Thursday, March 31, 2011

The life of a flyjin in Tokyo

Flyjin, yes the latest, newest word to hit the Japanese vocabulary. Flyjin, yes ladies and gentlemen, essentially refers to foreigners called gaijins here who fled when disaster struck Japan on Mar 11. I am of course a flyjin and more than happy to be termed one! There is no shame or guilt in running from something when you are truly panicking for what is your life. I don't know if that is an inherent cultural trait or something that most people would do, immaterial of which culture they belong to.

People are not asking the tough questions like what would Japanese people have done if they were stuck in India and disaster struck. Would they have hung around and calmly gone on with their lives (as most Mumbaikars do post floods that ravage the city every year) or caught the first flight back to their home? I don't see why there should be scorn or disgust or anger at the way flyjins have behaved or continue to behave for that matter. Do note that I haven't faced any of these reactions from any of the Japanese people I know atleast.

I dislike the imposition of one's cultural values on the other, it does not reflect very well on the mind set of a people. I would believe that its a matter of personal choice and one should be allowed to exercise it.

On the Saturday after the earthquake struck, we went looking for torches and flashlights - all sold out! I step out of the house and there is a shortage of mineral water everyday. I mean, come on, if people are not panic buying, what the heck else is happening. Luckily, we haven't been affected by any of the power cuts happening so god bless on that. Toilet paper, milk, cereal, bread have been running out in certain parts of Tokyo. I know of someone who stays not 20 minutes away from us and didn't get Meiji milk for almost 4 days continuously.

I use mineral water for drinking and cooking. I am not sure how long I should be doing this and maybe I am paranoid despite what the govt says. I think I am entitled to that, coming from such a long and rich tradition of not really trusting your own govt :)

I would like to believe that life is normal. But with a nuclear reactor crippled and gasping for its last breath, some x hundred kms from us, I am not even sure what normal means anymore.

So we won

And I sat up til 2.18 am JST in the morning like a good Indian fan to watch a match which was unbelievable, emotional and so dramatic, it was supah fun!

I am most happy for Tendulkar of course who will be playing in a final again. I am hoping we lift the Cup for him. Its about time no? 1983, the year I was 2 years old now of course seems like ages ago! That eternal picture of Kapil Dev spraying champagne sigh...

Well touch wood on this. And while I might like to say, may the best team win, I am more likely to say, may India win :D

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Return to home and hearth

So we ran away (and yes we did) post the earthquake. I could not handle the fear and uncertainty all the time, not knowing what was going to happen. I am back in my home now, still a bit petrified but far more stronger than when we left. All I could think of was then, that my damn house needs to stop shaking!

Its been almost a day since we returned and touch wood that hasn't happened (yet!). Supplies have been ok too, inspite of the scary stories in the press about shortage of milk, water and the like. CNN btw is useless. You want proper news, you go here.

It was lovely to be back home though, eat home cooked food made by my mother, spar with my sister and catch up with friends. We even managed to do a short holiday which gave us space and time to figure out our next steps.

Big lesson learnt: Don't plan too much and do as much as possible- life is too short! Cliched but true!