“Namaskara!” greets the Japanese woman in her purple silk Kimono.
“Konnicchiwa!” greets the Indian in a grey t-shirt.
This was the scene at the entrance of the Jnana Jyothi Auditorium on Sunday, the 21st of February, where the 12th edition of Japan Habba was taking place.
Almost a month ago, they were calling in for volunteers. I’d never been to Japan Habba and it was one of the top “things to do” in mine and Vaishnavi’s list. So I decided to volunteer and I filled up the form and told all my friends to do so.
I was a little apprehensive at first. I’d never met anyone before. All my friends gloriously failed to fill the form on time. I only knew two of them: my juniors from college. But then, on the day we met first, I was just so, so happy. There were anime fans all around me and that was one of the common things among us. These people were different. Many of them had been to Japan Habba before, and wanted to work behind the scenes. And those like me, wanted to work behind the scenes for my first Japan Habba.
So, things were set as to who worked where and under whom. I was working in the Gallery under “Oe-San”. We were supposed to come in on Saturday, the 20th, and make arrangements.
Saturday was so good. I and three of my juniors left at 12:30 and failed to reach on time. We were supposed to be there at 1 PM but got lost. We walked almost a kilometer back to the place in the hot, sweltering sun. When we finally reached the place, what did we do?
All. Day. Long.
“Chochin-Guiding light” was the theme of this year’s edition. We all got into groups of people working on similar parts of the Chochin. They came in flat packs and we had to expand them, fix the frame, cut black strips of paper and and stick them in rings on top and bottom, and then stick the stickers on them. We made about 50 small ones, 50 big ones for decorations only. And another 200 small ones for sale.
After all the hard work, we left the place at 7 to go to Majestic (AKA KBS). On the way, I remembered there was a Vada Pav place near by, where I had my first vada pav with Smriti and the five of us walking to Majestic stopped by and ate Vada Pavs and while they had nice choco-vanilla softy cone, I settled for a glass of cane juice near by. I went home at 9PM that night.
We were strictly told to be at the auditorium at 8 AM the next day.
On a Sunday.
So, sacrificing my sleep and my parents’ sleep, I managed to reach there by 8:30. As soon as I went there, I got coupons for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I found some people and went with them for breakfast. Then we got on with our work.
I was put into books sales on Sunday. Normally, this would’ve excited me, but the books were all in Japanese. As I helped a few Japanese women arrange them, I felt a little out of place. I didn’t speak Japanese, except for Konnicchiwa and Arigatou. A fellow volunteer helped me understand the Japanese woman who trying to explain the method of pricing. Luckily, their actions spoke for themselves and I understood things a lot faster.
Time flitted by and the kimono trying stall closed at 12, so once I learned that my sister will be late (we both wanted to wear them together), Samudyatha (she’d come to see it; Prince also had come. It was probably because I had threatened them) and I went at 11:30 only to learn that it had closed already.
Devastated, she and I went over to the calligraphy station, where she took photos of me near the huge charts. A little later, Prince and DJ joined us and I showed them around a bit and then got back to my work, when I greeted my parents at the door. I took another break and showed them around and made them buy me expensive anime stuff and then sent them on their way.
As the day came to a close, we learnt that more than 2000 people had come to Japan Habba! It was such a huge success!
After all the performances and all the visitors had left, we took photos, posing in weird ways and screaming and laughing. We took down the chochins and took them all home. I also found a few orange ones and took them home too. Some of them even decorated their flats with their chochins and it looked beautiful :’)
This was one of the best weekends ever. Highly productive, highly energetic.
A more detailed post on what kind of stalls were there and what I bought is coming soon!