Day 11: Looking for the unique

My classmates organized a screening of Howl’s Moving Castle before our regular class time. Howl’s Moving castle is a popular animated film of Miyazaki. It was about an 18 year old girl who was cursed and became a 90 year old woman. She ends up in a Castle that keeps moving and belongs to a wizard called Howl. Although it seemed like a typical Disney movie about curses and princes and love in some ways, it was quite different in its twists and turns. To be honest, only the ending was typical and cliched where (spoiler alert!) the bad characters give up or turn over to the good side and random objects are kissed by Sophie (the protagonist) and turn into human beings who had been cursed. The rest of the movie was fairly unexpected in its twists and turns and I had to concentrate more than usual to understand what was going on.

Due to lack of time to eat at a proper restaurant I once again picked up lunch at the convenience store. I picked up what seemed like a salad at first, but then the lady at the counter heated it up and when I got it back it had some kind of broth (I think it was kimchi) and pieces of pasta floating in it. Not only was this my first time encountering instant pasta which can be cooked under a minute, but also I had never imagined eating pasta with kimchi broth. As if that wasn’t enough, I purchased coffee later in the afternoon, again at a convenience store. This was the kind of coffee which is sold in little pre-packaged cups and is usually cold. I bought a cafe latte. The coffee tasted great for something that had been packaged atleast 24 hours ago, but more than that the packaging fascinated me. Instead of having a single lid from which you directly sip the coffee, there were two lids, one made of plastic and another of hard paper. The one made of plastic didn’t seem to be removable. It had a little hole in it for a straw. I think the reason behind the double lid was that if the coffee spills out when you punch a hole with your straw on the second lid, it won’t spill outside the cup but will just get trapped in the space between the two lids. Apart from the two lids, I found it really cute (or kawahi as the Japanese would say) to see a straw neatly folded on the side and stuck to the cup. When I opened it, I found that the single straw was made of two different materials. I think they were both plastic but the lower part of the straw was transparent and the top half was white in color. The top half was slightly thicker than the lower half. I’m not sure behind the science of it, but knowing the Japanese, I’m sure there’s some very practical and logical reason behind it.
The food I eat here surprises me on a daily basis.

While walking from my classroom to the train station, I decided to take a different route and got lost in what seemed like an apartment complex. My non existent sense of direction does not help when I’m in a foreign country. Anyway, while walking through the apartment complex, I realized that it looked very much like any other apartment complex in a metropolitan. It could easily have been an apartment complex in a posh area of New Delhi. Such similarities that I often see between Tokyo, Singapore, New Delhi and other cities make me realize how the world is increasingly sharing culture and lifestyle. When I go to a new country, I often go expecting something completely radical and different. I rarely find a huge difference in the appearance of a place. Even the lifestyle is increasingly similar. But the difference lies in areas such as Akihabara of Tokyo, hawker centers of Singapore and the bazaars of New Delhi, which are representative of a sub culture or a unique trait of the country. They are the places where the locals go for a specific purpose and these places generally don’t exist everywhere in the world. My new plan is to abandon the usual sight seeing, since its anyway impossible to see everything and it usually doesn’t teach me more about the culture. I’m going to start being more picky about the places I go and choose places which I know will surprise (or shock) me.