Tuesday, May 22, 2007
My first job in Japan!!!
As I was reclining on my rocking chair today, just trying to relax ,my thoughts flashed back to seven years , and I could definitely feel my lips twitch into a wide smile !!!.Just recollecting those memories made me feel like grabbing those precious moments, those moments,I surely don`t want to let go.Then why not let those experiences live again,why not unlock them and put them down here.
I have been fortunate to visit and stay in various countries, where I could get a first hand knowledge of the various cultures, traditions,customs and different people.I traveled to the land of the rising sun,Japan, along with my husband and stayed there for an year.Then after a short stay in India, I could stay in Taiwan for yet another year.My next stop was at South Africa,where I again spent a couple of months.Back in India,I planned to settle down with my family.But as always, man proposes and God disposes.Providence had it that I again pack my bags (which were now exceeding limits as we were not two anymore, we were four!!!).We flew to Detroit, and we are here now ,I know not for how long.The most important lesson these travels have taught me is to live the moment.I have also realized that it is best to travel light.Light , not only in terms of bags and baggage... but also in terms of your very own self.In our journey of life , the lesser the baggage of troubles , grievances and past unhappy episodes we carry, the more comfortable and enjoyable the journey becomes!!!
When we first boarded the plane for Japan,I was filled with all excitement and thrill, not only regarding visiting a new country but also about flying for the very first time.To crown it all ,this was also a honeymoon trip for me as we were newly weds, slowly getting to know each other (this is a rare privilege only arranged marriages can offer). I received Japan with all the wonder and awe of an infant.... for the people and the language they spoke, was very new to me.All of them looked so similar,so brisk ,so formal....I wondered if I could ever get to know them. After my first few days in Japan, my fascination and enthusiasm slowly started to drain....the dark clouds of loneliness and homesickness had dawned on me.I felt stuck , unable to decide what to do next.....My husband was loving and caring ; but I knew for sure that I needed to explore....But where do I start....I was in an unknown place, surrounded by unknown people... i found it impossible even to get a glance from any of them.How will I survive !!! But yes..... I could hear it very clearly ringing in my ears...in my state of utter helplessness, I heard my inner voice speak to me .Something was awaiting me....
That very day I went out of our apartment and headed towards a library which was situated in an adjacent building.I found that it was mainly having Japanese books , though a section was dedicated to English, which had very few books to match my taste.On the notice board I spotted an advertisement......"If you are interested to talk to Japanese women in English, please contact, Tomito San."I jotted down the number and as soon as I got home I spoke over the phone to Mr. Tomito.He was speaking to me in broken English, but seemed to be very amiable.He asked me whether I was interested in teaching English.I told that I was interested , but I didnt follow Japanese.He assured me that my prospective students could follow English and that wouldn`t be a hurdle.I was ready to give it a try.Tomito San(San was used instead of Mr. and while addressing kids one was supposed to use chan.), agreed to pick me up at my apartment at five in the evening.Though I put up a brave face,I did feel the butterflies in my stomach....I was going to an unknown place with a total stranger.Tomito San came at the said time and took me to his home where his wife was waiting for us. Slowly I started feeling better.They lead me to their language school which was attached to their house...there I found a few doll like faces about ten years of age, seated with their parents.There was a black board and a huge world map, with special markers around India, and around Kerala, where I hail from. Tomito San had already done a research about India and started delivering his well prepared speech. I was seated like a guest of honour. In my stomach it was no more butterflies but fire..... What was I supposed to do? I was totally unprepared...... was I supposed to deliver a speech?
Tomito San wound up his speech and looked in my direction .....what did this mean?... I had not heard a word of what he said...moreover it was all in Japanese...
Now it was my turn to speak.... All the faces were intendly staring at me.....I needed to speak very slowly gathering my thoughts clearly and carefully.I was supposed to start my class right away ,and the parents will assess my caliber as a teacher.This was much more difficult than appearing for my post graduate viva.
I introduced myself and then went on to ask the names of my new students.I posed a question at them.,
"What is your name?"They seemed blank.
I spoke now with more affirmation and also started using my hands and facial expressions.I repeated my name and once again asked their names... No answer still...
Was I FAILING?....What to do next?
......Suddenly I remembered a rhyme I used to sing in my kindergarten...
"If you`re happy and you know it clap your hands..."
I might have looked like a fool singing and clapping my hands all of a sudden... but it clicked. All of them started clapping hands and I could see the parents bowing their heads every now and then. Whom should I thank now ....may be my kindergarten teacher who taught me this rhyme!!!
After the singing and clapping all of them got up and like the dolls who start talking with the turn of a key, I could hear them say " Arigatogosaimata!!!"(thank you) with a long bow. I too bowed down though I was unsure of the degree of curvature, meant for a Sensei(meaning teacher). As we were about to leave I was handed an envelope, which I again received with yet another bow. I was eager to know what lay inside ... I hurried home and found 2000 yen , Yes I was appointed teacher to an English language school..... and that was my first salary in Japan.