The long way to......

essays about my daily life. It will be something about India since it makes me happy and bothers me a lot.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


If writing can be a consolation to one’s pain, I think I should write this to console me even if this piece of article is a total self-complacency.

My friend’s casual comment about non-English speaking students learning in English somehow bothered me or hurt me knowing there was no such a vicious intent. It was about we, non-English speaking or native, are much in better position in learning in English compared with Indians learning in Chinese or French. I was rather sad to hear this than getting furious. There is no difference between non-English speakers learning in English and English speakers learn in other languages in terms of both are new and foreign.

I have been bothered by this insensitivity towards us learning in English in India ever since I came here. It was much better in the US, I guess. People may laugh at my funny English but have never looked down on me in that senes. And there was an understanding that I do not speak English because I am from Japan and am trying to master it.

The reason might be related to the fact that an education in English is prestigious in India rather than an education in mother tongue. That might be the whole reason of this insensitivity or making fun of it.

As for my own encounter with English, it was when I was twelve at a junior high school when I first learned alphabets. I still remember the first dialogue in my English textbook. It was “Hello, My name is Yumi Araki”, “Hi, My name is Mike Davis,” “Nice to meet you” and “Nice to meet you, too”. The next chapter was about Yumi, a Japanese girl, introduced her friend Ken to Mike. There were English classed twice or three times a week. But that’s it. In Japan, the education in conducted in Japanese even in the higher education like universities. Therefore, I had my education in Japanese throughout my life except one year in UC and two years in JNU.

It is true that Japanese are less competitive in the field of academics or whatever due to lack of ability of English. In addition, I should not use the fact that I did not have an education in English as an excuse for my bad English or for not being able to use the article properly . But at the same time, we rather I, should not forget about efforts of Japanese who tried to make Japanese language develop to the level that we can have higher education in mother tongue. Before and after the Meji Restoration, new western ideas which never had existed were flooded into Japan. Japanese thought hard to make up new Japanese words which can convey the meaning of those new ideas. For example, the four Chinese characters which mean the Communism and Democracy were invented at that time. Now, Chinese people use that word in China where those characters are originally from.

I guess what I can do is to be proud of my ability of Japanese and at the same time to keep brushing up my English . In this sense, Ha Jin is a role model for me. He teaches me that it is not too late to do that and I can make it someday. In addition, I need to remember those exciting feeling of learning new language, which I felt before.

Or whole this obsession comes from my own weakness. Because my wrong side is winning. If I were much stronger, I would not be bothered by what other people think.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I got fever after the food festival. I am tired....

Is there anyone who realized that we did not have national flag in our stall? Other countries displayed their national flag but we did not.

The reason is simple. The national flag and national anthem of Japan are controversial in East Asia and Southeast Asia (in Japan, too) due to Japanese imperialism in the past. The flag was and still is a symbol of Japanese nationalism and imperialism for lots of people. Imagine that Germany is still using the Nazis flag as a national flag. We did not use the flag to avoid evoking anti-Japanese feeling from other international students. (Koreans and Chinese, mainly...)

I consider myself as one of anti-nationalists (in theory). My family never had the national flag. Never sang national anthem. I still remeber my parents were sitting and protesting against forcing students to sing national anthem at my graduation ceremony of elementary school. I did protest by sitting at high school. And 90% of students protested to sing national anthem at graduation ceremony.

It may sound like strange to most of people. But those who oppose the national flag and the anthem are not opposing to have a national flag or song. We are opposing to use the flag and song which were used as a symbol of Japanese imperialism.

I sometimes feel jealous of those who are proud of where they are from. But at the same time, I like being myself not nationalistic. People may think that we lack of sense of national identity. Yeah....true. However, the situation of lacking national identity or doubting national identity actually made me easily to be familiar with and accept ideas of post-modernism.

The thing is....I guess most of Korean and Chinese students did not realized the absence of the Rising sun-flag.....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hindi film and me: Reconciliation?

I thought I should write about reasons why I get to enjoy Hindi films now. But then… I feel like it is kind a boring and wondering I should write or not. It is simply because I have gotten to know about India bit and I am get used to the patterns of Hindi films. The major reason I watch comes from the belief that I can get an idea of Indian society because films reflect what people want to see. Of course, it is to learn Hindi.

Well…, I just gonna write a few comments about Hindi films.

Girls are icky. They are overreacting and pretending to be too nice…no, the word innocence is better. Come on, take off your mask and be yourself! That is what I always feel. Also, they scream too much.

Some of films lack originality. They just imitate Hollywood style and story.

But I should admit that I am enjoying watching them.

Someone told me that a guy who enjoyed seeing Hindi film so much during his study in JNU stopped watching them once he got back to Japan. Hope, it won’t happen to me…

Friday, March 10, 2006

the crazed: Ha Jin

Another Ha Jin's worth reading book! (Doesn’t it sound like one of those reviews from American newspaper?)

The setting is around the time of students' protests at the Tianmen Square when the Chinese students demonstrated against corrupted Chinese Communist party officials demanding democracy. The story begins with when the protagonist's(Jian Wan) father-in-law is hospitalized because of stroke.

This novel follows the tracks of change of Jian’s inner way of thinking about his life; career, relationship, politics, own country etc in the course of nursing with the father-in-law who is also Jian’s professor. In other words, it is a story about how Jian finds himself.

The underlying theme of the story seems to be similar with “In the Pond” as ordenary people’s reaction against the system (the system of the Communist Party). It deals not only with political aspects but also follows a lots of human feelings, which excites readers. The way he writes and the setting are fascinating!

He develped his writing skill much better than “In the Pond”. ( It is obvious by seeing how many times I consulted dictionary in this book) So you could see his development as English writer. But I guess the real test ground for Ha Jin as a writer has just began. People enjoyed his novels because the stories of ordinary Chinese people were new to foreign readers. Grasping readers wants more than Chineseness once they get used to it.

Still, I like his novel since it gives me a courage to keep studying English since non-native English speaker can write such an awsome novel!


Anybody who has spent some time in the city of Angle will see this film as something relate with them. It is not about somebody’s matter but could be anybody's daily lives in LA.

This film deals with a racial situation in LA. It shows racial segregation and lack of understanding toward others with funny and ironical story. LA is the city where white people are not majority population although the images of white culture as Hollywood, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills are so strong (especially for foreigners). Each race lives separately and usually does not mix up with each other.

The first part of the film, each character, black, white, Mexican, Asian (It usually means East Asian in American context.) and Iranian expresses their own view about other races and themselves in their own languages. Their life is far away from each other even if they live in next block. Occasionally, their life meets on the street, usually with unpleasant.

People in LA do not mention inappropriate things about race because they know that they should leave them unsaid. But the reality is that the discriminately ideas lie deeply in their minds and spill out when they get feel feared, mad or emotional distracted. The film well depicts it.

However, the film was not so dismaying to me though it brought helpless feeling. What director shows was that everyone is same in terms of relationship with others like family or friendship. White “racist prick” police officer, black police officer, Iranian family…they care their family and suffer from. Is it called humanity? Sounds like I am naïve, but that was the impression I have got.

Everyone thinks that discrimination based on race is not morally appropriate. But the reality is thatI cannot deny I assume some roles assinged to particular race. I cannot deny that I feel safe in white or Asian neighborhoods. I wear a mask that I am harmless Asian in LA and I know I will be fine as long as I am wearing it.

I cannot make any comment about the Oscar and this film since I have not watched other films.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hindi film and me : Discord

The year 2004 was a year for me to start engaging India. A real encounter with Hindi film started this year.

The first Hindi film was Dil Se. My Hindi teacher showed it, I guess, seeing my reluctance with learning Hindi.

Although I had some interest in the film, there were many things which I disliked.

One: Sharukh Khan was stalker. Everyone! He sneaked to watch Manisya is taking bath!!!!!

Two: How can people dance on the moving train? They will fall!

Etc, etc….

Teachers showed me lots of Hindi films. For example, Sholay, Mr,420, Mr and Mrs, Ayar, Jaagte raho, Satajit Ray’s film(It is Bengali, though), Bawandar….. I liked some of artistic films but I did not like commercial film at all!

The worst one for me was Dil de chuke sanam because of Salman and Ajay. I got scared to go to live in India by watching this film.

In the year 2004, my relationship with Hindi films was hostile. The reason was because I did not try to understand cultural context of films. I did hate everything about India including film. The more importantly, I was not attracted to any of actors.

It took for me one and half year to get enjoy Hindi films. I watched Lakhsya and HumTum right after I came here, but still I could not enjoy them. I thought the Lakhsya was too nationalist, macho, brotherhood film and could not understand why Rani was dancing with half-sleeve in winter in Netherlands.

What happened to me to get enjoy Hindi films?

To be continued…..I hope


I went to the Northeast cultural festival with my freind yeasterday. It has held in Pragati maidan for a week.

Before going, I checked an ad of the festival. The interesting thing is that the ad are different from English newspaper and Hindi one. The ad in English paper is consisted of pictures of "tribal" people. Then the ad in Hindi paper is of picture of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. I do not know where the difference comes from. If someone knows, please let me know.

Anyway, the excitment of the festival was so high between my freind and me. We both skipped a meal so that we could eat foods from Northeast.

Disappointment struck us right after we entered. There were few people..... The entire place was like sleeping. But we tried to make ourselves optimistic at that moment.

Another disappontment hit us when we saw the food sold there was Rajma and rice...the name of the stall was the Ashoka.....

But we still tried to keep our mind high expecting something might happen. Because it is a festival!

But nothing happened.

The camera was used to take only one picutres from the festival but it was used to take pictures of Bihar's imaginary flyover.....Is that means that seven sisters plus Sikkim are not attractive/interesting than Bihar? Well....I honestly say...8 states could not attract me more than the flyover at that day in Pragati maidan......

Hope the festival would be much better next year. I recommend them to have food stall which definetly attracts lots of people! Who wants to eat Daal in Pragati maidan?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hindi film and me: encounter

I guess the time has come to look back a relationship between Hindi films and me. (too early?)

An encounter with Hindi film was...I still cannot forget that event...when I was a freshman of my university . It was the first semester and I took one class called "language and culture of the 20th century". It was an introductory class and guest lectures who were expert of particuler countries had lectures everyweek and we were required to submit a report. There were lectures as German poet Kirke, the American English etc etc....None of my classmates took this class since it was recommended to take a computer class instead. One day, I went to class as usual alone. The lecture was about India that week.....

The professor was expert of South India, espically about Hinduism. But he came to class excited and showed Indian film to us.

It was shock to me!

It took time for me to understand this is a film! Very submissive, quiet but pretty girl felt in love with middle aged chubby guy, whom does not looks like hero for me. And she was rescued by him from gangsters. Suddenly, they started singing a song in a place with lots of flowers and stuff. In fighting scene, this chubby guy was jumping and sometimes was riding a caw, which I thought no human beings can such a move.

I thought that the film was not sophisticated. Too simple and pictures were not beautiful compared with my favorite French or Chinese films. But one thing was sure that everyone laughed and enjoyed it including me.

Later, I came to know that this chubby is famous actor called Rajinikant from South India.

It can be called encounter with strange or unknown for me. Of course, I did not expect that I would end up watching Hindi films and enjoying them in my life at that time. Life is full of surprise!

But...there was still long way for me to get enjoy Hindi films since then. I did not watch any of them for 5 years after that till Dil se which I saw in my Hindi class.....

If I feel be continued.......

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Image of India

My freind told me that there is an article in Japanese magazine (which is more like gossip not like authentic political one) about a rape incident in Embassy of India in Tokyo.

The story is as follow.
A Japanese college girl went to apply for Visa and asked to wait a room inside Embassy. Then, a guy who looks like middle of thirty and who is called Yadav came. They started chatting. Suddenly, this Mr. Yadav took off his pants and asked to her to sleep with him. He forced her to put his "thing" in her mouth and ejacurated there. (sorry, if it is not appropriate in blog....) The girl went home with crying. Mr. Yadav kept sent her sms like I love you after the incident.

The credibility of the incident is not clear due to diplomatic immunity.

Well, it is a scary story but I kinda felt like laughing. Mr. Yadav....... Is he Bihari?

I think the image of India is not good nor does not reflect reality in Japan. All the imformation we got there is distorted either chaotic India or religious India like Gandhi or Bhudda. Therefore, most of reguler travellers avoid visiting here and only those backpackers or strange people are gathered here from Japan.....

Something should be done so that my freinds change their minds to visit here!!!

By the way, when I started to learn Hindi, my teacher told me the phrase which is the most useful in India.

"Rahene do"

She told me to use it since lots of guys will try to talk to me.

However, I have never used this phrase except to perstering beggers. Is it a good thing or bad thing? Am I lucky or should I be happy about it? I am still wondering.......

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Hindi exam was over yesterday so I went to see the Memoirs of Geisha. It is not like I wanted to watch the film because of the story but I wanted to see Zhang Ziyi and other actresses playing Geisha.

The film was long and kind a slow. Not to mention, the story is cliche....I mean the another orientalistic stereotype of Japan like The Last Samurai. But I like this film rather than Samurai one due to the actors and actresses. Imagine how odd Tom Cruise plays a samurai. (It is more odd that the film was welcomed by applaud by most of Japanese...)

The Chinese actresses are all my favorite ones. ( I have this weird belief that Chinese women are beautiful) Especially, Kong Lee was great. She could act a women who has a pride with her beauty and talent but at the same time always being scared. She did act so well that the role did not become a women who just jealous Sayuri.

I heard that there are some criticism among Japanese that it is wrong that Chinese play Japanese women. I wanna say that this is bull shit. This kind of essentialistic argument is based on the assumption that there is something undoubtful or definit "Japaneseness" among Japanese. Well, pronunciation of Japanese is bit different, yes, but there is nothing wrong other than that in the film. I mean, I do not know how to behave when I wear Kimono. (Never wore them in my life.) It is not like I know how to behave as what they call "genuin Japanese" by nature, rather that kind of thing does not exist. Japanese should admit that there are no actress who can play that role.

Other things...everyone looked so skinny in the film which surprised me.....I guess it is because I am not get used to see Indian actresses who are relatively chabby in international standard. Haha, actually, I now think that Indian girls are healthy than East Asians. East Asians should stop thinking about losing weight.

I would say that this film is not worth paying money to watch honestly. They could have made the film shorter by cutting some scene of childhood. Moreover, the ending was.....I thougt it was pathetic. I mean....well that is great that Nobu-san was found of Sayuri for long time. He was her "Daddy-Long-Legs"! what?!