After a 15-year absence, I returned to Japan in December 2020 and once again started living here. But, because of the covid-19 constraint, I am spending the majority of my days running, cooking, writing, and reading (sure not to say remote working) in the countryside of Japan. Their is nothing like enjoying four Seasons of Japan (and 72 Microseasons) in the natural setup of a small town Tsuyazaki (津屋崎町).
During this period, I've read three excellent books written by three remarkable women. I was able to immediately connect with them and learn a lot from their book. Even though I had previously lived in Tokyo, I had little knowledge of many things!
- Indian Migrants in Tokyo: A Study of Socio-Cultural, Religious, and Working Worlds (Routledge Studies on Asia in the World) – Megha Wadhwa
- Orienting: An Indian in Japan – by Pallavi Aiyar
- Diary of an Indian Girl in Spain: A Memoir - by Abha Malpani Naismith
All three books are about Indians living abroad, whether as expatriates, spouses, or vagabonding.
These three books are a chronicle of their memories of the places they visited, their observations about people and culture, and their experiences living abroad. Dr. Megha Wadhwa (Ph.D.) done an exclusive study of Indian migrants in Japan, focusing on Tokyo as the research geography. Pallavi Aiyar's book is about her memories, experiences, research, and reportage on Japan. Abha Malpani Naismith wrote a wonderful account of her memories of vagabonding in Spain.
These three books are highly recommended; they will undoubtedly broaden your worldview.
1. Indian Migrants in Tokyo: A Study of Socio-Cultural, Religious, and Working Worlds (Routledge Studies on Asia in the World) – Megha Wadhwa
This interesting book describes how an extended stay in Japan affects Indian migrants' sense of identity as they adjust to a country that is very different from their own?
Dr. Megha Wadhwa focuses on the Indian Diaspora in Tokyo, analyzing their lives there through extensive participant observation and a wealth of interviews.
Japan and India have long had ties, and one of the many things they have in common is the complexity of their cultures. At the same time, Japanese culture and customs are among the most distinct and complex in the world, making it difficult for foreigners to adapt.
Dr. Wadhwa investigates their lifestyles, fears, problems, relationships, and expectations.
Orienting: An Indian in Japan – by Pallavi Aiyar
How is Tokyo, a city of thirty million people, so safe that six-year-old children walk to school alone? Why don't Japanese cities have trashcans? Why are Ganesha idols hidden from public view in Japanese temples?
Orienting is an account of Japan by an Indian author Pallavi Aiyar that is as thought-provoking as it is charming.
Orienting, part travelogue, part reportage, answers questions that have perplexed the rest of the world with Aiyar's trademark humour.
Despite their shared civilizational history, the author investigates why Japan and India find it difficult to collaborate.
This is an Indian's account of Japan, addressing both the significant and the trivial, the quirky and the quotidian.
3. Diary of an Indian Girl in Spain: A Memoir - by Abha Malpani Naismith
Abha's journey from quitting her corporate job to moving to Spain to learn Spanish, dance salsa, and immerse herself in a new culture is detailed in the book. Her decision was complicated by the fact that she had never been to Spain, didn't speak the language, and didn't know anyone there. She was far too young to be feeling this way. She needed to make a change in her life.
She discusses how she became a travel blogger and taught English as a foreign language, allowing her to extend her planned six-month sabbatical to three years. It contains stories about the ups and downs of living in a foreign country, strange and funny cultural encounters, and random and unexpected learnings that come with living abroad.
A must-read for anyone looking to expand their horizons.