There was a man at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Bleecker Street at noontime, holding up handmade cardboard signs numbered from one to ten as women passed by, the numbers being his rating of their looks. He, a featureless, potbellied construction worker who labored at a nearby site, was barely a one, but this in no way diminished his enthusiasm. He smirked as he judged.
Teresa ignored him. She had been avoiding such men all her life. But the seventh or eighth time she passed, safe on the other side of Sixth Avenue, she stopped to watch. A question had hit her: does he juggle ten signs? He didn’t. After a few minutes, she had seen all this signs, a ten, a nine, a seven, a five, and a two. For a moment, Teresa wondered what would happen if she passed him, if she allowed him to rate her. For a moment only, for she knew she never would.
Is Tokyo considered a popular spot for romantic escapades? It should be. Experience ( ali ali matra vayeni) tells me. Shristi (well, I keep quoting her as she tells everything “Bidhi puryayera”) had the perfect way to put it after watching the fireworks: “This is what we should do, come here with our lover for Hanobe by the sea, have dinner in the ship (we could see it nearby) and then spend the night in this five star hotel. ” After the visit to Disneyland the next day, Sampada had her plans ” Buda sanga aune ho yahan ta bachha harulai liyera.” And there were these “ooth salbalayo” jokes by another friend on seeing live-lip locking sessions in Bidesh. For me the only thing I longed for was Pineapple (the fruit) after visiting Disneyland or salt as I would feel the dire need of it all of a sudden! So much for romance. Surprisingly I wasn’t the only one worrying about the lack of romance in my life!!!ha ha haha It Felt good to have somebody else worrying for once 😉
The day was sunny, the sunniest of all the ones we were in Japan. It was the Tokyo Disneyland Visit that day. To make the visit easier we were divided into different groups and I was to be escorted by two wonderful guys; Shyo and Yukki. Despite having slept for more than 6 hours the earlier night I was too tired to walk, too tired to talk and too tired even to smile back politely. I never felt so weak all my life (reason: was surviving on Imli Pachak that’s why). But my group was an interesting mix: a Chinese girl, two Nepalis, an Indian guy (we named him “Thuldaiko Choro” as India’s Da Big Brother) and Four Japanese friends.
I knew I was silent but was doing my best to be interactive. I realized my failure at it when the Chinese friend, a sweet girl asked me “Don’t you want to talk to us?” It was pretty embarrassing though I had a reason.” Oh, I am sorry, I do. But I have no energy, I feel very weak.”
“No, energy..” she repeated while I hoped that she understood.
I was dying to sit down, anywhere just any place would do. Finally the long awaited break was there. Time for lunch. Everyone else ordered to eat while I closed my eyes with my head on my arms. Someone handed me a Energy Bar, I took a bite and went back to my energizing nap! But Shyo had a mission. Yukki explained that Shyo had listed some questions in his notebook for me to answer. “Kasto sweet” I thought, I mean he had jotted down the questions in English. I got up to answer.
Question No 1: What do you do in weekends?
” I go to temples in the morning. Used to, I corrected. Nothing really, just watch tv, read books, write and go for evening walks. ah..I love to walk in the evenings under the streetlamps and then have a glass of Cold Coffee.” I smiled back.
“Cold Coffee?” Shyo asked.
“Yes. I love cold coffee in summer.” I answered, looked at him for sometime and thought it’s over now and went back to sleep.
I could hear my friends conversing and laughing but I didn’t care. I raised my head and Keiko reported,” He’s asking why you don’t have a boyfriend.”
“Why I don’t have a boyfriend?” I mean is that a question. Does anyone ask a question like that? Why don’t I have a boyfriend? I was shocked. An out of the world expression crept into my face, automatically. The Indian Guy was pointing at my face and saying “Hold it, hey look at her face. You should take a picture of that!” I kept staring at Shyo for sometime. What was I supposed to answer? “Why? Tat’s ovious, can’t you see. Because I am so ugly, that’s why.” That was the first thought that came to my mind but decided against uttering those words as it didn’t feel like a “Japanese Answer” but a Nepali One. What’s the universal reason for a girl not having a boyfriend? ” Chaina ta chaina kasko ke lagcha, feri maile keta ko ta kurai gareko chaina….hyaaaaa feri tehi prasna!” I had no answer.
I was looking out at the sea, totally engrossed in it. Turned around and the picture had already been taken. His hands are in the air, worry not! 🙂 I think its a classic for no reason! Pic by Keiko
The Indian Guy came to my rescue by telling him in South Asia the culture was different. Having boyfriends and girlfriends isn’t the trend….But I cut him short. I wanted Shyo to know the real Nepal, not the “tourist book” culture. ” People do have boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s just not so explicit though my college is a different story. It depends. But I don’t have an answer to your question.”
“I never expected a question like that! You literally Shocked me.” I told him again and he was repeatedly apologizing (well the Japanese are just toooooo polite to handle). I didn’t want him to be Sorry, it made me feel bad but I was genuinely shocked. Must be because “Love Talks” are history for me. Having been a participant observer of so many lives, fall, and rise, crushed, betrayed and murdered by the damn emotion it interests me no more. Obviously, I don’t interest it either….. Wish to talk this way with him. Sadly everything can’t be explained in Simple English I guess…
We walked out of the eatery and I remember the moment very clearly. He said “Then I am your Japanese Boyfriend.Okay? “I laughed.” That’s sooo nice of you to say that. But be careful of what you say, your girlfriend will surely get angry!” I told him and immediately felt it was such a Typical Nepali thing to say!!” (Btw he had just celebrated his one year anniversary with his girlfriend a day before the Disneyland visit). We walked on and I smiled at myself thinking “ La ma ta khatra raichu ni, direct Japanese Boyfriend! Feri khojeko ni hoina, afai bhancha ta ma ke garun!! ha ha ha”
I was moved nevertheless, who wouldn’t be? And I won’t deny that it’s always great to meet the normal boys when all my life I have only met guys who come to me to show off how smart and intelligent they are or whatever! I mean I’m not interested in discussing politics, art, youth and possibilities blah blah day and night. I mean I don’t even know anything about them, just get the hell out of my sight. It’s not my fault that I look Serious???! But I do enjoy observing the instant change in guys when they’re within my orbit!! Bring the world’s biggest flirt and he’ll turn into a Sadhu and start discussing “Social Issues” with me, I can bet my bottom dollar on that one! Ramailo huncha observe garna ha ha ha its psycho! It’s fine for now at least 🙂
Teresa was not pretty. Not good-looking. Not sexy. Not “exotic.” Not anything in the category called Lovably Featured. She was not a horror. Intelligent and honest, she had concluded, after years of sifting the euphemisms of her friends and reading the impatient critiques of strangers, that she was acceptable. Good enough to get by in a host of situations, good enough even to command some little authority, some respect, if she remembered to keep a pleasing calm about her. But not sharp enough to entice, to promise, to win. Rough men left her alone, and that can be useful. But so did the nice ones.
From the story “Teresa Forgives herself”, Book: A Bad Man is Easy to Find by M.J. Verlaine
Now let me move on to the Part II of romancing in Japan. LOL. Its the YUKATA chapter. If you are wondering what a Yukata is, then here’s a simple explanation. Its like a Kimono (you surely know of it) but not that heavy, it’s the day to day wearable version of the Kimono. Guys and girls both wear it in Japan and it’s interesting to watch them glide in their cultural dress in the busy train stations when we are so ashamed to wear Daura-Suruwal (the national dress for men) here.
The first Yukata story I heard was this. According to M Didi the young men and women (boyfriends and girlfriends) wear Yukata and go to watch Hanobe together. She said as the Japanese have the (universal) habit of falling in and out of love the act is done only when they are serious about their relationship. She added the boy presents his girl with a Yukata then and they go to watch Hanobe. The Yukata is special and girls who haven’t received their own wear their mother’s. We wore a Yukata to watch the Hanobe too, and it made me value the dress even more. I mean my first impression was: Yukata is the symbol of Love. I wanted to verify it with a Japanese friend. I asked if it was so and he said, “Not exactly. Most Japanese girls buy their own Yukata and wear it. It’s not a rule or something. Some present it to their girlfriends too.” Even so, I stuck to the first story as it sounded better!
After singing in the Karaoke Bar, on our last evening in Japan, our friends started showering us with gifts. Shyo had a rather big bag in his hands which was already making me scared. I mean I am not at all comfortable with receiving gifts. I don’t like to be the recipient nor the giver coz its soo confusing. Even so, he handed me the bag. “Please see.” He said. The gift was wrapped inside a pink and white shawl. “The Japanese wrap it this way.” He said as I remembered seeing that in “Ocene”. It was a Yukata!! I was so flustered yet so moved, so what not that I almost showed it all by saying what was on my mind ” Oh God, oh my I can’t believe this..what can I do for you, how do I thank you…” (A typical Cancerian there). Keiko and Shingo weren’t much help when they started wowing it too. I could say nothing but “A picture of us?” (What a thing to say!!)..Gifts are so damn confusing…!! I was too moved to say anything else.
Tat’s someone with the Obi(fan) 🙂 Pic by Shristi
There were goodbyes, everyone left but he was going the same way as us. ” You live in Funambushi, “( Funambishi? I am confused now) don’t you?” I asked him.
“Oh! You remember.” He sounded surprised and impressed at the same time.
“Yes I do.”
And guess his last words? ” ….. When you have a boyfriend, please tell me. I want to congratulate you!”
“Sure will. But it has to be a top secret!” I answered back laughing and forming a ‘T’ with my hands as our Japanese friends often do while saying “Top Secret”.
Now I have the answer to his question. “Well, that’s because I have never come across such a genuine, kind and considerate person like you!”
That’s all about my Tokyo Romance! Now some Kathmandu wishes: Its Teej tomorrow, isn’t it? So wish every girl has the time of her time with her Guy( if you have one). Gahirai parecha ra mann lage brata linu( its a free world je gare ni huncha), parya chaina vane I wish everyone gets a Bindaas Buda someday, Shivaji kind- napayeni kehi kunna jindagi araam sanga chalcha hai sathi ho. You always got options. Live the MOMENT. CARPE DIEM. SEIZE THE DAY!!
“Don’t worry about love,” Aunt Sophie always told Ruth Ann. “Don’t worry money, don’t worry his family, don’t worry looks, all right? But you know what you should worry? Above all, you must find a good man. A good man, Baby Ruth. Who will take care of you and adore the children and has insurance and doesn’t drink or smack you or go around places at night. And if by chance he might also be a little humorous and maybe can dance without stepping on your knees and sometimes comes home with a flower or a bag of candy, that’s nice and please God that’s what I’m praying for you, darling. But always remember it’s all extras, like the radio in a car. You buy a new car, you don’t buy for the radio. You buy for the car. You know what I’m talking?”
“I want a husband on a big white pony,” said Ruth Ann. She was five, sitting at the kitchen table making doodles. “He has a hat like Peter Pan, and then he would save me from the pirates.”
From the story “A Bad Man is Easy To Find” , Book: A Bad Man is Easy to Find by M.J. Verlaine