It has been tough to get myself to photograph the past few days after what has been going on in the rest of Japan. My mind has been full of images of destruction, and of the sights and sounds of the homeless, and their tears and memories about things lost including loved ones. Living in Japan, one gets used to the concept of earthquakes and after the earthquake in Kobe, there was a certain level of preparation, but then how does one prepare for a tsunami which reached a height of 30m and which played with huge ships like lego blocks? Living in the modern age, I watched “live” as thousands of unaware bystanders were swept away in a matter of minutes and homes crumbled like matchsticks. There was no chance for the ones who were caught in the fury of this record breaking disaster.
A few hundred kilometers away, my life in Tokyo also changed, and along with the 35+million other locals, I tried to adjust to the wave of 150+ earthquake aftershocks and the sea of humanity that was left without transportation and electricity, crippling this ultra-modern city. One could overcome the lack of toilet paper and food and bottled water in the stores, and one could overcome the lack of heat at night but it was difficult to face a danger which one could not see or feel. As thousands of foreigners left Tokyo due to the radiation scare, I went through many questions in my own mind and tried to answer what Tokyo and Japan meant to me and in the end, the choice was simple – this was home and I would stay. I have travelled over 50 countries, lived in 20+ cities but had never thought about that question. As I reflected back, I remembered that a long time ago, I had seen an Argentinian movie which had taught me that “home was a place which one did not want to leave” no matter how long one had lived there or how terrible it was.
I am lucky that I work in a company that “helps all people live healthy lives” and it was easy for me to find a way to start contributing. As I look around me and watch how others are supporting, I have full confidence that Japan will emerge from this crisis. It will not be easy and will take a while, but then this is a country of people who understand the word “self sacrifice”. Discipline and dedication were the pillars behind the rise of modern Japan and I am happy to see that success did not weaken the moral foundation.
Today, Cherry Blossoms start to bloom and bring hope that better days are around the corner.
I want to thank all the people who have written to me and enquired about the safety of my family. Your thoughts, prayers, and warm wishes have been a big source of comfort and strength. Thank you and God Bless You.