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Harley guide makes good on flight attendant’s plight

by Minoru Matsutani

David Macklin, a dual citizen of Australia and Britain, said meeting his future wife, Yoriko Suzuki, in Cairns, Australia, in May 1999 was a matter of fate.

They met by coincidence. David, a guest relations officer at the hotel where Yoriko, then a Cathay Pacific flight attendant, stayed, presented himself as a Harley-Davidson-riding guide to lure her on a tour.

The Cairns-Hong Kong relationship developed fast. A month later, he proposed to her in Hong Kong.

David, 39, is now a manager of the Four Seasons Hotel in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, while Yoriko, 36, has become a housewife. They have lived in Tokyo since March 2007.

Their daughter, Reika Suzuki-Macklin, 7, will enter an international school in April. Their son, Kai Suzuki-Macklin, 5, goes to a Japanese kindergarten.

How did you meet?

David: I was living in Cairns, working at a hotel. Yoriko came to stay in May 1999. I had lived in Japan for two years until 1998.

Yoriko: I was a flight attendant and wanted to fly to Cairns for a long time. That was the only time I flew there. After I arrived in Cairns, the pilots went on strike so our stay was extended to nine days.

David: On the day I met Yoriko, I was scheduled to work the morning shift, but my colleague asked me to change her night shift with my morning shift. So I changed the shift. I was lucky because Yoriko came down. She asked me for directions to Ayers Rock, but there was no such tour at short notice.

Yoriko: Then he told me there was a sightseeing tour riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. So I went to the hotel lobby at 4 p.m. the next day as he told me.

Then came a guy wearing a black helmet, sunglasses and all-black clothes. When he took off his sunglasses, I realized it was him.

That night, I had dinner with him and his sister’s boyfriend at his place.

David: It was fate. If it wasn’t for me being considerate to my colleague and changing shifts, and then if it wasn’t for the pilots’ strike, we wouldn’t have met.

What happened after Yoriko left Cairns?

Yoriko: I went back to Hong Kong, where I was based. I was going to Eastern Europe with my friend, but her mother got sick and couldn’t go. I had a two-week holiday and didn’t know what to do. Then David told me to come to Cairns again, so I did. He had planned tours and it was great. Then I went back to Hong Kong, and he took a holiday to come to Hong Kong two weeks later. It was June that year.

How did you propose?

David: It was in Hong Kong. It was my first time in Hong Kong. She showed me around, took me to many places. Then we went to a restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel. It was so perfect. The view of the harbor and Victoria Peak. We had a nice glass of wine. And it just came out of my mouth. “Will you marry me?”

Yoriko: I asked him a question, I don’t remember what. Then he thought for a while. Instead of answering, he popped the question. I lost my appetite for happiness and shock. That was a full course, but I couldn’t eat anything.

David: It was the moment I had to catch. This had only been five weeks since we met. Sometimes you know the right things to do. And you just have to grasp the moment.

How did it go when you met Yoriko’s parents?

David: We met Yoriko’s parents in Osaka in September 1999. We planned the whole day going to Osaka Castle, downtown sights and a perfect dinner with the four of us. I practiced “keigo” (honorific speech) learning from a Japanese friend of mine in Cairns.

Yoriko: I told my parents I would bring a boyfriend from Australia. I didn’t tell them he had proposed to me, but thought they would figure it out because he was coming a long way. My parents were both feeling good drinking wine. When we had dessert, he said, “Ojosan to kekkon sasete itadakemasenka?” (“Will you let me marry your daughter?”). My parents froze. My mother said, “Congratulations” after 30 or 40 seconds of silence. My father never spoke that night. The next day, the four of us went on an “onsen” (hot spring) trip, and I was relieved to see David and my father drinking beer together and talking happily.

How did it go when you met David’s parents?

Yoriko: I went to Adelaide in December 1999. I was welcomed warmly, received Christmas presents and birthday presents as my birthday is Dec. 27. His parents, grandmother, his younger sister with her family and her single elder sister were there.

How was your wedding?

Yoriko: We had it in Adelaide in April 24, 2000. Not in Osaka or Hong Kong. It was not a religious one. Someone licensed to marry people pronounced us as married.

How was it when you changed your last name from Suzuki to Suzuki-Macklin?

Yoriko: I went to City Hall, and they said I needed the court’s permission. Later, I went to a court and was asked questions, like why I didn’t want Macklin for my last name. I told them my bank account’s name is Suzuki-Macklin.

David: I wanted to make my last name Suzuki-Macklin as well. In Australia, it’s easy to change your name. You go into an office, fill out a form, show a wedding certificate and passport, wait for 20 minutes, then I would become Suzuki-Macklin. But I would have to live in Australia as Yoriko’s husband for 90 days. So I didn’t change it.

Who moved where to live together?

David: I moved to Hong Kong. I quit my job and just left.

Yoriko: He told me it would be easier for him to move to Hong Kong to find a hotel job than for me to move to Cairns to find a flight attendant job.

Where else did you live?

David: We moved to Washington, D.C., in October 2001. I was working for the Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong and I was transferred.

Yoriko: I quit Cathay Pacific and went through a job interview for the Four Seasons in D.C., but 9/11 happened and the hotel was having much fewer guests, so they could not hire me. Soon I got pregnant, so I have been a housewife since then.

What language do you speak to your children?

David: Eighty percent English and 20 percent Japanese.

Yoriko: One hundred percent Japanese.

David: Yoriko and I speak “Japlish” to each other. This consists of 80 percent English and 20 percent Japanese.

What language do your children speak to you?

Yoriko: When I speak to them, they both respond in Japanese only.

David: When I speak to them, they reply in English most of the time. But during the school holidays, they tend to speak more Japanese and therefore I have to keep reminding them to respond in English to me.

Yoriko: Our kids speak Japanese to each other unless they are in Adelaide visiting relatives. When we lived in D.C., they mostly spoke Japanese.

Did Reika resist going to an international school?

Yoriko: Yes, at first. But she liked being able to go to school by bicycle and having snacks there. Once she started going, she enjoyed it.

Where will you live in the future?

David: With my job, we (could move anywhere in) the Asia-Pacific area, depending on where a job is available.

Yoriko: Maybe Australia in the long term.

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