September 6, 2001

i reached bangalore via kyoto, japan!

it was something i was looking forward to. a good book on the udyan express.

i read arthur golden’s memoirs of a geisha throughout yesterday, all 496 pages of it. it was like i was under the spell of its magical colours and style. in fact, i did not budge from my seat until i had read the entire book!

i had always found the geisha fascinating. perhaps because it was a subject i did not know much about, and something so beautiful i could not touch it. i had only an idea about its beauty when i had come across a few greeting cards that had geisha women painted on it. the cards were very old and yellowing, sent to my father by nobuko otomo, his japanese penfriend (that’s what they had then, penfriends. and now we have instant messengers!). another instance was when my colleague at my ex-company, chip magazine (now digit) had been to japan and got me a surprise gift. it was geisha art again, painted on a piece of square cloth and a fan to go with. i yearned to know more, but i did not even know they were called geisha.

but this book has answered all the questions i had. i was so busy reading it…i forgot to have the yummy theplas (spicy rotis) that amma had packed for me. my father was very apprehensive when he came to see me off — i was the only woman-traveller in the entire compartment. i wasnt uncomfortable though. there are men-strangers you can converse with and there are those you do not feel the need to. then there are those in whose company you become self-conscious, and then again there are some people who can travel together in silence and yet be comfortable. i could see that my co-passengers fit into the last category. now that i did not have to task of having to start a conversation with anyone, i decided to plunge in my novel, and plunge i did!

as you travel through the adventures and ‘mis’adventures of the geisha depicted beautifully in her own voice, the biggest surprise comes in the end (the footnotes), and that is what makes this novel unforgettable. it is amazing how an american author manages to capture the graceful japanese spirit and art form so flawlessly. read this interview with arthur golden for a better idea.

was it because of the book’s engrossing nature, or was it the character of nitta sayuri, i don’t know. but i had the strangest recollection of dreams last night. even as i awoke this morning, it took me a while to re-orient myself and realise that finally, i was in my favourite city, bangalore 🙂

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