Sashaying With Sushi

Everyday, Mental Health, Musings / Saturday, April 15th, 2023

Many years ago, in 2016, I went on a solo trip to Japan. 

The country was everything I had imagined it to be – a bustle of contradictions and sweeping contrasts. 

It was also, expectedly, expensive. And being a vegetarian in Japan was even more expensive. There were two ways I could get vegetarian food in Japan: go to pricey vegan restaurants or find monasteries or temples. I tried one vegan restaurant before realizing I could never afford to go to these restaurants three times a day. In Tokyo, finding a temple was a task – I was stumbling through its gigantic Metro and local trains –  and the city was too huge to trek in search of one temple. 

And it was then that I came across this post online. “The best and cheapest place to get vegetarian food in Japan is a sushi restaurant.”

A sushi restaurant? It seemed a crazy idea. 

But I was hungry and thought I would give it a go. And that original poster was right. I got the best vegetarian food in Japan in a sushi restaurant. In Japan, in the local sushi restaurants, you sit around a table with the chef in front and point at what you would like, and he rolls it up for you. Sort of like a Subway restaurant, I guess. The simplicity of it was magical. Pick. Point. Point. Pick. And eat. Heaven.

I was reminded of those times now 7 years later, when I tried a sushi restaurant today in Bangalore. Some of my Saturdays these days are spent with the wonderful folks at Star Health Insurance, going through documents and receipts and submitting claim forms for my mom’s hospitalization. It’s a drill I have sadly become familiar with these last three months, so much so that the woman there knows me by name now. 

Earlier, I would have been irritated that this is what my Saturday is. Not some raving party. (Not that I go to raving parties). Not a movie. Not meeting friends or lovers (Not that I have lovers ;-)). I would have grumbled and felt suffocated. But 30+ sessions of therapy can give you a lot of amazing insights. And I remember my therapist always asking me with that winsome smile of hers, “So, what can you do about it?”

And I realize that I can do absolutely nothing. I have to go to the insurance company if I need to get the money. I have only Saturdays to do this. I can avoid it, I can procrastinate, but that task will stay there, waiting for me to finish. So, I decided, I might as well make a day out of it. I spend a few hours finishing up the insurance work, and then, I find a good restaurant or two, a nice cafe to while some time away and read or people-watch. 

It’s funny the way the mind works. When faced with a task it hates, it will focus only on the hated task. But give it something to anticipate too after the task, and the mind quickly switches to that anticipatory joy. 

Which is how I ambled around in Bangalore today. 

There was the sushi restaurant – pumpkin maki rolls, crisp and tender all at once. A bowl of Korean ramen, the eggy noodles floating with the pok choy. Ice tumbling on Diet Coke. Reading Katya Balen’s luminous words. Suddenly, my day’s worries floated into the background. They didn’t disappear. But they obediently went to the room at the back, and I breathed in the aroma of the noodles, thinking of Japan, a time that seems almost unreal. A time when I felt lost, and now, a time when I feel I have used that lostness to find myself again. 

Are you with me still?

Let’s pay the bill, and let’s walk out, shall we? Just down the road to an Italian gelato ice cream shop. The tiny place is crowded, and I feel immediately choked. I feel claustrophobic and struggling to breathe, I go outside.

I take my scoop of watermelon and blueberry cheesecake ice cream out and sit under a hazy Bangalore sun, watching the traffic and breathing into this moment. Into this heaviness. A few other people take my lead and sit along with me, and we form a curious crowd, scooping away at our ice creams while people around us pass by busily. 

Walk a bit more, past the Smoor bakery, where I briefly pause, wondering if I should have their delectable macaroons, but Third Wave Coffee beckons to me. I order a matcha tea in honor of my Japan Day today and sit next to another girl, propping myself against the glass exteriors of the cafe just like her. She’s reading William Dalrymple. I read Balen’s ‘October October.’ It’s hot, the sun beating against the glass, but we are content to sip on our teas and read. Who thought strangers who never spoke a word could be so comfortable?

I read. And read. And watch in astonishment as I see that the popular Kannada actor Samyukta Hornad, who MyndStories is interviewing on Monday for a podcast, is sitting here in the cafe. I had worked with her once as an anchor when she wasn’t an actor with a million followers. Of all the places, after almost 10 years, she surfaces here the day before her podcast shoot – and I shake my head at the Universe and its synchronicities. 

Sip a bit more of that tea. Clunk that ice. And then, head out. Say goodbye to my silent reading partner.

Drive past ice apple carts. Jackfruits. Mangoes. Melons. 

Drive past them all, seeing the colors, and find that the heaviness is a bit lighter. And be grateful that you have these moments, too, despite everything. 

What can you do about your life? We can only find joy where we can. We can rest our weary selves in a cloud. In a burst of sunshine. And also lean into the clouds, hoping that they will pass.

May you find lightness today.

Love and light to you,


6 Replies to “Sashaying With Sushi”

  1. Such an enjoyable afternoon. Yes there are always bursts of sunshine (if we care to look for them), amidst the dreary clouds.

  2. What a feast today. I love the sound of all those rolls. And I can’t believe Japan was all those years ago. The way we talk about it seems like yesterday.

    May you have more Japanese weekends of this sort….

      1. Didn’t you already have it? 🤔🤔Knowing you, it might be there in your cute little library hidden on one of the shelves 🤭 But anyway, since I’m the official book buyer I will buy.

        Orrrrr I have a better idea – why not ask your Mumbai reader? 😀They might be more than happy to buy for you😎

        1. I DON’T HAVE IT. I HAVEN’T READ IT! Pah. Since you are so stuffy, I think my Mumbai reader is a better bet to buy. I need more book suppliers. Perhaps, I can even ask for an ice cream?

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