Fukuoka kara ai wo komete – With love from Fukuoka
After a 16-hour redeye flight I reached Fukuoka to attend the 32nd Congress of the Société Internationale d’Urologie. This is our largest international urology society with representatives from 29 countries around the World.
I was tired and ravenous but excited about my Albert Schweitzer Teaching Award from the SIU – this would be the fourth time the SIU had selected someone for the award.
After managing to rest for a couple of hours after a Japanese pizza lunch, that evening we boarded our chartered buses for the Museum venue hosting the award ceremony.
I was very happy to meet my friends from Kenya, Ghana, India, South Africa, UK, USA, France, Germany and around the World. I regaled in their congratulations. It was a glitzy and spectacular event.
In my acceptance speech I thanked the SIU for their consideration and acknowledged the fact there are many friends equally deserving of this honor.
Watashi no kokoro ha ima mo Nagasaki ni arimasu – I left my heart in Nagasaki
I decided to make a trip to Nagasaki. Several years ago I had visited Hiroshima and the haunting memory of that visit was still vivid.
I took the train from the Fukuoka’s beautiful Hakata Station for the two-hour ride to Nagasaki, where I boarded the sight-seeing bus. We visited the Atomic Bomb Museum with photographic exhibits and mementos including a replica of Fat Man, the atomic bomb that devastated the city.
It was quite a somber experience.
We continued to the Peace Memorial Park adorned with many beautiful sculptures, donated by different countries. A peace temple reminding us of the atomic bomb dropped by the US with its wanton killing of Japanese citizens and long standing injuries from nuclear exposure.
It was saddening to think that Humanity has not learnt its lesson from war, and its sequels still raging in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya etc.
The clash of imperial hegemony with orthodox extremism continues to stifle the hope for a peaceful world for our children.
Shall we ever learn that love can heal and transcend all sectarianism?
The remaining days were spent attending the spectacular academic meeting, running from hall to hall listening to, and participating in, presentations and discussions.
On SIU Night the famous Nakasu Kawabata Shopping Arcade was adorned with welcome messages for the SIU. There were entertainers performing Japanese music, dance and colorful marches all accompanied by unlimited food served from faux street stalls and flowing libations for the delegates.
We all agreed that the Japanese were the quintessential hosts.
On Wednesday morning I delivered my Albert Schweitzer oration on “Global Disparities in Access to Surgery – A Humanitarian Crisis”.
My friends were complimentary about my lecture.
His highness, the Crown Prince attended our Congress and the security arrangements were mind boggling. But the overall ambience of Japan, the wonderfully amiable people, the civic discipline and generosity was unforgettable.
Our Congress ended with a spectacular gala banquet. The dinner items were out of this world, but I had to control myself to avoid the delectable Kobe steak.
After 5 days of academia, camaraderie and Japanese bonhomie, I was happy to return home. But I said :
Watashi ha mata nihon he modori mass
Japan, I shall return…