Daily Archives: June 14, 2003

The Japan travelogues – II

Here comes the 2nd post for The Japan travelogues! This is about the kind of ppl in Japan, their attitude and what a typical desi gets to come across.
Living (on the edge) in Japan
My impression about Japanese ppl on the whole is that they are very helpful.. they would go out of their way to help a foreigner.. much more anyway than what an Indian would. When I set out for office the next day, I was to get to a particular platform on the station. The moment I got to the station, the whole place was *swarming* with ppl who all looked alike! I was very overwhelmed and felt lost like a small minnow in a torrent of ‘n’ clones of a “slit – eyed” minnow!! One of my colleagues termed it as the “Matrix effect” later. The reason why most of them looked same was firstly because of their features, and secondly because their body shape was more or less the same, which was quite surprising. No one was fat, plump, obese, skinny, thin! They were all roughly the same height and their slim bodies would give any supermodel a run for his/her money! They were all dressed up in the same attire more or less – business suits in browns & blacks. They all had the same serious expression on their faces. In other words, they all looked like products of some assembly line! If anyone has read “Abduction” by Robin cook, they would remember the feeling where those folks come into another world at the bottom of the ocean where a similar thing happens 🙂
Japan is a VERY clean place, there’s no sign of dust or pollution anywhere! I wonder how they manage it…The system is very well organised. The place is absolutely safe esp in comparison with our metros! Coming back to the ppl, they are courteous and helpful. I had thought I would be stared at or at least given a second glance for not being “slit eyed” but nothing like this happened. In fact ppl would look through me. When i wore a typical indian attire for the first time there, I was pretty apprehensive again about the looks I would get, but I should have known… I felt as if I was practically non-existant for them. Had it been the case of a foreigner in India, I can imagine the “tamasha” that would have been there if anyone wore something out of the ordinary.
Language is a major hassle but it has its own little advantages too ;-). Of course for anything that you need to communicate, you are practically handicapped if you don’t know some basic utility terms in Japanese. Or else you rely on your skills of playing “dumb charades” but I must say the opposing team here, is very bad at guessing :-P. One advantage that language offers is the language that *We* know and they don’t. We can say *anything* that we desire to, right at their faces and get away with it. Of course it’s upto every individual to stay within his/her own moral limits. And of course again, *they* also have the freedom to do the same. But this kinda freedom is *very* addictive. I had to consciously stop myself from blurting out whatever came to my mind or thinking aloud when I got back to India.
There’s a reason why the Japanese ignore anything out of the ordinary. They hate to get embarassed or land up in any situ which would result in “loss of face”. (Ok, this isn’t my own theory!). So as a result they would behave as if everything is perfectly fine and normal. They would look through you if the need be. There are other repercussions to it too. They are generally educated AFA English is concerned, esp the younger generation, but they wouldn’t really speak it coz that mite land them in an embarassing situ. Talking of the younger generation, they are more american than the americans themselves! They try to imitate that culture to the *core*! The teens there would be having spiky hair, in various garish shades, torn clothes, pierced ears, noses or whatever (believe me, it can be wherever, whatever) and a cellphone in their hands would be a necessary appendage. Would be appending more on another important part.. Surviving Japanese food, later..