Few months ago, I chanced upon a Facebook post addressed to the PM from our young overseas workers in Japan. The letter mainly sheds light on their struggles and aspirations of the so-called developed country. It also remarks on the challenges of having to keep up with the exorbitant living standard, monthly bills, daily expenses and fees, and reimbursement that are due back home.

There is no denying whatever has been detailed in the piece is unfeigned. After all, it is the reality check that must be conveyed to everyone willing to work here and suffer the same fate. I suppose it must be consistent in every economically stable country that life in the fast lane is more than the everyday photos we see on Facebook. Many off-screen stories remain buried.

Lets get straight to the core that this article doesn’t take umbrage in the opinions shared by our compatriots.

I am a second year postgraduate student in Japan. I don’t moonlight as my time is mostly consumed in the lab. But, I have some friends who had landed here through overseas employment agency. Whenever time allows, we catch up on weekends to talk a blue streak about our own experiences here. Of working, studying and living in a place that is so different from ours. All of us agree to one thing- “there is no time to stand and stare.”Yet, we take pride in the fact that no matter how busy life keeps moving, there is always a moment to freeze and create a little Bhutan to remain firm with our roots.

While I find it realistic that our young people had broached (Facebook post) several points, concomitantly it’s also high time we give in our second thoughts and go hell-bent. How far are we going to stretch in life lodging complains? How far should we cocoon in our comfort zone? Isn’t it time we accept our own choices, keep embracing the challenges, sharpen our grit and be the game changer?

Honestly, it would not be too much to say we are plain sailing folks. We take things for granted, wait for the ball to drop, look for a chance event to become affluent overnight and get lost in fairy tale trance. This is why it breeds inextricable complacency in us.

Here, be it in schools, universities or any other work place, there are absolutely no grounds for complacency. They have toughened up to take on every impediment and attuned to what we often relish to quote- “life is unfair”.

On the more, their success story was not conceived overnight. Not even a year or two. Neither it’s because of few men’s quest to transform this great nation. Centuries of ceaseless hard-work coalesced with seamless recipes like commitment, positive attitude, diligence, planning goals and so on, had gone into placing them on their present pedestal. Their indomitable disposition is the testament to rest of us that we can as well stand tall and bask in the glory of our labour.

What leaves us behind the race despite not being any lesser?

It seems plausible the dearth of aforesaid recipes leave us quite laid-back in our pursuit somehow. Whatsoever, our pace has begun to pick up double fold. We are writing our own success stories progressively. So, at this juncture the one and only thing we must devote vigorously is the will to brave with all our might. Otherwise, we are already too good to join the biggies.

I have been a witness to my lab members who at times break down regardless of fighting with their champion spirits. Should they feel like crying, they do so. But it doesn’t finish there. They give a lethal comeback. That is where I have discovered the Japanese secret come in handy. The line seems to be very distinct at this point of time.

My early days were not fairy tales either. I have had my incessant rounds of frustrations, complains and grievances. On several occasions, it had me questioned seriously if coming to Japan, as a postgraduate student, was really my calling. Even now, I admit it candidly that I tussle a lot. But today I have learned to tussle with Japanese recipes, and since I know it’s there to wrought me into any finest forms, the way ahead looks clear of odds.

One of my professors shuttles between lab and her apartment for about 90 miles every weekdays on a bullet train. This is daunting especially when one has family obligations and huge duties to perform at the university. I find it astounding she does it with so much grace that there is perfect harmony. So, every time it exhausts me to travel 10-15 minutes by bicycle from home to lab, I become guilt ridden thinking of my Prof, who even with vast arrays of responsibilities manages to make smooth transitions between professional and personal life. I find myself little embarrassed to play truant.

My hexagenerian house owner, for example, is always up by the break of dawn for her day’s chore. I can see the couples are sufficiently well established with substantial income coming from the monthly rent and post retirement benefits. And by her age, back home, it would be a good respite in her life. But she is unstoppable in her works. Ever lively, she just can’t be underrated because of her old age. Here again, what a clean and neat way of ridding excessive feeling of smugness.

If at the prime of our lives, we take refuge in dodging away from the bitter truth of modern times, where’s the sense in that?

And if there is one great take away lesson I’ve learned the hard way, it must be this- there is no free lunch in life.


Contributed by 

Pelden Nima

Laboratory of Animal Reproduction

Graduate School of Bio-agricultural Sciences

Nagoya University