always easy with here, but out of the hundreds of friends she made in Japan, I was one of the few that accompanied her from the beginning to the end of her stay here. I am not the one that took her to new shores, although.
By chance I watched "Balzac and the little Chinese Seamstress" on video which includes a scene when the little Chinese Seamstress is leaving her small mountain village and parting from her lover and her friend to search for new luck in the big city. There is no relation whatsoever between this story and the story I am trying to tell about Juliane. But the sadness is about the same.

Goodbye. Sayonara.

4 comments:

TOM said...

Although I can count the rides I enjoyed together with her on one hand, I entirely share Michael's sadness and feeling of emptiness now this sometimes naughty but always very sensuous queen of the road no longer adorns the mountains of this country...

Juliane said...

Tom, calm down old horse... ;)

TOM said...

Will try to !! Old horse...I kind of like that...does sound better than dirty old man. Take care Juliane and say hi to david!

David L. said...

Au Revoir, Juliane.

When the Positivo Espresso train rides at fast pace, we often pass other groups of cyclists (well, at least we do on the flats and on descents). These others usually soldier on without a glance at us ... but I never fail to feel a palpable sense of awe and admiration from these poor souls left in our wake when we are riding with Juliane. In fact, I sometimes sense the same even when the riders are PASSING US (usually going UP the hills).

There is just something incredibly impressive about her ... there would be anywhere in the world, but it is especially so in Japan and when she is flying by on a road bike. Many "double takes." She is taller, sleeker, faster and more stylish than anyone else on the road (De Rosa! Lightweight wheels! Assos! 6 ft tall woman! blond hair in pony tail! ... pushing me up a hill with one hand on my back!). Michael, Jerome and I will each need to lose 10-15 kg (especially me) and boost our average speeds 3-5 kph in order to get anywhere near the respect we command when riding with Juliane.

My cyclist friends back in Washington DC were green with envy when I sent them photos of our early rides. "Who is the goddess of cycling with you," they asked???

I wish David J. and Juliane the very best of luck in London, where I have no doubt she will make a big splash and prove a success on her own terms. I cannot wait for David J. and her to join Jerome and me for our "victory stages" in the latter half of the transalp next summer. Until we meet again!

David L.