JaDa – Day 65

I know today is not my last day in the lab. But for some reason, I felt that way. I guess I chose it to be so, so as to not face them and bid bye. I am not deeply connected to them. But nor am I distant from them. I like being around them, and the way they make me feel. It felt like I don’t know how to bid bye to people, whom you know you’d never again meet. That was a new kind of farewell. In school, in college, it never felt like that way. Though I haven’t met most of them after the farewell, atleast I didn’t know that beforehand. But this time, it felt eerily certain. I left a note and some gifts from home – With love from India!

JaDa – Day 64

The end of the report almost felt like the end of the internship. The good comments and encouragement from the professor was very heart warming. I guess kind words matter a lot, especially when you’re away from your comfort zone. It motivates you for the better. It’s a mixed feeling now, about leaving a new place that was almost getting familiar, and about missing the familiar comfort.

I ramble. Its annoying now.

JaDa – Day 63

One whole day of nothing but report making. Sitting unmoved on the chair, forgetting food, a phone call or two with Neha about her marriage, with dad about the political landscape of India, back to ARR playing in the background as I aggressively type in! Submission deadlines do such crazy things to you. We even pulled an all-nighter for the report!

JaDa – Day 62

It feels like I am going home. More strongly through the emails that talk about college, activities and the committee paraphernalia. Not too long until I am amidst all the familiarity again. Home is not too far.

JaDa – Day 61

Of the many things I would miss, Shiru Cafe is one. Free coffee, sure. But more than that, it’s the ambience around it. The tables set outside the cafe, next to the lawn, facing the road and the mountains beyond. Spending long hours over a cup of coffee, with someone to talk to was always a pleasant experience. Today, as Divya and me were doing exactly that, Pooja joined us. She is from India, and a fellow resident at the I-house. In a long conversation about her finding a new apartment, moving in alone, with apprehensions about doing things on her own, she casually mentioned about growing up. Facing life challenges in baby steps – signing a lease agreement in a foreign country, furnishing the home, insuring the place, and finding the right bargain for all of these! But again, it makes me think. Is it easier for me in a foreign country or in India?

JaDa – Day 60

After long discussions and confusions and rescheduling and a lot more, finally we made it to USJ! For the scaredy cat that I am, the transition from Silver Storm and Dream World to Veegaland was a feat in itself (all are amusement parks back home). And now at Universal Studios Japan, I really had no sense of purpose or objective. I went, because Divya went. And I thought it’s the right thing to do, to give her company. Reaching there, standing in the queue for entering the park, there’s a good view of the roller-coaster, Hollywood Dream. The curves and bends of the track made me wonder again, about why did I drag myself there. I was reassured that the place is not for boring people like me. But again, I was excited to see around the place. Just see, no ride, no screaming, nothing.

All that said, I found myself standing in a long queue, winding around Hogwarts. Ride after ride, I went to Harry Potter, Spiderman, and a few others I have not even heard of. By the time I started exploring the fun side of me, I also realised that there’s only so much fun I could have, for all other rides were beyond my threshold of fear! Dropping the jaws, I watched The Flying Dragon fly over my head. The adrenaline rush, the screaming and the frolic were all fun and exciting. But fear is a real emotion. And of all others, I don’t really want to overcome it.

Talking about fears, USJ was not just about being scared but also about overcoming it. Only that, it wasn’t quite mainstream. My fears were relinquished in the children’s area. My first ever amusement park experience ended in a very bad note with just one ride, many years ago. Just as the fancy merry-go-round started moving, I got scared and jumped off the seat and ran out of the ride. The next thing I remember is my dad chiding me, as we exited the park. I have always been scared of giant wheels, erratically moving adventure rides aka roller-coasters and all of its kind. One day at USJ wasn’t enough to conquer the fear. So I started low with merry-go-rounds, Flying Snoopy and the lots. And it felt very accomplishing to be the only one not screaming in fear in the rides. Please ignore the fact that my fellow riders were kids.

It was refreshing to embrace the child in oneself. Especially when I got an extra ride without being in the queue, because my Snoopy didn’t fly the first time! At the end of my second ride, the operator lady asked me if I enjoyed it. I am not sure yet if it was normal sarcasm or Japanese non-judgmental politeness! Whatever may that be, at the end of 9 rides (that’s more than what you usually get in USJ), kids’ and otherwise, I exited the park as a happy kid. I am glad I joined Divya, despite not being part of her adventure league!

JaDa – Day 59

Finally, I realise what a sense of accomplishment is. The year long struggle with the SCDL project was officially wrapped up! I look forward to feel the same way with a lot more things soon, only so that I can sulk and do nothing at all, without regret!

JaDa – Day 58

With less than a month ahead, I find it hard to strike balance in my day-to-day things. I wonder whether to sleep a bit more because there’s nobody to wake me up. (Parents in a different zone come in handy now!) Or should I just use the opportunity and take a peaceful walk in the morning? Work, food, visiting places – everywhere I find this same dilemma. Opening the last packet of Maggi was the toughest choice though!

JaDa – Day 57

It was a normal routine day, except that Divya had plans to make lunch for her lab mates, Tadamori, Takato and Hung. And I was glad to join too. It was nice to see the care with which she was making the chicken. I did my part too, making rice 😛 Thoughtfully, we had also packed pickle, just in case if the curry doesn’t feel spicy enough! It was amazing to see them struggle trying to eat with hand. And more fun to see Divya teach them to hold a morsel with fingers. Never would I have imagined such a sight, as using fingers to eat is the most obvious thing for an Indian. Spoons and forks are what you get trained for, never for hands!

Japan hasn’t given me cultural shocks, really. But there’s been a great lot of cultural ‘Wow!’ moments. The one today is very distinct, among the many such!

JaDa – Day 56

Arashiyama, Sagano Scenic Railway, Bamboo Forest and the Monkey Park were hot things on the list, ever since we came here. Divya showed me the train, and it was a straight yes! But somehow, it wasn’t as amazing as imagined. We hopped into a crowded train to Saga-Arashiyama from Kyoto. The station staff have been extremely helpful at all the places we have been to so far, but not really so here. Figuring out the place, partly with the map and partly with gut feeling, we headed to the Bamboo Forest. And somehow again, it was not quite what we expected. Walking through the forest, we met another Tamil family, on an official visit to Kyoto University. The same that we saw at Nishiki, a couple of days ago. Talking to them, helping them through their itinerary for a rather short trip, and finally clicking a photo for the family, it was a pleasant feeling of connectedness.

Moving past a lot of nice people, asking for a photo of us to be taken, and returning the favour, it was a good walking tour meeting new people. Heading back to the station, we reached theSaga Torokko Station, right next to Saga-Arashiyama. The scenic railway, the Sagano Romantic train, was again a disappointment because we couldn’t get a seat in the open coach. And the seats we got did not even have openable windows!

The view was awesome – the cliffs, the bridges, the flowing Hozugawa (riverHozu), and the boats. We wished to take the boat trip back to Saga-Arashiyama, but it felt too costly at 4 grands! Alighting at Kameoka Torokko Station, we were lost. The day so far did not feel awesome enough. We were not motivated enough to cover the Monkey Park or the Kimono Forest, though they were also the reasons we came all the way for. We decided to go back to Kyoto, from the nearest JR Umahori Station.

Somewhere on the way from the Torokko station to the JR, we found a cafe with an amazing view. Suddenly, it felt like the purpose of this entire trip. Munching on the nachos, and sipping on the amazing grape juice, with an inspiring view in front of us, we spent hours there. Multiple rounds of juice, nachos and an ice cream, and some great snaps – the day felt so perfect to me! Each of us zoning out into our own worlds, we let time slip by without the hurry of a schedule.

Back at Kyoto from Umahori, we went to Teramachi for the usual souvenir shopping dilemma. And in no time, headed back home. A peaceful strip of the day, caught in between many boring and tiring hours, made the day complete.