Thursday, 13 March 2014

Guest Post - The best days of my life! by Ruchira Shukla


I don't know how to welcome Ruchira Shukla to my blog. If I drum roll her in, I might disturb the elegant sobriety that I associate with her person. If I go hyperbolic with adjectives, it will fail to suit the understated beauty that her blog stands for. So, I introduce her to you as a friend I found recently, as a woman who I admire for more reasons than one and as a writer whose writings I look up to as calm in stormy waters. 

Ruchira's stream of thoughts flow into Nirjharini, a blog she believes she cannot do justice to (thanks to her job) but a blog which does justice to her readers' lust for quality writing, post-after-post. Be it quirky travelogues or musings dipped in philosophy, Haikus or a turning back into history, the blog carries a unique character of its own. Like an exotic place where she back-packed solo, or the adrak chai she found in a shanty in a place we know only as a dot-on-the-map, but a place where she found herself. 

And I needed her to be my lucky mascot. To initiate on my blog a section on travel writing, for I could think of no one better - in craft or as a friend - to cut the shubh ribbon for me. She sent me a post this morning called 'The best days of my life!

Here it is then ... 
----------------

The best days of my life! 

I have spent many happy years in the Land of the Rising Sun and have lived in almost all its major cities, but the place that remains the closest to my heart is a quaint little city called Kobe. 

Kobe lies on the southernmost tip of Japan. It’s almost at the other end from Tokyo, but what separates the two cities is not only the physical distance but also their two totally different characters. Tokyo is all about big corporates, high rises and technology. Kobe on the other hand is quiet, laid back with an old world charm.  If we were to assume that these two cities are people, Tokyo to me would be an aggressive Businessman but Kobe would be a graceful and elegant lady dressed in a Kimono.

The time that I spent there was perfect in all aspects. I loved my job, I had great friends and most importantly I was bang in the middle of the two things I loved the most - History and Natural Beauty. There was not a single cloud to mar my bright blue sky!

Kobe is just an hour away from two of the greatest tourist spots in Japan - Kyoto and Nara. Anyone with even a remote interest in Shinto shrines and Zen simply has to visit these places. At the core of Shintoism lies the belief that God as well as inner peace can only be found in nature and that is why the ancient monks laid a great emphasis on building their shrines amongst spectacular nature beauty. Most of the shrines are either set deep in the woods or high up in the mountains.


I made many pilgrimages to these shrines over the year. They had their own uniqueness, their own
perspective to offer in each season.

In spring, when the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, they seemed to promise hope and new beginnings. Autumn, inspite of all its palette of colors, made the shrines look melancholic and they seemed to be teaching us about the impermanence of things. In winter, when they were covered with snow, they seemed to signify austerity and solitude.



But I didn’t always have to travel out of the city to enjoy nature. Kobe is wedged between the hills on one side and the sea on the other. My corner apartment on the 14th floor had huge glass windows. Although it was scary when the windows rattled during earthquakes or when the wind and rain lashed at them during the typhoon season, I didn’t mind because they offered me spectacular views.

On two sides they looked out on the hills. During the cherry blossom season, it seemed as if soft pink and white clouds had floated down to cover the hills.  In autumn the trees would be rust and red and yellow, as if the hills were on fire. Summer meant looking out of the window at a carpet of blue and purple hydrangeas and irises.

The third side looked out to the sea and in summer if the day was clear, I could even see yachts floating on the shimmering waters. Even when I had a chance to exchange my small apartment for a bigger one, I didn’t simply because I so loved the view I saw out of my windows!

Even going to work was a delight. The 30 minutes in the train never felt cumbersome because the monotony of the houses and buildings was broken by fields full of Hydrangea flowers that seemed to grow in such abundance in Kobe.


Work hours were long and often stretched into weekends but who would mind staying late when we just had to lift our heads from our laptops, and look out of the window at this!


Kobe was my home for almost two years. I haven’t been there for a long time now, but the years that I spent there were truly the best years of my life!


48 comments:

  1. Ruchira, welcome to this wonderful blog of Sakshi's. Sakshi - Your intro to Ruchira and her writing describes exactly what a lot of us think about her. Her travelogues (not even sure if I can say that!) are just brilliant and this one is no exception. Kobe sounds absolutely lovely :) Japan's a place I've always wanted to visit. Hopefully some day :) You got the best person to cut the "ribbon" for your travel section Saks. Looking forwards to many more brilliant, breath-taking travel posts here and of course on Ruchira's blog too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sid ! I too look forwards to reading Sakshi’s travelogues !
      Japan is really very enchanting and I do hope you get to visit it some day !

      Delete
  2. Oooh, loved the flowers in the photos. The shrines are so exotic looking. Ruchira, you will get me to don my travel shoes one day. And Sakshi, wonderful choice for a guest post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing would please me more than getting you to don your travel shoes Ritu !

      Delete
  3. Such beauty...and when someone describes quaint beauty I am transported to the city I spent my childhood in and those Hydrangea blooms are synonymous to that place as well. The pictures are lovely Ruchira and the description of Kobe too....it does look like my kind of town :) Thanks for the lovely travelogue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember seeing Hydrangea in Palampur. I think you would love Kobe Kajal, anybody who is a mountain person would !

      Delete
  4. Yachts on shimmering water! What a view.
    Lovely introduction Sakshi and so good to see Ruch here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was lucky to get such a spectacular view form my window. And Yes,Sakshi has been very kind to me in her introduction !

      Delete
  5. what a trip it was... serene and scenic ..Loved the way you made it come to life..I could almost look out of my office window and see things that are not there ..Loved the description

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Shiva ! I am glad you liked the post !

      Delete
  6. Truly a wonderful way to cut the ribbon Sakshi! :)
    And Ruchira, those descriptions opened a new way to interpret nature's beauty :) esp. loved this line *During the cherry blossom season, it seemed as if soft pink and white clouds had floated down to cover the hills.*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Seeta. I love Nature and I was lucky to witness its beauty in so many forms in Kobe !

      Delete
  7. Lovely intro Sakshi...her writings are such
    ..like those serene moments that one yearns for in this chaotic busy lives. Ruchira an enchanting post. Loved the descriptions n the photos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aditi, Thank you so very much !

      Delete
  8. Very 'pretty' and visual post, this! I could sense the joy that you must have felt living in such a scenic city. Here's hoping that you will get another opportunity sometime soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rickie, I'll say Amen to that ! Thank so much for reading !

      Delete
  9. Spectacular! I wish I had more money so I could travel to more places and not just on vacation but live there and experience every day life. Japan seems so fascinating going by all the fond memories it invokes in you. Kobe must have been delightful! Look at those pics! Nice to see a collaboration between you and Sakshi. It made for a delightful post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachna, small trips are always good but living for a few years in a foreign country is an experience in itself. Kobe was indeed delightful. Thanks for reading !

      Delete
  10. Oh my! The pictures are good enough to look like paintings on canvas! Such a beautiful post! Congratulations Sakshi to have kicked off a new section on your blog, and I agree, no one could have done more justice than Ruchira! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Gauri. Thanks for reading !

      Delete
  11. A very well written post..Ruchira..And Sakshi you found the apt person to cut the ribbon..
    Lovely read...

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you so much Sakshi for giving me an opportunity to write for your blog. ! And thank you for such a lovely introduction. I re-read it a couple of times just so I could preen a bit :-)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ruchira is all that and much more Sakshi. I also love to read her posts for the tranquility. Japan for me is just a blip as of now, by what i have seen in movies. Your post Ruchira, has made me wonder about it. The place covered in autumn leaves looks so wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much ! Autumn in Japan is very beautiful. Specially if one visits the temple towns at that time !

      Delete
  14. This is so beautiful! How I wish to visit it someday after reading this post! I think I've fallen in love with the colours of the place...Thanks for sharing..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'fallen in love with the colors of the place' - Only a traveler could have said this Naba ! You must visit Japan .. I have a feeling you would love it !

      Delete
  15. Wow, now that is the way to start travel writing on a blog !!! Although I have heard a lot about the quieter side of Japan and seen some really old pictures as well, courtesy the Sanyo calendars that my dad used to get back in the 80s, the pictures that Ruchira has put up coupled with her simple, subtle post which clearly conveys the beauty that Kobe has to offer just took this post to yet another level. Maybe someone should share this post with Tourism Japan and they ll just go ahead and make Ruchira their online brand ambassador or something like that ....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Online Ambassador for Japan .. Now that is some thought Jairam ! Did the Sanyo Calenders have Mt Fuji on them ? They usually did as far as I remember. Thanks for reading !

      Delete
  16. What a beautiful account.My father's uncle is settled in Kobe since 1970.Though the family has diversified the business to U.S. he himself and one of his son continue to live here only.Your description of the place helps me understand their love for this place so ethereal!Keeping Oshinawa as a base

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kobe does have a sizable Punjabi - Sikh population. I remember visiting the Gurudwara pretty often. It was on a beautiful hilltop. Perhaps you should take this opportunity to visit Kobe !

      Delete
  17. beautiful introduction and a beautiful account ... very refreshing .. and as I went through the post I visualized the view from ruchira's room, the change of seasons and the beautiful pictures aided that..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you simple Girl. I am so glad you enjoyed reading this ! And Yes Sakshi has been very kind in her intro !

      Delete
  18. That was a perfect intro!! I have the same picture of Ruchira after having read her blog :)
    The riot of colors that the trees and flowers give looks so beautiful. And what a sight to look at while at work!
    I personally feel that we should be blessed to be able to live in such surroundings and equally blessed to know its worth and enjoy it.
    I want to visit Japan someday..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Arthy I was blessed to have spent my time in such a place. Thanks for reading !

      Delete
  19. Ah, Ruch.....I re-read the Kimono reference, stopped a while by the sea and took in the blossoms of the season. Such a visual post. You create wonderful imagery with your words. A travelogue needs to be able to do that for the readers, take them along on that journey. And you, my dear, are wonderfully adept in that department. Loved reading this. It also makes me wonder, why don't you do this more often.

    But all said and done, fabulously done Ruchira. Sakshi, a very smart choice indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Thank you BlogwatiG. I am so glad you enjoyed reading it !

      Delete
  20. That's indeed a beautiful place. Having read many posts by Ruchira on Japan on her blog, I really hope I can visit the country someday. Loved the post.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you so much for reading. You must visit Japan. It is a beautiful country.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The comparison between the two cities and the way she described them as the Businessman and the Kimono, right there I was totally engrossed. Awesome free flowing writing. Ruchira I have a question for you. When you type out your post do you stop and think or it just flows non stop? I feel the answer is the later do let me know if I am right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Athenas Take. I am so glad you like the post. My posts, specially the travel posts are usually free flow writing. :-P

      Delete
  23. Welcome and refreshing blog. Thanks Sakshi to introduce Ruchi here :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Lovely post, loved all the description of carpets of blue, and clouds of link and white, and I so agree with finding peace with nature...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much IHM. I turn towards nature to find peace !

      Delete
  25. Japan brings out the best in you, Ruchira. Every time you write about your experiences there, I sense tranquility and contentment.

    ReplyDelete
  26. That sounds like a beautiful place. The husband has been to Japan and is all praises about the simplicity of people, their hard work and the rich landscape. Someday, I will. For now, enjoyed this post and the pictures even more. :-)

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...