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The Last Straw Posts

JaDa – Day 4

It rained yesterday. And we were warned not to use the ‘commuter route’. I was wondering what would happen if it continued to rain the whole night. It was disturbing. But again, that did not happen. Only that, today I had the added weight of the umbrella in my bag. I am getting better with the stairs now. I used stop and pant after 2 fleets. But today, I went up till three fleets before I paused! We were delayed by a small conversation with the warden – worth every moment! It was a surprise to learn that the old man had served in IT industry for a considerably long time, and owned a home in Pune, India. People are intriguing; more so here than anywhere else!

Divya has become desperate to get me to eat something here. But the more she tries, the more food I see, the more I feel like not eating any of them. Maybe my subconscious is grabbing on the opportunity to lose some weight! Today was pretty drab. More so because there were less people, and more places. We discovered new pathways and buildings in the campus, but why aren’t there enough people here! I wonder, maybe one should reorganise the population in the world, and bring people from the populated parts of the world to the less populated areas! A day without enough people in it is not a day at all.

JaDa – Day 3

The whole deal about jet lag and time zone difference was overrated until this morning. Waking up at 11 in the morning, I panicked that Divya left without me, only to find her sleeping too! We both struggled to match the time zone and our sleeping pattern. Saikat somehow seems unaffected by the whole deal, as usual. After a quick breakfast, we rushed to the university. Going so late into the lab was a bit weird, but thankfully everyone was occupied with some discussion. Wait a minute! Was I also supposed to be a part of that? I hoped not and swiped my card to sneak in. Going about by my plan, I had a private discussion with my guide. New challenge, every day! He suggested I make a presentation, and I was unsure how would the communication barrier be dealt with. But, I had more ‘important things’ to worry about the presentation, so I let it pass. In a while when Divya pinged, it was time for my rescheduled medical checkup. We both went around for a walk before my appointment. That’s when ‘Takoyaki’ happened! To be honest, the first food that was an appetiser to me in Japan is Takoyaki. Deep fried, perfectly crafted, garnished with spring onions and mayo – the mouth watering ball of joy – except the octopus inside! Oh yeah, apparently the lady has been going crazy about it ever since the beginning of the Japan plan. Trust me, I could feel my stomach grumbling for food just by looking at the well-cooked Takoyaki balls. We made a video of she gobbling them, and that felt like the beginning of a great trip ahead!

Medical checkup was a fun episode too. I wouldn’t forget the way the lady who checked my blood pressure told me to ‘relaaaaax’, with her animated expressions! Nor the lady who struggled to decipher my ‘complicated’ medical history. I would never grow tired of saying this – people here are unbelievably well-mannered! You feel guilty of being at the receiving end of their humility. Though I learnt ‘Arigato’ to be the Japanese word for ‘Thank you’, it never comes out of me. Because, when I thank them, I always do it from the deepest of my heart. I don’t even get to think enough to translate it to their language.

The rest of the evening went by as yesterday, as we explored the campus. Out of nowhere, I had this new desire for ice cream. Probably, I was hungry ever since the Takoyaki episode. Photos, more photos and even more photos, and we reached back for a heartwarming dinner. My first proper meal here – Puliyodharai!


JaDa – Day 2

The second day, the 10th of April, is when we finally went to the University. And when I say ‘went’, it’s not as simple as it sounds. The BKC i-house and the University campus are on two sides of a hillock. A fleet of 100+ stairs have been built as ‘commuter route’ for students. Yeah, a 100 steps up and a 100 steps down daily! I guess that’s where I am gonna lose my weight and not in the lack of veg food! All that said, I have this distinct feeling that it’s these stairs that I am gonna miss the most when I leave this place. Gasping for breath as I climb, and feeling liberated as I descend, I feel alive every moment here!

I wish I could talk more about the campus and the experiences in the lab, but somehow that seems inappropriate. It involves a lot of people, and a lot more of my perceptions about everything I deal with. But what I cannot miss mentioning is Shoko – our coordinator here. Although we had a lot of mail communications, I never expected to meet her as a sweet woman here. She’s been helpful the entire day, running around with us, taking us to places and showing us around the campus. After a brief time with our professors, we all gathered around her again for the routine medical examination. Owing to ‘logistic issues’, my medical check-up was rescheduled for the next day. Thanks to that, I got more time with Shoko, and she took me to more places in the campus! The day finally came to an end, we bid bye to Shoko and headed back to the i-house. It was a quick short day, but promising and eventful!

The excitement had finally started building up and there was no stopping us. Divya and me explored the campus and met people, as Saikat went by his schedule. Clicking photos, posing for it, and laughing over it, somewhere in between, I see a whole new level of bonding building up with this girl. Great times ahead with the duo!

JaDa – Day 1

The flight came to an end, but that was only half the trip! What awaited us was a mad rush to catch two trains and be not too late to get a cab to our destination. The Quarantine, Immigration and Customs clearance were done quicker than what we expected. That gave us ample time to get the next Haruka Express to Kyoto, at around 10.15 pm on the 8th of April. Talking about trains in Japan, it’s a sight worth watching how sleek things are. The seats that rotate to suit the direction of travel, the designated luggage space, the movable rods that stick to the wall – there’s lot about Japan that may be impossible to remember and jot down. After an hour and a little more, we reached Kyoto and rushed to the Biwako line for our next coach to Minami Kusatsu. Before we knew it, in roughly about fifteen-twenty minutes, we were at Kusatsu. We were skeptical of getting a taxi at that hour of the day; it was already past 12.30 am, next day. As luck had it, three taxis came out of nowhere, as if they were waiting for us. The taxi driver – an old man – single handedly stacked up our luggages into the car and opened the door for us! It was dark and silent, but somehow the place was comforting. The nice old man safely got us to the BKC International House, despite our minimal communication. It was nice to receive a ‘taxi bill’!

We were nearing the end of our adventure. Despite our unannounced arrival, the warden-in-charge, a polite middle-aged man, welcomed us to the dormitory. We woke him up in the middle of the night, but not for once did he frown. To know what humility means, one must definitely visit Japan! He took us to our rooms and left us on our own for a peaceful sleep. Next morning was dull and sleepy. We slept most of the day, except for a quick reporting at the reception for some paperwork. After the first meal at Japan, a bowl of maggie, we slid back into sleep.

That’s around when the whole exhaustion and unfamiliarity settled in. To push things forward, Divya and Saikat suggested we go out. Reluctantly, I went along and that isn’t a walk I regret. We walked to a nearby store, the Friends Mart(?). While Divya and Saikat got some ready-to-eat dinner, I got some vegetables and bread. The shop reassured faith of survival for the vegetarian in me! On the way back, we met Chalwe aka Charlie, from Zambia. He took us back to the i-house through a shorter route. Given the chilling winter outside, I am thankful to that! The evening went by, as we settled in for a cosy sleep. The following day was long one. Meeting the professors, planning the research, new atmosphere – anxious day ahead! It’s cold outside, and I am shivering. Japan is good, but wasn’t home more happy?

Japan Days – Day 0!

Ever since the whole Japan thing has come around, I had planned on beginning with this travel blog where I would jot down the minuscule details of my trip, as a memoir! But as life has it, things don’t always pan out as we plan. I was stuck without Internet, was exhausted and drained, and even felt too depressed to do anything in the past 2 days. So my amazing plan went down the drain! But here I am, trying to compensate for my loss and resurrect my travelogue! My day 0 went something like this!

Starting off early in the morning from home, I had a flight to catch to Mumbai. It was difficult saying the goodbyes to family, but let’s not get into that. On boarding the flight, I was looking forward for a quick nap until I met this lady next seat. Some people are just so, who come in with swish and make you feel good. A quick conversation with her made me feel excited about the trip. Mumbai was an icing on top! Having heard much about the Mumbai local trains, it was always on my bucket list. The pace of the city never stops to amaze me, nor does train journeys. After a quick meal, I headed back to the airport with suitcases full of excitement! Divya was already waiting there, and Saikat joined us soon. Along with the three other students from the University, the six of us headed towards immigration. My first international trip was just a couple of hours away! The 7th of April was almost ending. I wouldn’t have quite realised it had the gentleman at the counter not wished me, “Happy birthday, five minutes in advance!”. Small things make huge impacts.

My Day 0 doesn’t end there. It extends to the 8th of April, for that’s when the journey really began! Getting into the flight, I drifted into a settling sleep. I was woken up multiple times, but only to be greeted with a glass of juice or a meal. My last Indian meal for the next 3 months had Upma and Sambhar Vada; can’t complain! Alighting at Beijing for a lay-over was very exciting. It’s two countries in a go! But then, having no WhatsApp, no Google, no Facebook and no mode of communication to the rest of the world (obviously, since we didn’t care enough to get an international SIM) was frustrating! It was a moment of realisation that survival is near impossible, off-the-grid! It was more of the anguish of being unable to contact family, than anything else. Time ticked away, and the next flight took off. More meals to come, but this time to my dismay, things got stranger! I wasn’t sure if I wanted to even touch my food. Perils of a vegetarian! But again, it was my day; how could things go bad! Air China came in with a sweet surprise and made my day, all over again!

Japan, here we come! (Rest of the trip, on the next blog. Keep reading!)

P.S. A trip to Mumbai cannot be a part of another. The ordeal of getting my luggage from the railway station calls for a blog in itself. Durai and his timely help and a lot more; some other time, some other day!

12 lines on despair

Minutes, hours, days, eternity.
The heart that bleeds,
And the thoughts that whirl,
Take so long to heal,
And resurrect to life.
And yet again, here I am,
Despair in vain, I brood.
For not having done it already.
Succumbing to pressure,
I yield. I give up. I give in.
For I don’t realize,
That ever so often, it takes
An eternity and more, for
The heart that bleeds,
And the thoughts that whirl,
To heal and make peace.

P.S. Lesson learnt. Never let someone dare to write on your blog! It fails so miserable. Like this.

The lone tear! 

As I pat myself to sleep,

As time seeps through the night,

The shadows remain unwavered. 

Unaware of time, unaware of space. 

The shadows of the past, the moments 

The ones of the bliss, the ones of remorse.

As I pat myself into sleep,

She asks, “Why do you shake your feet?”,

And she says, “Patting yourself to sleep?!”. 

As I pat myself to sleep, 

Through the sleeplessness of the night,

Through the restlessness of the mind,

Through the shadows of the past,

The bliss, the remorse, the sleep,

The lone tear slips away to the night,

As my feet tremble, so does the soul! 


The much delayed post. Has been a month since life has taken a significant turn. In the impact of the ‘significance’, or for some lame reason, I have not written in a while. A long while. I used to think that I would never again be able to write. Often, I saw my blog dying and me staying by, powerless. And it hurt. I wanted to write. I always have wanted to. I still want to. This is the one thing I feel good about. The one thing that makes me feel that I could do much better. The one thing that I would never regret. But as life takes me forward, and time shrinks, it scares me that I no longer am going to be the same. The carefree passionate liberal soul. I might never again make it that way. For I am in pursuit of new ways!

Great ideas and noble thoughts are unwritten! 

******** to life!

For the past twelve months of life, I have been struggling with the hassle of passwords. I have a user account that demands a monthly change of password, something that hasn’t been used in the past ‘x’ months. Security policy! I acknowledge the goodwill but that does not make me any less frustrated of remembering a mindless combination of alphanumeric, case specific and some special characters! Around that time, roughly an year ago, I came across an article that was a relief to all this distress!

Being in the same lines of password dilemma, the writer described how he came out of his chain smoking, and made up to his broken marriage, all with some random alphanumeric! And special characters. He started off with his password set as ‘QuitSmoking’ or something similar. And boom! He quit it..Exaggeration.. Level – Expert. That’s exactly what I thought. Then he went on saying, how he brought back the romance in life, controlled the temper, and finally made peace with the passwords! Of course I smirked and scoffed. And let it go. But the day came again, prompting for a new password. Scratching my head to find a pattern, I stumbled upon this write up once again. Giving it a shot, I chose an immediate life goal as my next password. Adding some pattern to the digits and the special characters did the trick. Twelve month down, and I still remember my password set last January. Not just easy to remember, these passwords did make an impact on my life. 

Through the past year, I smiled bigger, talked less, and said ‘not later’ to kill my procrastination. I told myself to keep calm for a month, and when it didn’t work, I said to myself again,  to keep calmer. I tuned my mind for a competitive exam, and reminded myself to not lose focus. All through these passwords. That’s one thing that I’m taking with me into 2017. ******** to life! 

A day to remember

People. Wonderful beings. Lately, I haven’t been able to write about anything at all. Not a time constraint. Mostly, a people constraint. It has been a really long time since I had new people in my life. People whom you’d recognize as makers of memories for a lifetime. For some while now, I have been interacting with the same set of people. Family. Friends. Colleagues. And the circle repeats. In other words, I feel stagnant. Life feels stagnant. Like, nothing is ever going to change from what it is now, or what it was a few months ago. A few months, I can see my life being right there. Stagnant.
Don’t confuse me to be depressed. I am happy in life. I am happy with my life. That’s right about my problem. Most people’s, factually. Complacency. The lack of reason to go beyond the comfort zone. Mind you, lack of reason, not lack of courage. If this is my happy zone, why would I even move a finger to change this, let alone break out of my comfort zone! That’s a great question to be thrown at every motivational evangelist!
Hoping to get an answer to the question, that soothes my soul, I am living on. And there comes the thought of revisiting the people of my life, who have been there, always through the complacency, the disappointment and the mere existence. In shorter words, I thought of visiting some family, who’d be glad to welcome me. Who else, but the grand parents! I always wonder, why are grandparents so attached to the grandkids? And vice versa. Why is it that, the middle layer is often ignored? Parents are not significant by design, to the whole structure of this bond!
The whole idea was to just pay a quick visit, and spoil their lunch with my kitchen experiments. Simple agenda – roughly am hour’s business. But when has punctuality ever worked there! I stayed a comfy three hours, and rejoiced my time there, till it was time for their routine afternoon nap. Surprises come in the form of ‘semiya payasam’ and ‘paanakam’, while I thought thatha would be too old to be around in the kitchen! Not to forget, the impeccable memory of patti, listing down the songs she had asked for last time. She was planning to ‘remind’ me, lest I forget to take the disk with me! And I thought they were 80 and old and weak!
The honest criticism on the cooking was the cherry on the cake! I was taken aback by their bluntness! Come on, grandparents are expected to say ‘Wow!’ whatever you cook/dance/sing/draw/say or even think! You are the apple of their eyes, but criticized. How fair, duh! Adding to the endless surprises was this one huge article in the newspaper that was related to the company I work for. That stumped me. I know he knows where I work. But I quite didn’t expect him to relate it to me everytime he saw my company’s name.
Topping it all, the one sentence she called out to him, ‘Aval kuzhanthayakkum. Neengale pannungo ..’
Being complacent with life.