Description of my life now: Waw…

There really is no other word for it…

Shishi Mai (Lion Dance) at Ikuji

Shishi Mai (Lion Dance) at Ikuji

Special Needs School, Gakuensai.

Special Needs School, Gakuensai.

Gokayama!

Gokayama!

Kanazawa Noh Museum

Kanazawa Noh Museum

Kamikochi, Nagano

Kamikochi, Nagano

Goodbye 24,620. It was nice knowing you. #UNIQLO

Goodbye 24,620. It was nice knowing you. #UNIQLO

After all those pictures…sometimes, I don’t quite know what or how to sum things up.
One one hand I work a regular 8:30-4:15 job. I teach students and I have my ups and downs.
Classes can be incredibly fun and at the same time, I have those classes that just don’t work out for me, and I learn from my mistakes.

Then, the weekends arrive…and it’s like a whirlwind of activity. Suddenly the world around me changes as a travel. This coming weekend I’ll be in Osaka/Kyoto for a show. It feels like I left Singapore a long long time ago. It seems crazy that I’ve done SO much in a span of 2 months….and yet here I am.

One day I go for photo shoots and nat geo worthy road trips…and the next day, I’m in class teaching. Waw.
Feels like being socked over the head with a ton of rainbow clouds…
Whatever hardships I face…I tend to forget it when see the nature surrounding me.
And of course, when I meet some of my amazing students.

I really try not to play favourites…and I don’t give out easy marks. But it’s hard not to smile (or burst out laughing) when you have some of these students in your class. I’ve got favourite-kun at my special needs school who’s got to be the most eager learner of English I’ve ever met. I’ve got some hilarious high school boys who seem to use English for the sole purpose of flirting (very badly). I’ve got my speech-contest-san who loves calorie mate. I’ve got papers to mark, where I get “application eigo” which looks like something right out of google translate. And I’ve got amazing JTEs and 2 amazing schools. And when I step out of the school, the wide wide sky greets me.

I’m tired. I’m exhausted. And by the time I get home, I want nothing more than a hot hot bath especially now that the temperature has started to drop. But I also feel extremely happy and satisfied. I get a sense of job satisfaction that I’ve not gotten in a long time. And again that makes me think, waw… It’s a job I enjoy.

Apart from exploring, I’ve also been shopping (FOUND UNIQLO!!!!!!!!!!!!) and found some really neat eateries. The change for me is that most things take time to accomplish over here. Just because, everything is extremely compact in Singapore. Here it takes me a good hour to catch a bus to a HUGE mall called Favore which really is in the middle of nowhere. But that’s somehow really slowed down my pace of life. If I miss something, I accept that I’ve missed it and I just wait for the next train or bus or tram to come along, because really, what else can I do?

Sometimes in a busy city like Singapore, you really do forget to stop and stare at the sky and take a deep breath. But with how wide the sky is here, I’m just always breathing better. Much less claustrophobia.

Here’s to more goodness. 😀

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2 month without internet later.

Culture shock

at age 18, some of my kids still like disney.
if i miss a train, i wait for another hour sometimes.
atms have a closing time.
shops close at 8pm.
internet took FOREVER to arrive.
in new zealand, they have Jandels. whut even.

these are just some of the things that really gave me a bit of a shock.
its not my first time here but hey, life’s a learning journey, and i keep learning new things everyday.

its not necessarily a bad thing though. this culture shock thing.

my life has slowed down quite a bit. and im immensely thankful for it.
i cycle a lot too. and every now and then, i zone out to just look at the sky which just amazes me even 2 months after being here.

teaching

at my senior high, kids are really pretty close to what i get back home. most of them don’t volunteer. but they have a lot of energy and its been a real joy to be a teacher here. the JTEs are fantastic and ive had a wonderful time trying out different ideas.

its not always easy…and i do get a class or 2 that can be particularly challenging. but i learn what to do…or not to do. and its been amazingly satisfying. everyday, i go home feeling i did something worthwhile.

on the usage of japanese, ive heard split views on this…but i think esid. i try to use a healthy mix of japanese and english. sometimes i use a bit more japanese with the kids who are particularly scared. sometimes it works..sometimes it doesnt. but i try.

i also get a couple of really cheeky kids, and honestly, they make my day. their terrible attempts at flirting with me, crack me up. its free entertainment and i look forward to seeing them just to get my next dose of humour for the day. not sure if this is a very teacherly thing to do. : \

the kids at my special needs school are amazing. i have few favourites…especially with my elementary and junior high students. sometimes, im with them and i feel like i can forget time and just spend an entire day listening to them. theres so much happiness in them….and despite all the labels a special needs school gets, i feel incredibly blessed to have met some of these kids who get happy just to see me once a week.

i ask myself “what have i done for them to make them this happy?” and i have no answer to it. so i thank whatever it it that brought these kids to me and i give them what ever i have in me.

some weeks ago, i volunteered to make some wheels for the elementary kids who were learning “the wheels on the bus”. i stayed up all night making them and my living room was a mess. but that night (or early morning) i finally slept thinking, yea, this is home now. I finally felt like i owned my apartment. it felt good.

speech contest

i have nothing by respect for my speech contest kid. she works incredibly hard and im…well im me. hahahaha, between me taking the same train as her and calling her out whenever i see her, im surprised she doesn’t run when she sees me. her face DOES change to a look of “Oh dear God it’s her again” whenever she sees me though.

but she’s an incredibly hard worker. i know im repeating myself on this…but she’s everywhere doing everything.

places and explorations

toga village:
amazing amazing amazing full day of theatre that ended with me staying overnight in a tent. #YOLO
met a friend, Daiki-san, waaay back from 2011 and he was performing for a suzuki show!
how do i even start with the SCOT theatre festival???
first i gotta thank tanya for the invaluable help. really if not for her, i wouldn’t have known where to look!
the day started early. sunday morning.
i caught a train to yatsuo, and then a tiny van from there deeeeeep into the mountains where toga village rested.
we were just in time to catch an interview with suzuki tadashi and i managed to ask a question.
not quite sure what i asked….but i recorded it (cuz i knew id be like this)
but asking that question, what an advantage….suddenly, people came up to me to talk about theatre in Japan.
i made a ton of friends just from that, and the trip became a lot less lonely.
i then realised that if i stayed to watch shows all day, id miss the last bus…or rather the only bus back…
so i had to stay.
and if i stayed…it was either an expensive inn for 7000 yen….or a tent for 500….
so surprise surprise…i chose the tent.
then midsummer night’s dream in Korean which was super super super funny and physical
toga food
and then it started to drizzle….
suzuki’s trojan women which was amazingly entrancing to watch….
got some dinner and chatted with some older ladies who gave me a whole lot of food when they found out i was gotta stick it out in the tent….
and THEN it started to just pour…
watched another show…which was amazingly visual, and multilingual and outdoors and physical and just….waw…..while in a raincoat…shivering…
and then finally, got myself to my tent…which turned out to be not too shabby. it was well sheltered and i was pretty warm in there…
made use of the free sento services…except i had no towels or change of clothes…but somehow managed….
and then got good night’s rest.

waw….i still have so much more to talk and write about AND photos:
Gokayama, tateyama (bijodaira, midagahara and murodo explorations), brother visiting, Owara, school’s sports fest and just a lot lot more.

so i’ll take my time with it…will slowly update whenever i can…but it shouldn’t be too bad now that I’ve got INTERNET AT HOME 😉

The Blur of Leaving

So the following entries will be a little verbatim cuz I really couldn’t bring myself to phrase everything nicely…A lot of it was typed as and when a memory popped into my head on my plane ride to Japan.

At that time, my head was in a bit of a mess…so I just decided to type this out to organise all the events in my mind.

Enjoy…

August 2nd 2014
Last Day

Decided not to go for the NDP preview and this proved to be a good choice. I was emotionally exhausted and wanted nothing more than to be at home.

Day started with going to Mariamman Temple with family and Chitta, Chitti and Nandini.

Chachi came back home around 5pm. We spent some time goofing around, and then I called up Sistic to settle some ticket matters for Amma and Patti and went down to Tampines mall to collect the tickets for them.

End of the day, when everyone had gone off, I sat with Amma, Appa, Patti and Chachi…they gave me some good real life advice. Don’t let ppl into the house w/o knowing who they are…keep safe…don’t give away personal information uncessarily…if you (at anytime) feel like you’re in any danger, get out of that place…never hesitate to call home about anything at all… don’t hesitate to ask home for help (amma was very insistent that if I felt like I needed help at any help at all, I should not feel ashamed to ask for help)….eat well…drink milk…if people can’t respect me for who I am, I shouldn’t give them a time of my life (Sankar’s imput)…

Then I went back to the room and managed to send out last minute e-mails to the school where I’d be conducting a summer camp and to a project that I was doing some documentation work for. Sending these e-mails was like a huge weight off my chest. I didn’t have anything to worry about in Singapore anymore.

August 3rd 2014
Departing Singapore for JET Programme

The day started at 4:40am. Woke up…a kind of blank feeling permeated my mind. I am happy, but at the same time there’s so much apprehension. It already feels so much bigger than how I saw it at the start of the application process. So many responsibilities to shoulder and I wonder every now and then if I’ll be able to shoulder them all.

Mum has already given me the option to call her at anytime about anything…but I didn’t decide to go on the Programme only to depend on my parents for everything that doesn’t go my way in life. It’s something I need for myself and it’s a now or never thing. But it’s scary to decide NOT to depend on them.

So back to my morning… I woke up, checked my hand phone (as usual) and went about getting ready. Had thosai with milagaipodi and thayir for breakfast…it felt so normal…but surreal at the same time because it was gonna be a long time till I saw home again. Seeing my life, all packed up finally hit me like a ton of bricks in the gut.

And then we were off.

Chachi and Appa went by cab with one luggage and Amma, Patti and I went by car with another 2 luggage.
We arrived at Changi Airport, Terminal 1, Counter 9 and checked-in with little problem. I’d been packing for the past 1 month, so I’d have been shocked if there was any weight issue. The lady at the counter spoke to me in Japanese before looking up and realising I was Indian, found that kind of hilarious.

Some of the other JETs had also checked in and I went to report my presence to Chayama-san who was overseeing all the travel bookings for us. She told us to report to the departure gate by 7:10am and I was free to be with family till then.

Sankar and I were joking around about being Kaijuus…and then Abhi (with crutches and bandaged foot) and Atthai arrived. Abhi gave me a cd with a letter (which I didn’t look at until I was in the plane) and then we waited around for Nannan and co to arrive. Amma was stressed. Super stressed. And then chitti, weenie and chitta arrived but said Nannan had slept in. Ok…that kinda sucked for a while and we decided to go to the coffee shop, but chitti stopped us and told us to wait for a while…which was odd…until she said Nannan was just in the washroom and on her way. Waw….this family and surprises…really don’t get along huh… HAHAHAHA, still it made me happy to know she’d come to see me off.

We finally made a move to go to the yakun kaya and starbucks and I saw a couple of the other JETs around. Jane had brought her kawaii dog in a bag…seriously….it’s super kawaii… And saw Serena sitting with her family…

And then as I stood in line for my green tea frappe (seriously, not sure why I wanted this of all things) Makishi-san came down…and we thought we were being called for something…turns out, we weren’t… but I spotted Syaf who’d come down to see me off. There’s something really touching about seeing a friend come to see you off at 6:30am in the morning (granted she lives in Tampines) But, hahaha, thanks syaf!!

So I collected the Syaf Makcik and we went back to the yakun party of people 😛 And somehow Syaf fit right in. Sankar made a comment at me asking who wore scarfs in a tropical country…and Syaf was conveniently between the 2 of us wearing a Tudung…so I pointed at her…and finally got chachi to shut up about pretentious scarfs while he backtracked saying it was ok if it was religious thing. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

All too soon, it was time to fly off…so we took all our many many pictures…and all our many many hugs…mum tried to keep me back saying “everyone else is still here!

Plane ride: typed on 5th October (better known as the Day I FINALLY got internet at home)

and then we were all getting ready to board…the plane ride remains a blur…and i remember eating the oddest plane meal ever. it looked like a cross of indian and western and god knows what…but it was pretty ok…

everyone was super super hyped.

and 7 hours later, we were in Tokyo.

Waw. the feeling of being back…was just….pure…waw.
We were ushered down a different path for JET participants, got our employment cards, and basically skipped ahead of the queues.
….
the rest was basically covered in my previous article….but really, WAW it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ll slowly try to attempt an update.