I got pretty excited about this new route I discovered on Google Maps to get to Friend Mart. The highlight was that I could avoid the 100 steps. With a map screenshot (since WiFi is non existent outside the campus!), and the route engraved in my mind, I set out for a solitary walk. I had nothing specific to buy. It was just a walk I needed, and some time to myself. Exploring the place and the new route were cool add-ons! I was greatly disappointed when I learnt that the gate was closed and I couldn’t really explore the new found path. Google Maps aren’t so accurate after all; blame the locked gate! Nevertheless, I went by the regular route, anticipating new things. Walking by the pond, there were more people than ever in that scenic route. Ladies walking their dogs, kids playing, and some daring ones, leaning on to the pond, fishing, elderly on their evening strolls – the place finally looked like a residential area! That’s where I met this old man, who turned out to be an alumnus of the University. His enthusiasm on learning that I am from India and studying his University was real and moving. He kept talking in broken English, with a vigour that is seen only people from the older generation. The grace with which he walked with me and said goodbye at the supermarket is one of the many reasons that makes one look upto people in Japan, especially the elderly.
Another intriguing aspect about people here is about the kids here. The tiny little tots to school going teenagers are all known for their self sufficiency, here in Japan. But it amazes me to see kids play in the muddy mushy grass, go fishing without adult supervision, hop on to a bus all by themselves and a lot more. Its hard to catch such a glimpse back there from where I come to see kids relishing the nature without health and safety ‘concerns’! That’s new-gen parenting for you, where parents have no clue what to freak out about and what not. It was a heartwarming sight that kids here have the childhood that kids in India had two decades ago – the one with freedom to embrace nature at its best!