It is a country of contrasts. The poor are very poor, and the rich getting very much richer.
Dress varies from state to state, as does dialect and languages. The food is many and varied, from spicy to sweet and sour.
It is my country of birth. Every time I go back for a visit, the smells and sounds accost me, and a feeling of nostalgia fills me. I love visiting, and seeing my late maternal grandmother’s old house, and visiting relatives that I have there.
It is the land of mysteries untold – of the Vedas, and untold numbers of ancient stories.
I feel proud to have such a heritage, even though I don’t fully understand the most of it, not having had the chance to grow up with it – I left with my parents when I was 2 years old.
I still feel that I carry a part of it with me – and always will. I feel that I have the best of both worlds, being an Indian Australian – and an early childhood spent growing up in Kenya, Africa. I feel very lucky indeed.
I recently went on a trip to Japan. The places we covered were Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Hiroshima and Kyoto.
It was a wonderful trip, in many ways. The group that I went in was welcoming and friendly. We walked a lot, and used the trains (bullet and otherwise) and public transport. I was a bit scared whether I would be able to keep up with the walking and travelling, but it was fine.
The cherry blossoms were glorious. I felt lucky that I was able to be there in Spring when they bloom.
There was one place that left a lasting impression on me – that was Hiroshima. There was a museum in front of a monument called the Atomic Bomb Dome (ABD). The ABD, which was a commercial building when Hiroshima was bombed in 1945, during the second world war, has been left in its ruined state as a warning to the world. Alongside it is the Peace Park.
The Japanese people are very beautiful and kind – but the atom bomb is always at the back of the mind. Perhaps ashamed of the past, they strive to go out of their way, but truly feel it from the heart. I almost felt ashamed myself, of the past.
For me, Hiroshima had been a place of dread from the history books. Actually visiting there, other than fearing that the nuclear radiation was still active, seemed to have eased my soul. I hope and believe with all my heart that the wrongs of the past remind us of what we must not do in order to make this world fair and just for all. A timely reminder of a shameful past that we must allow to determine a glorious and shining future for all.