Living with heavy heart in Bangalore

The occasion was the sixth Japan Habba, the annual event of the Indo-Japan Cultural Exchange Programme, celebrated on February 20, 2011.

Satoshi Hata, a teacher of the Japanese language at Bangalore University (BU), was the man behind the event and was instrumental in drawing the Japanese expatriates together. But, now the people have been saddened by one of the most “extraordinary” tsunamis that struck their beloved country.

Satoshi Hata and his wife Yaeko had spent much of Friday at a church, praying for their relatives back home. Hata is from Chiba, 40 km east of Tokyo. His hometown has been hit but his in-laws are safe.

The calamity back home, however, has not unnerved Hata. He reports to work. “We are praying for the well-being of our fellow countrymen. Let’s hope the disaster recedes,” Hata told Deccan Herald. Hata was at the university when he came to know of the calamity. He called his wife who was frantically calling her sister in Chiba.

The Japanese professor came to Bangalore in August 2004. The Hatas have seen tsunamis and earthquakes strike Japan. “But this one is very extraordinary, far more serious than the one that struck Osaka in 1995,” he said. They did anticipate the tragedy but certainly not on such a large scale. Their light of hope, however, is that evacuation drills are conducted frequently and other safety measures have been in place.

Till Friday, the Hatas were very contented with the success of the Japan Habba. “It’s a lovely idea to introduce the art and culture of the two countries. It helps bridge the cultural divide,” he says. The event marked the “fusion” of two cultures, with Japanese expatriates performing Indian dance forms and singing Kannada songs.

Tomoko Matsuda, a housewife from Osaka, performed Bharatanatyam. “She looked determined to master the dance form,” Hata says. Besides, Takubo, Hamada, both employed with Toyota Kirloskar Motors, regaled the audience with their rendition of songs of “namma” Kannada films.

But they have little to rejoice now. The catastrophe has saddened them. Their patriotism keeps them afloat.

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