Last week, (February 15th) marked the passing of 4 years since the day I landed in Tokyo.
There are two things that I remember most clearly about those early days - one was that it was cold. I flew in straight from Chennai, India, a city known for it's winter-less, almost year-round hot-wet climate. It turns out that mid-February is the coldest time in Tokyo. The other thing was this sense of realization, this feeling of the gravity of the situation I'd put myself into; this big, yet ignored, "WHAT HAVE I DONE!" ringing loud in my subconsciousness.
I'd traded in a well-paying job, a life of comfort and familiarity, in the name of adventure. Not that there is anything remotely adventurous really, about spending your days in long meetings, not understanding a word being said around you, and having to work insane hours everyday. But in the beginning, all that was different. It really was an adventure, as anyone who decides to hit the ground running will attest to.
Every time I felt cold enough or hungry enough to ask myself why on earth I was roughing it out like the way I was, the only answer was that I did not want to let myself get further ensconced in the familiarity of the same old streets I'd known for a quarter of a century. Now put it like that, and you convince yourself that that's enough contempt bred to warrant an escape - And I had life so good back then in Chennai, in a way that one simply cannot appreciate, out of utter boredom.
But an adventure it was; in all the good senses of the word. I loved Japanese food, (and still do. Who doesn't?) revelled in observing the needless automation around me, the over-engineering, the attention to detail, the sheer number of things to see. One gets bored, or course, but my eyes were biased to technology, to details, constantly imagining how all those servo motors and hydraulics keep themselves hidden. I would write these massive, long emails about everything I was seeing and doing in Tokyo, cheesy writings that I am probably ashamed of right now, in the way that people who've lived in Japan for a few years mock newly-arrived, suitably bewildered Gaijins. I haven't written any of these mails now, ever since, in the fear that they might get discovered and laughed at.