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Category: Japan Days

JaDa – Day 25

The Golden Week holidays finally began for us, and that meant we just stayed in the hostel, cuddling the laptop and phone, in our own rooms. I wonder what’s the right balance. If there’s work, there’s too much of it that we don’t have time for anyone, let alone oneself. If there’s no work, then there’s too less of it that we sulk and curl into a ball. By we, I mean me. Or is it really just me?

JaDa – Day 24

Food food everywhere, not a bit to eat – this is my normal emotion here. Ever since we discovered the online grocery delivery place, I have been all excited for Kerala Porotta and more food. And finally, the parcel arrived today! And I had porotta the crisp and hand swirled multi layer bread! An otherwise dull may be cheered up by a tiny morsel of food; at least for me, it works so easy that way.

JaDa – Day 23

Out of the blue, I found me and Divya sitting in a bus to Minami Kusatsu for no real reason. All good so far, as we went around the place, explored some shops, got some food – all good. And like normal people, we got into a bus back to hostel. Like normal people, again, we didn’t fuss about whether it would take us to our destination until we realised that it won’t! When we were the last people in the bus, finally it felt like a good time to talk to the driver. It was all Japanese versus English, and we rested our case by repeating ‘Ritsumeikan, Ritsumeikan’. Poor guy seemed to understand that it was pointless to say anything more, and asked us to sit down. He drove in silence and took us to the nearest possible point in his route, and stopped the bus. We took on the cue and showered him with Arigato as we got down. We walked back to the hostel through the campus. In the backdrop of a calm moonlit night, the campus looked more beautiful than ever. And I wondered if we could just stay at the campus overnight, and work from here. I like it when our thoughts sync, like this one!

JaDa – Day 22

As though one day’s rest wasn’t enough, I woke up sick today. I didn’t want to move a limb, let alone get up from the bed. Such days are awesome when at home. But here at a new place, with nobody to talk to, with nothing to do, I felt like I was caged by my own body. It was a dull tiring boring day, until Divya showed up in the evening. By then, I had enough energy to get up from bed and move around. And I sat down talking to her. I now relate to a lot of people, who have had most of their lives just waiting for someone to return home and have human company.

JaDa – Day 21

After the long day yesterday, we all slid into our comfort zones for today. The routine continued – some washing, some cooking, some cleaning. It was a plain simple day and the lull had begun to set in. And then Vidya calls me and reminds me how ‘boring’ I am. She makes fun of me how I have more of amma in me, who was apparently doing the same washing and cleaning and cooking. Kids these days! 🙂

JaDa – Day 20

Weekend again and we planned another trip; this time to Nara – the deer park. Getting to Kyoto, we took another train to Nara without much hassle. It was a reasonable long journey, in a fairly crowded train. We didn’t get nearby seats and I sat with three women, apparently a daughter-mother-grandmother trio. In less than five minutes, with no language whatsoever, they struck a rapport and offered cherry blossom candy to me. And in return, I offered them Kaccha Mango bites. Them, as me, were surprised by the new taste. The oldest of the ladies was very excited to talk to me, and she did; but all in Japanese. It was less awkward and more fun trying to tell her that I had no idea what’s happening in the conversation.

After a 45-minute journey, we reached Nara station. Gathering enough info from the tourist information counter, we set out to see the deers in and around Todaiji Temple and the famous Buddha shrine.  The UNESCO World Heritage Site was a sight of awe and admiration. The 50 meter tall shrine of Buddha was more close to heart, after the briefing by our guide, Taka. Taka, a nice gentleman who appeared to be in his late 50s or more, took us around the place and explained the history of the temple. From him, we learnt that Nara was once the capital of Japan, and that the stone pavement in front of the temple had a story, and also that India was a dominant part in the shared history of the two countries.

I have never felt so proud to be an Indian as I now feel in a foreign land, where I go crazy about the Indian stones in the pavement, about the sculpture that resembles Lord Krishna, about the Sanskrit writings inside the temple, and a lot more. I went so crazy that I started randomly talking to a lady. She was looking at the lantern on which was the sculpture that resembled Lord Krishna. And I felt ‘obliged’ to let her know the possible Indian connection of the lantern! It was then I was first confronted about the ‘mysterious’ tattoo-like thing on my forehead. She wondered if my bindi was perhaps the third eye; popular belief goes something like, Buddha’s third eye is where the cosmic light originates from. I was baffled by the unexpected question, but all the more wanted to explain about Lord Shiva and the third eye as well. Thanks to Divya for stopping me from going out of control!

It was deers everywhere, and also were the sign boards that said that deers are wild animals. Honestly, I was scared. I didn’t want to linger around much. I tried and walked past a crazy lot of deers, as Divya and Saikat stayed back and fed the deers some rice crackers. That’s when I got my hands on the cherry blossom ice cream. Sakura is a fad, and yet I fall for it! It tasted good, but not awesome special! Perhaps, that’s the last time I fall for Sakura.

With a brief little shopping, we called it a day at Nara and took the train back to Kyoto. Meanwhile, I found a French cafe finally at Nara station. I have been looking for one since I somehow hope to find something vegetarian to eat at a place that’s not authentic Japanese. I am glad I did, and I hope to find more of ‘Vie de France’ in Japan! My food happiness rose to a whole new level at Kyoto station, when we found a store that sold MTR ready-to-eat aviyal! My faith of survival has been reinstated, once again!

JaDa – Day 19

Once in a while, Divya pings me or I her for a break from work. And we just walk by the campus reflecting on the day so far. And sometimes, it goes into a deeper conversation about a lot of other things around us. Today was one such, perhaps the longest conversation I have ever had with her. The beauty was not in the duration, but in the realisation that we did not see time pass by. The best thing about talking to her is how she just randomly brings up a person’s name and start talking about them. Not for once have I asked who the person is. I like how the story unfolds and I slowly learn more about the person as she goes on. I wonder if she has ever known this about herself!

JaDa – Day 18

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!

JaDa – Day 17

When everything goes wrong, you turn to food. Rather, I do. Nothing was so wrong today; just another dull day. Divya wasn’t around either. All the more reason to be bored and dull. And I walked to Shiru Cafe for an iced coffee. But what awaited me was the most amazing cake I have had here so far. Soft chocolaty layer, topped with almonds, one bit tasted like rich chocolate, another like premium plum, and yet another like some crazy soft cake! I have not enough words to describe my satisfaction biting into that chocolate delicacy!

All that said, I begin to doubt myself and wonder if I have lost my mind in all the lack of food options. Maybe this is all my desperation hyping it up. Or maybe, the muffin was just totally awesome!?

JaDa – Day 16

The drizzle that never stops is annoying. But very homely annoying. It reminds me of the incessant rains back home, that annoyed me while I went to school, college and later office. Rain was always a part and parcel of life. And when it continues here on the other part of the continent, I am home sick. I don’t miss amma and appa, or even Vidya much. I see them, talk to them, and almost feel like I am with them – thanks to the technology! What technology still hasn’t progressed on is the tiny little feelings like this. I miss the rain at home. I miss getting drenched in the downpour. I suddenly missed home horribly when Vidya said she came home fully drenched in the rain. It feels like it’s been ages since I have been home, or seen the rain there. I miss home.

Other than the rain, nothing stay in my memory. Ah well, the medical checkup! That part was fun, where I had to go for the blood test. Every instance of conversation with a Japanese person paves way for a blog in itself. Neither do I understand what I am saying, nor do they get me. But we still keep trying and get things done somehow! It was the same this time, when a lady there wanted me to write down my address on an envelope. I figured she was asking for the address only because she gave me an envelope. God knows what would have happened otherwise! Somehow passing through that, I had my blood sample taken and had a tiny bandage around the tiny prick. I was directed to a table and a chair by the same lady, where she placed an hour glass. The rest was understood, just by exchanging smiles. And I sat there, counting the sand grains dripping down, smiling to myself. I guess such small gestures are what set Japan apart. Blood test wasn’t a new thing for me. But this care was new. And it felt warm, especially when you aren’t home anymore.