Her

There she was waiting. I could see in her profile that she was shy.

Once we started talking I could see in her a wise but fragile soul, as she had survived not one but many battles, cried defeats and survived ignominy. She smiled and laughed at my poor attempts at humor. But her laughter, although sweet, was a cover. A cover of what? I don’t know. But I could see in her eyes memories that still hunt happiness away.

Her soul was a pandora box that could mirror the deepest darkest corners of ourselves. And yet, she was fragile. And in more need of protection than anybody, I have met before or after her.

“I have to go,” she said

She just stood up and walk out the door. And for a brief moment, I felt as if a part of me had just left behind her.

Japanese business etiquette II: Business cards

Although, Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Our daily business interaction hasn’t changed much in the last decades.

What do you mean? You may ask

I mean that our ways to interact, to connect, to build relationships in business are still traditional. We still don’t rely on social media as most people, in other countries, do because we don’t trust it much yet.

We still go old school when it comes to “network” We go through the whole process. We make phone calls, send faxes (yes, you read that correctly) we make appointments, wait for appointment confirmation. Then on the day of the appointment, we dress formally, make our way to the meeting place, while being sure to arrive at least ten minutes before the agreed time, wait in the lobby room and greet our counterparts one these arrive.

And once we get inside the room where our meeting will be carried out then we finally exchange business cards.

There are also few steps for this simple and yet crucial moment.

1.- Hold your card with both hands. Do not simple handle the card. But offer it.

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2.- Then respectfully receive the business cards you are being offered.

3.- Once you get back to your seat, lay all the business cards you have received and read them.

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As you can see, business cards, physical business cards are a must, because business cards tell the person you are meeting that you are trustworthy. And if you translate your card even into simple Japanese, people would be grateful. And you’ll be showing your commitment and your willingness to go the extra mile, which will speak highly of you. Moreover, as Japanese people tend to be shy, your business card will be giving them “a hand” because they will make small talk based on the information you provide on them (your business cards).

In other words, business cards are still ,in this time of internet and social media, the best way to introduce yourself in Japan. And secure the beginning of a good business relationship with your possible clients and business partners.

With love

Walking along the gray streets, sometimes, I wonder how I survived all this time without you.

pablo-4You said goodbye one morning, and although it was not up to you to stay, or to leave. The fact is that you left, and your farewell changed my life. For better or worse nothing was the same.

I was never the same.

And although, I know, deep down in my heart, that you never wanted to leave me, yet again you did.

Ironically, none of us had a say in what happened, but it still hurts, even today. In every step I walk, in every moment I live, in every dream, I still hope to find you.

And I want to think that you remember me as well. I want to believe that this post will reach you. And, that you will read it, and we will be together in some parallel universe. In one way or another.

Somehow trying to explain the emptiness you left in me, I had come up with the crazy idea that when you left, you took a piece of my heart to later hide it somewhere in the world. And that’s why I have lived like a gypsy looking for that missing part of me. Like a cursed soul, whose only hope to survive is to follow the memory of you in this world.

I guess what I mean to say so inadequately in these lines is that I will always love you and that nothing could ever erase nor replace you, ojii-chan (ojii-chan means grandpa in Japanese)

What matters

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said that “what matters in life is not what happened to you but what we remember and how we remember it, in order to retell it.”

We all have happy memories that bring smiles to our faces, those memories like clear water that the sun kisses while saying goodbye in warm afternoons. But as life is a mix of emotions, our memories are inseparable from feelings, both joyful and painful.

I think that our lives are like collages, that blend happiness with hardships. A little bit of craziness, lust, curiosity, passion, a few grudges, some forgiveness and love. But not all collages are the same, and it’s their unique mixtures are what makes us, us.

I wouldn’t ever wish pain or hardship on anybody, even to people who don’t know nor like me, but if there’s something I’ve learnt, it is that even the most painful moments have a purpose. They make us appreciate the good times, help us improve as individuals, and, as much as we might hate to suffer, those memories and experiences can be put to good use. We can transform them into something good. Even if something devastating, a life changing event has happened to us, we can still have the power to turn things around.

We may feel those agonising memories as a burden, and that’s ok. But we can still turn them into something good. Sometimes, we can even feel those memories dragging us to the edge, but we can still turn that around. We can feel they hunt us, and yet we can still turn them around.

It’s not easy. It requires hard work. We have to try hard, sometimes even harder, but if we are willing to see at least a little bit of hope every morning, we will be able to get through the day. Was this what Gabriel García Márquez meant? That it doesn’t matter what happened to you but what you do with what happened what really matters?

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Columbus: It’s America silly billy

 

I truly don’t understand what is all this fuzz around Columbus day, seriously, I don’t understand it myself. I am latinoamerican, and I can’t understand how can we celebrate a man who thought had arrived in India. 

India..!! I mean, I love India but come on..! India is on the other side of the globe..!! The man was utterly lost, so lost, he never knew he had arrived in the American continent. And although some historians say he knew it just before he died I, personally, think he died as inattentive as he lived. He was a hopeless silly billy. 

Moreover, the man didn’t discover anything, I mean, as far as I know, there were people living there way before the smelly Colon arrived in the continent.

We can’t change history, what happened, unfortunately, happened, but we can change our perceptions of things for our own sake, because if we understand our wrongdoings then we can fix them.

And one of the worst misunderstandings we have carried on for way too long is honoring Christopher Columbus, who is nothing but a silly banana, who never knew where he indeed had arrived. I don’t know you but I, personally, don’t consider a laughingstock as such worthy of my respect 😉

 

Quechua: The bleeding wound

 

One of the biggest regrets of my life, if I had any, is not being able to learn Quechua while I was growing up. I was not taught Quechua, either at home or school. And living in the city made learning it, or even knowing about it, harder than it should have been. 

I do not speak it, and I know it’s because of my inability, but not for lack of trying. I even moved to Cusco so that I could hear it every day. But alas..! My brain doesn’t retain it. 

I know we can’t know it all. But still, every time I hear a song in Quechua something primal wakes up in my heart, and I hum to the melodies while listening to the unknown words that wake up a swirl of emotions in my latino heart. 

It is the same with all of them, William Luna with his “Niña chay” and “Valicha” make me think of lullabies because the lyrics are just soft and lovely. But lately, I have found a new song that makes me dance (Being bad at something does not prevent me from trying 😁) from Damaris “Tusuy Kusun,” which won her first place in “Viña del Mar”, which is the most prestigious music festival in Latin America. 

I will keep trying to improve my understanding of this ancestral language which not only accompanied the Incas but it is the vessel of our mystical culture. And which secrets are contained within it, still waiting for us to discover them.

The girl from Ipanema: walking down the street

 

 

A summer day I was walking down the street when I saw her. A woman so beautiful that could stand traffic, and yet so unaware of it (her beauty) and the effects she was causing on people. 

She was walking blindly to the desire looks she received from men, and the hateful looks women shot at her. 

And as she was walking, the slinky movements of her hips were hypnotizing pedestrians and drivers. I even saw a mesmerized couple of guys walking behind her. 

They were not harassing her. But it was obvious that the poor guys have lost their souls to the rhythm of her movements. 

I am just grateful there were no traffic accidents. 

And I couldn’t help but think of “the girl from Ipanema” and that some people are really gifted with beauty but as this beauty is nothing extraordinary for them, they do not hold themselves with pride or arrogance. As ironic as that might be. 
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Lion cafe: Shibuya’s music box

Mondays are not my favourite day of the week, I loathe them. They (the Mondays) fall on me like a curse from the Gods. And that’s why I decided to do something nice for myself and take me out for a nice cup of coffee on Monday evening.

But where? I thought to my myself and then the answer presented itself.

I have been listening for years people talk about this “great place” where you can listen to classical music all day, “this cafe” somewhere hidden in the heart of Shibuya.

So, I made it my task to find it.

And guess what? A with a little help from my friends, I found it, and I felt as if Shibuya were confiding me a secret.

Lion cafe is not your typical cafe, it is something else, it is a house forgotten by time, a sanctuary of peace, or perhaps a gigantic music box.

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Lion cafe’s classical music contrasts with the catchy pop melodies we hear all over Shibuya. Once you enter Lion cafe, it takes you a while to desintoxícate yourself from it. But then your senses give in, your eyes adapt to the soft light, and your body relaxes.

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And you start wondering how can you live in the turmoil and pandemonium of modernity. Problems seem so far away, so distant and blurry. You are at peace here, and this Monday becomes a fantastic day.

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#DACA: Broken dreams, broken economy

#DACA is a program started by President Obama, in which people who arrived illegally in the United States as children can work and thrive, in other words, feel at home in their home.

#DACA recipients do not know any other country than the United States of America, why then take away their rights? When they, economically, generate millions of dollars. They buy homes, own business creating in this way jobs Americans say immigrants steal from them.

 

Without going into sentimentalisms ending #DACA is a terrible business move.

Why is it a bad business move?

Well, when 800,000 thriving young,  people stop paying taxes, their business taken, and with them, the jobs they created, then it would, logically, have an enormous impact on the economy. Without counting that according to #CNN deporting #DACA recipients “would cost American economy 400 billion dollars” what a “brilliant businessman” you are, Mr. Trump. 

 Of course, Mr. Trump is not a brilliant businessman, nobody in their right mind would consider anything but a white supremacist, whose narrowed views are affecting millions of hard working people.

#DACA is not only a direct attack on the weakest members of society but a tremendous economic mistake.

But I guess, it is all about making America great again, isn’t it?

Just say it: Don’t worry about your accent

 

I always think that worrying about our accents when we are learning languages, it is indeed a waste of time, which will only extend and delay our learning process unnecessarily.
At the beginning, we just need to practice, talk to yourself in front of the mirror, talk to yourself while you are jogging. In other words, talk as there was no tomorrow.

I remember preparing for my first cultural exchange in the States, in the very same way, I would go for a run and start asking questions to myself and answer them as best as I could. I am very inquisitive, you know? 🤓

I know there are many books out there that advise the opposite of what I am saying here, that’s why you might probably be doubting this little post. Fair enough.

But, I am sure you have seen parents teaching their cute little  babies to talk. Do they focus on the babies’ accents? Or do they focus on making the baby talk?

As you could see in that little example, to learn a language, the first thing we have to do is to produce language. As our brains assimilate the new language, we will naturally go into the second stage, which is brushing and polishing not only our pronunciation but also vocabulary.

So in other words, Just say it 😁

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