Monday, December 25, 2017

Flagged it

I realised recently that I have visited a whole bunch of countries whose flags have just white and red in them. As someone whose knowledge about flags is zero, this was quite eye opening. So I thought, why not visit all countries whose flags just contain white and red? Life is long enough :)


I've been to:
🇯🇵 Japan
🇵🇱 Poland
🇭🇰 Hong Kong

I must go to:
🇲🇨 Indonesia
🇮🇩 Monaco
🇦🇹 Austria
🇱🇻 Latvia
🇸🇬 Singapore
🇨🇦 Canada
🇨🇭 Switzerland
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇧🇭 Bahrain
🇹🇷 Turkey
🇹🇴 Tonga
🇹🇳 Tunisia
🇬🇱 Greenland
🇵🇪 Peru
🇲🇹 Malta

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Selfing

How well each day turns out is pretty much equal to which version of you decided to play frontwoman that morning. Today, being a Sunday, seems to have allowed my inner disciplinarian to show up. Of course, she does show up unannounced, but my other alter ego - insufferably spoilt child-adult is always armoured and ready to beat her down to a pulp.

I wonder a lot about self-love and I know now, probably always have known, that self-love is almost entirely dependent on self-discipline. It's crazy how much leeway you can give yourself in the name of being lazy, or tired, or lazy because of being tired, or worse: both.

I initially opened up my laptop to binge House of Cards but then somehow landed on here, writing about what I'm feeling, rather than doing what I seem to do every Sunday anyway.

I am guilty. I am guilty of letting my life pass me by and it's because I am Brutus-ing. I am torn between doing something and doing nothing about my problems. I am slowly inching up Maslow's hierarchy of needs and it's happening without my actively wanting it to happen.

This blog post is not about me proclaiming some big metamorphic personality change. I think it's just my way of accepting my insecurities, translating them into nice chewable words and maybe being able to do something about it. I'm going to document every little thing that's been bothering me about how I'm living my life in the hope that now that's on the public blogosphere, my guilt deepens and that induces action. What's scary is that I could feel better and continue to do nothing. But that's the risk I'll take. :)

How good is it to be self-aware? And be an over-thinker at the same time? Not so good. I'll tell you why. Because self-awareness combined with fluctuating self esteem levels leads to self-pity and self-deprecation. And ultimately, unwelcome posts like these.

It's hard being painfully honest with yourself. It's like being your own best friend who will tell you straight up to your face what's wrong with you when you'd much rather just pretend nothing's the matter. But I want to try, and I want to do it for the sake of catharsis, and self-improvement. Or whatever I'll tell myself. Even though I want to go back and count the number of times I've said "self" in this post already, I'm going to swallow the impulse and just get started. I'm going to just make a neat little list of everything I don't like and want to change about myself.
  1. I gobble. I literally don't chew. Case in point: while writing this, my mom decided I should eat breakfast. I must have gorged on the tea and parathas in no less than 5 minutes while thinking about what I'd write next and itching to get back to the laptop. I have lost count of the number of times my mom will look at me while we're eating dinner and say "Slow down, what's the hurry?!" And I try. I want to enjoy my food. I want to make it last and really chew. Take small bites and devour each one. But somewhere along the line, my relationship with food has gotten so bad that while I appreciate the sight and the smell, I need to finish the act of eating so that I can move on to the next thing. Because food's food right? It's just a meal to get over with. But no. I don't like that. I feel like I can't breathe sometimes after a meal or even during the day. And that's because I drink my water too fast too. My dream is that I mindfully eat; that I take charge of not just how I'm eating, but also what and when.

  2. I need to make use of the gigantic gallon full of apple cider vinegar I have. I hate being wasteful. I hate opening up my cupboard and making eye contact with that abominable container. I got it thinking I'll use it for my skin, hair, and overall health but I haven't found a way to regularly use the damn thing.

  3. Speaking of unused things, my mom got me this electric kettle a couple of years ago when I really got into brewing teas before bed. I just stopped using it. It's just lying there, a reminder of a lovely idea that I can enjoy a hot drink of water or tea whenever I'd like. In pursuit of a disciplined life, I imagine that I will use it every single day, morning and night.

  4. I work 9-10 hours a day and my work is very fulfilling, but I really wish I could squeeze in an hour of physical exercise everyday. It's the one thing that really bothers me. For the longest time, I would either be enrolled in some kind of Zumba or Yoga, hell even a CrossFit class but for the last 6 months, I've stopped all classes. This means that the chance of any kind of exercise happening completely depends on will. I tire easily, I sleep deeply, and I find it difficult to get out of bed. My stamina is shit. I am 25 and I recently found out that my metabolic age is 34. I fire myself up to go for walks, or start Couch to 5k programs, but that rarely lasts longer than a week. I make excuses: "It's wintertime, I am not going to ruin deep sleep for an early morning run", "I am not a morning person, I literally can't follow through", "I don't have any energy to do a post-work workout", and my latest excuse: "I'll wait for all my music to be uploaded to Apple Music and then start." It just goes on and on. I like my body and its curves and it's no longer about looking hot, but more about feeling strong and energetic. When I was in Japan, I used to easily walk some 5-10 kilometers a day and it was the most exercise I got all year. Everyday I woke up feeling so good, so full of energy and just so ready. I have an entire section in my cupboard devoted to just workout wear, again, going completely unused. Somewhere, I know I can do this. It's just a matter of saying, fuck it, I'm going to do this for me and no excuses allowed. I just need to start and not give up for a change.

  5. I'm getting older, and so is my skin. I would love to start a nice nighttime skincare regimen. I am already kind of getting there, what with the introduction of coconut oil in my life. But I want to have an elaborate system where I diligently follow steps so it's more satisfying to do.

  6. I've been going to Scrabble national tournaments once a year, every year, since 2010. And I'm not getting better. I don't practice, I don't prepare, and I don't play as much as I used to. I hate that I'm withdrawing from it when I love it so much. I get so into it for the 3 days that it happens, and for 10 days after, and then it just gets forgotten. My dream is that, in my newfound disciplined life, I get into studying lists (the best players study!), and I practice at least 4-5 hours per week.

  7. My music is so passionlessly ignored. I want to take up an instrument, ideally keys, and really get into studying music theory. I know that it will help me in composing. My songwriting skill needs a lot of work too. While I find it simple to write poems, I simply struggle with writing "normal people" lyrics and creating melodies. I would love to be able to create an additional source of income doing live gigs in a band, writing great music and improving my own singing skill. I feel like a copycat/mimicry artist sometimes: that I only know how to catch a tune and copy someone else's singing. That I have no original talent because I don't know how to or can't understand how to vocally harmonize. But I like that I think of my music this critically now. I think it will help me work on it and get better.

  8. I need to finish my knitting project. I started knitting this long wool blanket (for my future puppy/baby; whichever comes earlier) almost 3 years ago and it's still just the length of a washcloth. Ideally, I should be knitting mindlessly every time I am mindlessly watching TV. But it's wonderfully neglected in a drawer with my socks that I never open because who needs socks if you're not going to workout?
Umm... I think that's all the problems I have with myself. I actually feel a little better. Now back to resuming my "normal" Sunday bingeing session.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Zooming Around Zebras

Always be alert
Because cities burn

Cared? Didn't care.
Didn't even dare.

Eventually fire enveloped
Four gardens faraway
Good hearts grieved

He instantly headed
Inside Jameson Island

Jack's kinda jacked
Killed lovely kids
Lost men's lives
Mainland never mattered

Neither orders nor
Others' polite offers
Probing questions perhaps
Queries retracted quickly
Radio silence replies
Sadly terrible situation

Tomorrow under tornadoes
Using ventilators until
Very wonderful vividness
Watching x-rays with
Xeroxed yellow Xboxes
Yelling zoning yes

Thursday, November 23, 2017

No thanks I'm a Title Phobe

My friend Dennis whose friend is a menace plays tennis
Not the friend that's a menace but Dennis
He plays tennis and he went to see the dentist

The man went all the way to Venice
Not Dennis but his friend who is a menace
To reconnect with his woman then miss
Now missus she still wondered if men kiss
Each other in public like a pub is

Back to my friend Dennis
His molars are happier so he smiles like Elvis

Friday, October 20, 2017


I like the coming together of two words. My favourite words are compound words.


How dare you sneer at the sniggering nigger near you?
Just because you're wearing a Kimono over your monokini doesn't make you an anagram queen
Fortune is such that after you've gambled and struck gold, you could end up on the streets mangled and stone cold

How tightly you hold on and how much you surround yourself with clutter is in direct proportion
Which is why it's not entirely shocking to see a hoarder declutter
The science of clutter is intriguing
Zero utility with a generous dash of emotional security
If utterly neglected garbage is powerful enough to contribute to your mental health
It makes you wonder
What else is keeping a human mind stable?
How ironic is it that lack of sanitation enables sanity!

Decluttering can be very cathartic
It's like a cold shower after being outside in the hot sun all afternoon

It makes you realise that Sheryl Crow had the right idea after all:
"It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got"

Sunday, October 01, 2017

8 Observations about Japan as a Tourist

It's been a few days since I returned from my holiday with my sister in Japan and I'm still happily recovering from the sights, sounds and smells of that literally fantastic country.

1) Amazing sanitation systems

Japanese cleanliness is simply unbeatable. Their toilets are the most elaborate you'll ever see. Self flushing? Check. Self cleaning? Yes. Self opening?! YUP.

They even have toilets where you can turn on recorded water flowing sounds for those who are self conscious about having too noisy a pee. My mind is most blown by the sheer options of ways your poop taking experience can be enriched.
I'm so tempted to start a retail business of Toto/Panasonic washlets!

2) Stations, JR Lines, Subways & Shinkansen

To a tourist, the public transport systems in Japan can be quite challenging to figure out just because of the complexity of various service providers and lines. Compared to the London Underground, which I found to be large, Japan's railway and subway system is easily a lot bigger, more intricate and complicated. As a JR pass holder, most routes are easy to figure out using a city map about public transport. We also found that the NAVITIME app made things easier. The Shinkansen bullet train experience is definitely recommended. The best way to describe the speed would be to say that it's like when an aircraft is preparing for take-off. It goes so fast, my ears would pop!

People watching is fun, and most of the crowd in the cities on public transport are office goers with iPhones and cute old people with Sudoku and other activity books in their frail hands.

As I work for a company that sells headphones and I've heard that in Japan it's considered disrespectful to leave before your boss does, I could tell the abject difference in quality of headphones with a 7 PM crowd and a 9 PM crowd.

3) Vending machines everywhere

I have to say, no man can ever be thirsty while in Japan's cities because there are vending machines for the most interesting drinks everywhere imaginable. Japanese people love their coffee and cold teas. I think they prefer coffee to tea, surprisingly as I saw in lots of cafes where the wording was "Coffee & Tea" and practically all their vending machine drinks are cold coffees from 100+ brands.

4) Unbelievably sheer stockings... or just great skin?

It's very hard to tell if a Japanese woman has stockings on or if her legs are just that perfect. This is not really a Japanism but this happened to me way too much to not strike out in my memory. I also admired everyone's hair there: so sleek, black and straight!

5) Iced water served at every restaurant

Every restaurant experience we had, the first thing we would get served is a nice glass or water filled with like 6 ice cubes. Now that I think of it, even the glasses looked the same.

6) Packets of tissues as handouts

Outside most busy stations, we'd inevitably get handed out some kind of ad campaign in the form of a packet of tissues. A pretty nice idea, I would think, as most people just chuck handouts, and with tissues, psychologically there's a lot of utility and safekeeping.

7) Cutesy advertising

There is nothing sexual or sensual about any of the female ad posters in Japan. It was very interesting to see how so many ads showed grown ass women in a childlike, innocent and dewy form. I don't recall seeing any ads with men in them either. I found this strange.

8) Sliding doors

It seems to me that the concept of sliding doors probably emerged from Japan seeing how its space saving and how much wood and glass is used. Very Japanese, indeed. We stayed at a 150 year old traditional house which had wooden flooring and sliding doors everywhere. I loved it!

9) Pachinko gaming buildings

We chanced upon a lot of deafeningly loud Pachinko gaming rooms full of middle-aged people (mostly men) playing arcade or first person shooter type of games in buildings where you're greeted by a well-dressed young woman. I saw a lot of people in their work clothing just sitting in front of a game with big mugs of beer and lots of cigarette smoking.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Arigato Gozaimashita!

Call me a creature of habit, but I have this complacent, almost romantic idea about travelling the world. I indulge myself in consistent, predictable travel quite unlike a adventure junkie with eyes pouring with wanderlust.

Two weeks ago though, I felt a change in this attitude when, ditching the usual Uber called 45 minutes in advance, I stepped out of my house and hitched a rickshaw ride to the airport. While the aircraft was taxiing the runway, my fingers refused to search for my take-off song ("Bed" by Jahzzar). Instead, I surprised myself by just listening to whatever the iPod god decided I should hear then.

15 days later I'm sat at the boarding gate for a flight that will take me home just overwhelmed and grateful for all I've had the opportunity to enjoy in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Harshita, my sister who lives in Australia, was my companion for this wonderful holiday and thanks to her diligent notekeeping, I've decided to do compile it all together for this blog post.
So here we go! This is from Harshita's daywise + citywise journal only slightly edited and embellished with some photos :)

3 Days in Tokyo

Got breakfast at a local bakery just around the corner from the hotel where we were staying. The bakery was called Cattlea on KiyoSumi Dori. I had a bun that had some sort of bean jam inside. Got the train to Asakusa and walked to Buddhist Senso-ji Temple. It is Tokyo's oldest temple built in 628 AD. On the way to Senso-ji we stumbled upon an owl cafe where there were many owls and other animals like capybara, parrots, and squirrels.

whatchu lookin' at!
Kamna then got a caricature at a place opposite the owl cafe and we continued on to the temple. It was very crowded with tourists. At the entrance of the temple there was a massive red paper lantern. We got some matcha ice cream at a shop near the temple. The ice cream was amazing and perfect time to enjoy it under the shade on a hot 30 degree day.

Then we walked about 2 KMs to Tokyo National Museum. The museum was huge full of art and antiques of ancient Japan. But Kamna and I were bored so we just walked around for a bit and left.

Then we headed to KFC in Takadanobaba for unlimited happy hour booze. It was quite a struggle trying to order and ask for the happy hour deal. It ended up costing us a fair amount of money. Afterwards we got the JR line back to the hotel and hung out at the terrace before going to bed.

Woke up early at 6 to get sumo tickets at Ryokugu. Waited in line until about 8.30 and got two tickets. Walked back to the hotel and got breakfast at Ono Cafe right next to the hostel. Got some amazing thick Japanese pancakes and a cold iced coffee. One thing we quickly noticed while walking through the streets was that a lot of people use bicycles to get around. They can ride on the wide pedestrian walk ways. It's so convenient and good for environment and traffic congestion. There are whole parking lots dedicated to bikes and even train stations have their own dedicated parking lots for bikes. Another thing we noticed was that there was virtually no obesity in the country. Everyone looked so fit and healthy.

Napped for a little while then headed to lunch at Tonkatsu Ichikatsu just next to the Ryogoku station. We had battered pork with rice, miso soup with mini clams, shredded cabbage salad and cold tea. Tonkatsu is the name of the dish. The food and experience was authentic with people sitting around the small kitchen on bar stools.

"did u see that ludicrous display last night?"
Then we headed to sumo wrestling at Ryogoku Kokugikan just in time for the senior sumo competition and tuned into the commentary radio. It's an interesting sport with a lot of theatrics, intimidation and build up to the actual fight that lasts less than 10 seconds. It was entertaining to watch.

After sumo we went to Harajuku shopping precinct where we walked down the main Takeshita Street. It was bizarre and enthralling. We went to a weird selfie/photoshop shop full of photo booths and weird young Japanese girls posing for photos. Then we went to the cat cafe that had about 20 cute little purrfect kitties. It was unbearably cute. It was like a little cat fairy tale. We got tickets to spend 30 minutes with the cats. At the entrance there was a slipper dispensing machine so we could change into them before entering the cat room.

After lots of cat photos, we continued to walk down Takeshita Street and saw some interesting shops like Crepe Dessert shops, jewelry and clothing stores. Really wanted to get the flower lipstick but it was too expensive (2000 yen). We also stopped by a nice accessories shop and window shopped for a while.

Then we went to Shibuya crossing and posed with the Hachiko dog statue. Hachiko was an Akita known for his loyalty. He would meet his owner Ueno at Shibuya station every day after work until one day his owner died and did not return. But Hachiko waited at the same spot everyday for 9 years. What a heart touching story. We walked through the famous busy Shibuya Crossing. The place was so busy. We walked into Don Quijote mega store which pretty much had all sorts of goods but we mainly looked at the confectionery section with all kinds of sweets. Kamna bought some carrots and what looked like 'giga puddi' (caramel custard). They also had a whole bunch of interesting Kit Kat flavours.

Then we had dinner at Doutor Cafe, just some pork rolls after which we walked around Shibuya for a bit before heading back to the hostel.


We started the day with a trip to Bunkyo Civic Centre where we got an amazing Tokyo City view. The observation floor was on the 25th floor. We you a good city view without having to pay which is what you would need to do at the Tokyo Sky Tree.

paper done right
Bunkyo is a residential and educational Ward in Tokyo. We then made our way to LaQua which was essentially a mall with a roller coaster. Did some window shopping there and really liked the red framed glasses worth 9000 yen, then headed to Ochanomizu Origami Kaikan which is the world's first Origami centre. Over there I bought some artwork for home. The origami was interesting and beautiful delicate artwork. There was a room full of origami demons.

We then headed to Tsukiji to see the fish market only to realise that it was closed since it was about 5.30pm by then. We walked through Shimbashi suburb which seemed like a very high class business district. There was a new local subway station called Shiodome station that looked so clean and fancy. We got the subway from Shiodome to Shimbashi (1 stop).

After that we headed to a Ramen restaurant in Shimbashi and had a spicy pork Ramen and some dumplings. We then walked into what looked like a pokies arcade type of place but it was full of middle aged men playing "Goldstorm". It's called Panchiko slots and looks like pinball. The players were collecting little metal balls in large containers. Not sure how the game works but on googling it the aim of the game is essentially to collect as many steel balls as you can to exchange for a prize at the arcade. Gambling for cash is illegal in Japan so players can't get cash at the arcade but can sell the prize for cash.

After that we headed back to the hostel then and planned our transport for the next day.

Oak Hotel Edo close to Morishita Subway and 1.5 km to the closest JR station: Ryogoku

2 Days in Kiso Valley 

Checked out of the hotel and got some more medicine for a fever. Headed to Sakashita station via Nagoya and Nakatsugawa. The Shinkansen from Tokyo to Nagoya took about 1.5 hours and was so fast and clean and comfortable. It was about a 4.5 hour journey to Sakashita.

a welcome well done
We were greeted by a cat on our way from the station to our AirBnB. The room we got to stay in had a typical sliding door entry and wooden floors with a low wooden ceiling. The house itself came with wooden ceilings and floors and old vintage furniture collected from old houses being renovated in the area. The bathroom had a deep stainless steel tub.

We dropped our stuff in our room and walked to a nearby grocery store to buy some food. We then walked back and had some cup noodles and called it an early night since I still wasn't feeling too well.

In the morning we made our way to Tsumago via Sakashita and Nagiso station. Tsumago was the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. The cute little Japanese shops and homes were wonderful. There was a beautiful cafe with huge Japanese fish in a pond at the entrance. There was also a chestnut sweet shop where they served warm green tea to go with the sweets. It was so decadent.

bibbity bobbity boo
We continued walking down to the famous photogenic Terashita area and took lots of photos. I bought some postcards and a fridge magnet from a souvenir shop and Kamna bought some Sake from an alcohol vendor. Then we headed back to the bus stop and took a scenic route up the hill to Magome.

At Magome we walked down a hill and on the way stopped at a cafe with an amazing view. We had a stuffed mixed veggie bread (I think it's called anpan) and pancakes with banana and strawberries. We also saw a couple of Ryokan that looked really nice on the outside. I wish we'd known about them so we could stay there instead. We walked past the village water wheel that generates electricity for the entire village. When we hit the bottom of the hill we climbed back up and half way through visited the village temple.

We continued walking further up the hill to a look out point. The clock struck 5 and the village played some very cute music reminiscent of the Japanese anime Heidi. In fact they played this music at a few key times in the day - morning at 7, noon and evening.

Then we caught the bus to Nakatsugawa and the train to Sakashita and walked back home. The weather was horrible that night with a typhoon in the area. Windows rattling made it very hard to sleep.

The AirBnB was owned by Misaki who lived there with her infant Leo and husband Keiki. The house was a 150 year old traditional Japanese house a 5 minute walk from the Nagiso station.

4 Days in Kyoto

serenity = parallel lines
We got some souvenirs from Misaki and were on our way to Kyoto via Nagoya. It was roughly a 3 hour journey. Kyoto station was gigantic. Impressive to say the least. Lots of shops and 33 platforms including JR and subway lines. Our hostel was only a few hundred metres from the station. The hostel was nice. We got there early so left our bags and got some lunch at a nearby restaurant. We had to order our lunch from our table with a tablet device.

We checked in, left our bags and headed to the Fushima Inari shrine. Then we headed to Pontocho area that is by the Kamo River. It was a lane full of restaurants by the river. Kamna tried some takoyaki - octopus dumplings. I thought they were too salty. The restaurants there were quite pricey so we ate at Mr Young Men where I had Okonomiyaki.

Then we walked around and saw some shops before we headed back to the hostel.

We started the day in Arashiyama west of Kyoto. We went to the bamboo forest there. Then we headed to Katsuragawa station and did a long walk for the pug cafe where they had about 11 pugs. I thought they were quite stinky and catlike but Kamna loved them. Her dream come true. We spent an hour there and then headed back to Kyoto station building. We had dinner at a French looking restaurant called Mollete, like an anagram of omlette, where I had a paella type dish with egg and mushrooms. The restaurant was on the 11th floor of the Kyoto station building.

On our way back we took the escalators down and saw a light display on the stairs celebrating the building's 20th anniversary.

We then walked to the city centre which was right outside the station and saw the Kyoto tower. We walked down a street with some pubs and saw one pub with 6 Pomeranians stationed outside. They were all so cute and friendly and well behaved. We then had a couple of beers at the British pub called Hub before heading back to the hostel.

We started our day at Nara Park where there were lots of deer. It was lovely. They were so cute roaming about freely. People could buy what looked like crackers for deer food for 150 yen but there was enough going around anyway so we decided not to buy any.

dat ass tho
We played with the deer for a while then headed to Todai-ji temple. The deer were roaming about freely there too. The entrance gate was impressive, gigantic devil looking statues stood on either side. They must have been guardians of the temple. It was a Buddhist temple. We decided not to go inside having seen so many temples already.

Then we had lunch at a kamameshi place which was a place that serves iron pot rice where the rice on the side is slightly burned called okoge. There was quite a long line up outside the restaurant which is what made us want to try it. We had the Nara speciality which was served with eel, crab and shrimp along with miso soup and pickles.

Then we headed back to the hostel and on the way stopped at Avanti mall where we checked out the Don Quijote shop which was essentially an everything shop where they sold clothing, electronics, make up, etc. We then rested at the hostel for a bit before heading out again for dinner at a sushi train restaurant called Sushi no Musashi. It was in the Kyoto station building. The sushi place was awesome. The biggest sushi train I've ever seen and there was reticulated drinking hot water so you could make your own green tea. We had about 7 plates of sushi where we tried salmon, fish eggs, crab and tuna. Delicious.

the reflection is strong in this one
We started our day at Nijo castle. It's a castle that was built in 1603 and world heritage site. Around the castle is a large moat and there is another smaller inner moat within the outer moat. The Castle was spectacular. It was so well preserved and really did give you the feeling of being in old Japan during the samurai rule. The trees and gigantic stony rocks there were beautiful.

We then headed to Kinkaku-ji temple which is a temple where the top two levels are gold plated. The temple is situated within a small pond which makes it look out of a painting.

We then headed to Arashiyama again to see the monkeys but got there half hour too late since they close at 4.30. We had to walk across the Katsura River and we could see we were surrounded by lush green mountains and the river was so beautiful.
Back in Kyoto we had pizza at an Italian restaurant. It was good to eat some food we were familiar with for a change.

The Lower East Nine Hostel about 5 minutes walking from Kyoto station. Very comfortable stay with free breakfast and cool lounging areas.

2 Days in Hiroshima

First thing in the morning we took the Shinkansen to Shinkobe on the way to Hiroshima.

At Hiroshima we transferred onto the Sanyo Red line towards Iwakuni and got off at Nishi-Hiroshima where our hostel was. The worst hostel so far. Dirty to say the least. But we weren't going to spend much time in the hostel anyway. We left our bags there and headed to Yamato maritime museum.

I like big boats and I cannot lie
The museum was centred around how the town of Kure developed into an important shipping industry during the world war. This is where the battleship Yamato was built. We spent some time walking around the small museum then headed back to the hostel, checked in and headed out again for dinner.

We ate at Okonomiyaki Nagata-ya which was a Hiroshima style okonomiyaki place. On the way there we walked past ground zero where the A-bomb first hit in 1945. At the restaurant they had some stools along the kitchen where there was a huge cooktop along the seating area. There were also cooktops at individual tables. I got the kimchi and bacon okonomiyaki and Kamna had the deluxe okonomiyaki and a Hiroshima special lemon shochu. I also had a carp drink which I think was some sort of spirit and soda.

We walked down Hon Dori Street past all the restaurants and the shops. We saw a Japanese busker singing popular pop songs and Kamna joined him to sing along to "If I ain't got you." We bought his CD with like 4 songs on it too. We then headed back to the hostel.

We started the day off with breakfast at a cafe in Hiroshima station. Then we got the JR tour bus to A Bomb dome. The building was used as a convention sort of building before it was hit by the A-bomb on Aug 6 1945. The bomb exploded 600m in the sky about 200m away from the building. The bomb actually exploded above a hospital killing all the people in it.

still standing with purpose
The target was actually a 3 way bridge not far from the hospital. After many years of oposition, the people of Hiroshima finally decided to preserve the A-bomb dome building as a reminder of the importance of peace.

We then continued walking towards the peace memorial Park and on the way read through the history of the world war in some booklets that were set up by an in-utero survivor Mito Kosei. He said that the information in the museum is not fully accurate and he spent 5 years putting together this booklet. It was very informative. Interestingly, the A-bomb was not necessarily what ended the war and forced Japan to surrender. Japan had already suffered many casualties before the A-bomb and was at the brink of surrendering. The only condition they had was that the emperor would need to remain as head of state but unfortunately negotiations did not go as planned and the US decided to bomb Japan. It may have also been to justify spending 2 billion USD on the Manhattan project.

We made our way to the peace memorial park where there was a fire that is lit forever and we could see it through the cepotaph which had a clear line of sight of the A bomb dome. We then visited the peace memorial museum and learned more about the war, nuclear weapons and their destruction.

After that we headed back to Hiroshima station and got the train to Miyajima station. From there we took the ferry to Miyajima island where the Great Torii and Itsukushima shrine are located. There were also freely roaming wild deer on the island.

After seeing the Torii gate we walked down the restaurants and shops alleyway and had an amazing deep fried cake with custard and cheese filling called Agemomiji. We also had one that wasn't deep fried with chocolate filling. So delicious. Then we had a banana milkshake and walked back to the ferry.

Once back on the main island we waited for the JR tour bus to go to Namiki Dori which was a high fashion shopping area. We had dinner at a pub sort of place called the Hiroshima Diner then headed back to the hostel and planned for the next day.

Guest House Carpe about 5 minutes walking from nishi-Hiroshima station. Terribly unclean. Not recommended.

Day Trip in Kobe & Night in Osaka

First we made our way to our hostel in Osaka to drop our bags off. Once we did that we headed back to Osaka station and found the Baked cheese tart place in the basement of Hanshin building opposite the station. The basement was a "food hall" full of amazing food stalls with desserts, cheese, fish and fresh produce. Everything just looked so delicious. We got a lemon and cheese tart and a plain cheese tart. It's the fluffiest cream cheese I've ever had. It tasted like a cheesecake tart. Exceptional.

We went back to the south gate of the Osaka JR station and saw a water fountain clock that was very cool. The South gate was essentially a mall building and we went to the Pokemon centre and Tokyu Hands shop.

blissful hot spring
After that we headed to Arima Onsen (Kobe) about an hour and a half from Osaka. Arima Onsen was a little Hill station type of town with a beautiful river and cute little shops. We first went to Gin No Yu Onsen which was so relaxing. We had to wash ourselves properly before entering the natural hot spring. Ginsen hot spring is created by channeling water from tansan source and combining it with a radium spring. The waters are clear and this is a traditional hot spring.

We spent about 30 minutes there then headed to Kin No Yu Onsen which is the third oldest hot spring in Japan built in the 1800s. The water here is golden rich in iron and sodium chloride. There were two golden baths - one at 42 degrees Celsius and the other at 44. The 44 felt significantly hotter and we had to ease our way into it and could only spend a maximum of 2 minutes in it at a time.

We felt so refreshed and rejuvenated after the hot spring. We then walked to a nearby okonomiyaki/tepaniyaki restaurant called Ikkyu where we had tepaniyaki chicken gizzard, bacon and egg, Kobe beef and gyoza. The beef was so tender melts in your mouth. It was 3000 yen for about 13 pieces of beef. The beef comes from Waygu cows in Kobe. Kobe beef is one of the three top brands of beef. We also had some Sake along with our dinner which I think was 50% alcohol.

After that we headed back to our hostel.

Sun Village Tamatsukuri is 5 minutes walking from Tamatsukuri station. Very comfortable stay and clean too.

Last Day & Night in Tokyo

The next day we headed back to Tokyo which was a 3 hour journey from Osaka. We had sandwiches from 7/11 for breakfast and lunch since we were running out of yen. When we got to Tokyo we headed to a capsule hotel to check in. The hotel was just amazing. There was a locker room on the first floor, showers on the second floor and capsules on floors 3 to 7.

captivating capsule cocoon
The lockers were operated by QR codes on the key card provided by the reception. The shower had a pillar of water flowing through the middle which was supposed to simulate the feeling of being in a relaxing bath. The capsule was cozy and comfortable like sleeping within a cocoon.

After leaving our bags at the hotel we went to Shibuya to the Don Quijote store to buy Kit Kats. We walked around Shibuya for a bit. It was crazy that it was so busy on Monday afternoon even. Then we headed to Harajuku to buy some accessories we saw before. Kamna got a ring and I got some earrings.

Then we headed to Shinjuku and walked down Omoide Yokocho which was an alleyway with lots of cute restaurants. We ate at a gyoza place and then headed back to the hotel. On the way back we saw lots of bustling restaurants in Kanda near our hotel. There was one which could only occupy 6 people standing around a small table.

When we got to the hotel we had the most amazing shower and called it a night.

9h Ninehours Woman 5 minutes walking from Kanda station. Absolute highlight in terms of stay! Highly recommended.


That's all folks! My hope is that these notes will help those who want to visit better plan their trip. Pro tips: Get the JR Pass and book your flight tickets at least 3 months before your dates.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I've Decided I'll Be Fine

There I said it - I have recklessly been wrecked
Kimya Dawson said this when she heard about MJ dying:
“Having been fucked is no excuse for being fucked up”
So am I to drown in self-pity?
No thanks
When you splash water in your eyes, your eye socket is practically gargling your eyeballs
I never understood people who splash water in their eyes
And movies where you see people underwater with their eyes wide open
My instinct tells me to close my eyes the second there’s a chance of water seeping in
But I don’t understand the world and its people
Nobody wants to take a godless decision and funnily, the god needn’t be God
No one ever dies from lack of attention
It’s better to fake being in love with a real person than admit to being enamoured by a Googlebot
But sometimes it is nice for someone to crawl over you regularly
Reading you, understanding what’s new
Even if it’s so that they can go behind your back and tell the world about you
You can’t hear someone else’s thoughts if you have a loud mind
And you can’t always be aligning and justifying yourself as if you’re a column on Indian
womens cricket
Feeling good is so underrated because feeling great is so overrated
Being honest with yourself is so underrated because not lying to others is so overrated
I could go on
But I get it, and you can’t forget this:
Nobody can set the sun on fire
And you can’t forget this either:
To become futile is to prove fatal

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Rhyme & Mime

I'd like a good night's sound sleep
More than a night spent cruising the streets

I'd like a long face to face conversation
More than a short instant messaging chat session

I'd like a lovely summer spend swimming in the sea
More than a dull winter holed up in bed in front of the PC

I'd like strong drink: some gin or maybe some wine?
Why not passively lounge with no attention to time?

Life has its own mind - it's neither yesterday nor tomorrow
So I've decided to live in today - without any sorrow

So find me a quaint cottage made for six
Housing a quarreling old couple a dog can fix

No Man (or Woman) is an Island

The finality of death is in such stark contrast to the predictability of birth.
Being a psychopath is better than having a psycho in your path
Sipping from a juice box titled "Compliance" may give you the courage to step on stage

But what if you fell in love with love?
And when you fell in love it was to the sound of music that felt like love
What if you understood both the value of meaning and the meaning of value?
And what if you understood that love was meaning?
Then living with meaning would mean living for love

When are you really strong - when you're strong enough to show weakness?
Or are you really strong when you show strength despite being weak?

Meaning can be found in another things though
Because love's not nearly enough for most people
Love has a shelf life
Love needs preservatives

My heart is still mine
And if I choose hope
It's my choice
You don't get to dictate how much and for how long I should care

It's the very same old sad songs that I find myself in when I'm lost
It's the same old pyjamas I feel most comfortable in when I feel like giving up

Your eyebrows and eyelids were the softest I had ever felt
I was utterly devoted to your temples
I am

Every one knows that a broken heart is blind
The insularity of a troubled mind
It's inescapable

But I'll be good
I choose hope

My mother presses the top of the toothpaste tube and I press the bottom
And the days go on

Quotes Quotes Quotes

I can't believe my last post was 3 years ago. Anyway, here goes:

If you don't build a dream, someone else will help you build theirs.

The mind is not in the body. The body is in the mind.

The extent of the love of women is not known, even to those who are the objects of their affection, on account of its subtlety, and on account of the avarice, and natural intelligence of womankind.

Love is the world's infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.

A coward is more afraid of being discovered than he is of anything else, even dying.

You have to learn to drive your own car before you call shotgun on someone else's

You need to know that no one else's opinion can invalidate your own

Once you cultivate the habit of being with yourself no body else's company will come close

100 Things I Love

I wrote this post as an answer to a very dear friend's request a couple of years ago. Nice to have a log of these kind of things.

1. Pugs/Dogs
2. Pirogi
3. Jigsaw puzzle
4. Oranges
5. Sleep
6. Knitting
7. Long walks
8. Singing
9. Listening to music
10. Dreams
11. Period dramas
12. Travelling - train, bus and plane
13. Chocolate
14. Tea
15. Love
16. Roller coasters
17. Long drives
18. Having a quiet conversation when it is quiet
19. Animated movies and cartoons
20. Playing with babies and infants
21. Taking photos
22. Painting my nails
23. Wearing eyeliner
24. Oiling my hair and tying two plaits
25. Looking through old things I have saved for memory safekeeping
26. Dancing with abandon
27. That energetic healthy feeling after working out at the gym
28. When my hair is played with
29. Way 'he' smiles at me
30. When I shower after sweating a lot in the heat and sun
31. New shampoo/soap/conditioner
32. Lip balms
33. Crying when I am feeling low, moody or hormonal
34. Jumping up and down
35. Doing any arithmetic in my head, computer or on paper
36. Reminiscing about the past
37. Planning for the future :)
38. Feeling very excited in the present ;)
39. Really writing or expressing and experiencing my feelings like water
40. Swimming
41. Star gazing
42. Moon gazing
43. Seeing friends after a very long time
44. The rain
45. Snow :)
46. Vodka with orange juice = Screwdriver
47. Wine
48. Candy Crush level clearing
49. Cake
50. Cheese fries
51. Chicken sausages
52. Chicken ham and spam (luncheon meat)
53. Jam
54. Bananas
55. Air plane food
56. Lemon
57. Powder
58. The colour yellow
59. My mom
60. Samosa
61. Taco Bell
62. Polish things
63. Breakfast cereal and muesli
64. Milkshakes
65. Momos
66. Karaoke
67. Stand up comedy shows
68. Poetry
69. Scrabble
70. Sunglasses
71. Floral wedges
72. Summer prints and dresses and tunics that cinch at the waist
73. Handmade soaps
74. Cookies
75. Bad jokes
76. Beaches
77. Laughing till it hurts
78. Inside jokes
79. Ironic jokes and puns
80. Smell of detergent
81. Smell of petrol
82. Hot water bag
83. Socks
84. Massages
85. Holding hands
86. Colouring books
87. Running
88. Water
89. Playing with a flame
90. Bubbles
91. Pay day
92. Towels comforters and bedsheets
93. Gzarniek
94. Sunflowers
95. Reading stories
96. Writing stories
97. Sunday
98. My sister
99. Her dog

100. Time

Spoken Word #1

"Let me tell you a story."

Everyday I would ask, "tell me something scary, I want to hear something that will freak me out. I want to get really messed up in the head. Tell me something scary."

And everyday she would come and say, "let me tell you a story."

And everyday it was the same story. And everyday I used to wonder, "there's nothing scary about this story. Why does she keep saying it the same way in the same delivery and tone and with the same pregnant pauses."

Fear belongs to the unknown. It cannot be anticipated. It can't be measured. It can't be bound by a limited imagination. Fear knows how to take and take it does, very well.

A morbid interest in dark unknowables
Anxiety to keep the sheets warm but your feet cold
Fear that's anticipated but always fucking underestimated
Nightmares that put Alice to shame

You would think it's the perfect recipe for insanity

She will tell you all you're mind is prepared to hear
What she won't tell you is that your curiosity will give you scalded fingers
It will poke holes in a seemingly strong sense of self
It will create existential doubt so profound
A mere mirror'd personify true terror

To decrypt is not to heal
Guess what though
Foregoing is

And Accepting is

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pleasingly Positive Post for Posterity

Vacant with a few rooms to rent
Or a buzzing hive
Or calm like the ocean with volcanoes on the floor

Such elusiveness
Much appeal

Please don't mind me while I mine my mind

Bad kidneys make you disturbingly obese when you're approaching senility (in other words, oldage)

I walked out this morning and passed a hawker by my gate
Hawking is great skill
Had me imagine a sweet father-son relationship
Regular training sessions
Where a little boy of four gazed in wonder and admiration
As his father taught him the art of hawking
The twang the throat had to create
To create an echoing reverberation
Throughout the entire society
Thoroughly​ throughout four buildings
How lovely it would have been: the days where he would hold his father's little finger while they walked through the city's suburban lanes
Selling and buying rejected old books
And old paper
He learned how to read from given up old school books
How to write basic English words by taking a pencil and writing over thrown away homework
Everything he knew today was because of those rejected papers
And today he goes back to a family that loves him
A good life his father chose for him
His own son is learning now everyday
How to hawk and how to read
And how to write
And how to be like his father
And his grandfather

How simple
And how truly wonderful

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mildly Mindless Mindfulness

There is a lot to be said about not knowing
Would we know everything we know today
With the confidence with which we know it
If we started out with the premise of imagining all that was unknown to be inherently unknowable?

And if we were pessimistic fools
Rather than arrogant buffoons
How real could this confidence possibly be?

Till the day one lives in a bodysuit under serenely blue earthlight, if that day were to ever come, all that is unknowable is likely to stay that way

What's going to happen to all the orbital debris?
Look at the mess we've made in such a huge space
Who's going to want to visit when the front lawn is filthy?

My friend Toby, being honest told me one day, that one day the water will go bland
But Toby was misinformed
Because water was always bland
He took to the bottle and the bottle took his life
My last text to him was a typo
I said "Sea you"
What an unintended curse

Sometimes the mind is so quiet
All you can feel is something like
Baling hay

And sometimes
Minds take trips

Friday, January 13, 2017

Gauged, Waged, Raged, Bandaged & Caged

A life where it's assumed that there is life after work. Where you can afford a big house and a car in a good suburb. Where little puppies can run with abandon in wide open dog parks. Where simple joys like sunsets and sand and moonlight and fresh air are hungrily devoured. Where you can climb mountains weekly. Where your knees, not your very soul, could possibly pose the only true threat. Where evenings are open to indulge in your surroundings. A truly liveable life. An idyllic reality a mind like mine struggles to fully fathom.

A life where work consumes your mind and practically every waking hour. Where owning a one bedroom apartment is an impossible dream. Where billboards and smog continually dissipate all ideas of natural beauty. Where all imagination endures a silent death. Where a mind, however motivated, is constricted by the lethargy of a increasingly unhealthy body. Where there's not a fortunate moment of privacy. Where the crowds only exaggerate solitude without the quietude. Where there is adversity, terribly sorry sights, everywhere the eyes can see. Where empathy takes a backseat in exchange of a modicum of unchallenged peace.

To have the choice to change
To forego familiarity that bred comfort
To abandon a love I may never find again
To wipe clean the slate for a predictably stable future

Or to stay loyal to a life once dearly forged
And continue regularly to
Being content with being dealt an unequal hand
Working harder every day for an impossible end
Dreaming big dreams
Making globe-trotting plans
Independently hosting sustainable happiness

I may never know what could have been
The curiosity of not knowing can kill me
The indifference of not knowing can save me