Bullet Train, Hiroshima and Paper Walls as partition between Rooms
As the flight took off I shut my eyes, smiled to myself and the images of bullet trains, the visit of Hiroshima museum and the compact tiny houses with paper partition walls crossed my mind.
I smiled and recalled the discussion with my host student's grandfather on their home on their dining table before they drop me after a 10-day student exchange visit to Japan. I recalled how I was puzzled when the host family patriarch asked me “Athidhi” Can you give me 3 words which capture the essence of your trip to Japan. I was taken aback as an immediate reaction as to how 10 days of time spent with the host family and the visits of various parts of the country could sum up by anybody in 3 words. I protested but he insisted and asked to shut my eyes and think of 3 most significant things of Japan. I focused and WOW I could see the bullet trains running across and I cringed at the thought of seeing those pictures of the aftermath of Hiroshima Disaster and 3rd I remembered the compact houses of my host with paper walls as a partition between rooms.
And the more I thought the more I thought of It. These are the 3 things which had a lasting impression on my Japanese experience.
Bullet Trains are faster
“Shinkansen” as it is called in Japanese was the true symbol of Japanese high technology excellence. You could fractionally time your watch with a precision of its arrival and departure time which told me a lot about the Japanese ethos for precision and excellence. It will remain as a constant reminder in my mind that if trains traveling across hundreds of miles can reach with hundred percent precision at their destination if I plan well, I can always be on time for every appointment and meeting deadlines. It also reminds me that if I I would have to achieve some landmark achievement and be recognized in the world, I would have to work in the way bullet trains have created which brought unenviable technology leadership position for Japan.
Paper wall room
Compact houses with paper walls as partition
The first thing struck me as I entered my host's house was that the Japanese keep their shoes outside the door which speaks they consider their house sacred and avoid bringing outside dirt with them inside. Their cleanliness and orderliness were also visible by the way they kept their shoes stacked in rows at a small stand outside. As I entered the house I was shown to my room which I shared with the host student. I was amazed to see the walls in between our room and the host's room is made up of paper and now when I look back I think it speaks a lot about Japanese culture and behavior of Japanese. The people I met were very soft spoken and polite. These people always made sure that they lead a life that never disturb others around them. I had a tough time in the first couple of days as we are used to speaking in our normal tone which was very high. Slowly I had started speak very softly and felt very calm and comfortable with that and I vowed to make this soft speaking behavior a prominent way of life.
The more I think of Hiroshima the more I shuddered as to how anyone could have so insensitive to drop an atom bomb on this peaceful town to kill and damage not only living generation but also make a hell of many generations to come. I was really moved to see the pictures of the Hiroshima museum. Pictures were taken after the bomb was dropped. I could not help control my tears when I saw the pain and suffering these people had gone through. I was amazed to find that many Japanese families till today is in need and had to spend time and money to take care of people with deformities after the nuclear attack. It was heart-wrenching to see people maimed for life but heartwarming to see the courage and determination of the odd community who is supporting all the fumes with compassion.
I strongly believe that this visit to the museum based at Hiroshima is emboldened me to do my bit to ensure not to repeat such stake as well as it is motivated me to work beyond the call of duty to all needs. I remember my grandmother always helping the needy but never understand why. But when I saw ordinary people doing their bit to help better other peoples life in Hiroshima, I awaken myself and inspired to do the same back in India in my own way. On return, I spoke to my mom to look for an opportunity to do my bit for the handicapped people and I was introduced to a National Association for the Blind school by my aunt who supports that organization as a member of Rotary Club.
I was at first applaud and inspired to see how youngsters of my age were working against all odds to gain some education as my own without sight by listening to audio books. But their teacher lamented that they do not have enough audiobooks available for all the subjects. I volunteered and since the last two years, I have been working 3 to 4 hours a week to help blind students in their studies as well as recording audio books for classes 11 and 12. I have been able to motivate a couple of my friends to join me in this endeavor and it's been a really satisfying experience. While working at national association of blind I was struck by the fact that these schools had very few girl students. On inquiry from the school, I learned that uneducated parents are not sending their girl child because of their orthodox views. I talk to the parents of some male students who have sisters who do not attend school. We started visiting the homes of these poor and unprivileged. We shared with the parents of girl children that how we as girl children ourselves are better off with our education and we were able to finally encourage many girls to start going to school.
I learned about an NGO called Khushi in Delhi which is dedicated to supporting the education of girl child. With the help of members of Khushi and my friends, we have been able to enroll over 80 girls into government schools in different parts of Delhi.
Our group regularly meet these girls and their parents to help in their studies and the biggest gratification is the twinkles we see in this girls eyes when they come and meet me and hug me. I feel that this trip to Japan and Hiroshima moved me to take a massive change in my approach to life to become more giving and to make a difference in the lives of unprivileged and there is nothing more satisfying than that. I am glad to see that many of these girls who had been leading a treacherous life in the slums are taking small steps to become self-reliant in their life. This has been one of the most significant and satisfying occasions of my life so far.
© 2010 Binoy
Pavlo Badovskyi from Kyiv, Ukraine on September 28, 2012:
Believe it or not, but it is my dream to visit Japan... It is not just another culture, it is an other world from the Europeans point of view. You are lucky to see it. Voted and shared. :)
Binoy (author) from Delhi on April 27, 2011:
Thanks for your visit and comment wendy87
wendy87 on March 03, 2011: