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Japan Diaries 3

Pink Neckties and YouTube

The latest fad on the streets of Tokyo, at least the most obvious that I’ve noticed, seem to be pink neckties. Especially among younger men. The only ones who seem to be wearing the more traditional types of ties are the older lot. Most, if not all, the young men that I’ve noticed wearing ties all sport pink ones in different styles and designs. It is the rare young man who sports a necktie that is not pink. Being the young man that I am, and as fashionable (ahem!) as the next young man, my wife has already gone ahead and bought a pink necktie for me. And a pink shirt to go with it. Though I still haven’t gathered the courage to wear them, I await some special occasion when I can wear my new ensemble. I’ve often thought of what reaction I would get if I wore them to office. I can imagine my colleagues doing double takes. A vision of some of the 300 plus daily visa seekers dying of laughter also come to mind.

Fortunately, I’ve not yet seen anyone wearing a pink pant. But then maybe that’s only because we still haven’t been to Harajuku, an area around Tokyo’s Harajuku Station, 15/20 minutes on the Metro from our apartment, which is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles. Other than this, the young men of Tokyo also seem to be going back to the sixties for inspiration, as far as fashion goes. I have seen quite a few young men dressed in what to me most closely resembles the Beatles during their younger days – tight pants (cut a little high so that the socks are easily visible), black pointy shoes and jackets/coats with thin lapels. In short, the way the Beatles dressed when they first toured the US of A back in 1964 and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. Perhaps, having gone through the whole gamut of fashion styles, the tide is now turning back to the Sixties. I can only hope music follows the trend and we get back to the days of real music, not the electronic and keyboard-driven music that now drives the industry. With T-Melody (those guys from the YZTP ‘Sweet December Concert’ show) about to release their album (of which I’ve read rave reviews), I can only hope that our singers and musicians follow their lead and we get to hear real, original music again.

Talking of music, its been more than a month since I packed my collection of cassettes and CDs along with our music system. Though they’ve all arrived safely now, they remain in their cartons, awaiting the day we shift from our present abode which we hope will be soon. So, except for the few minutes that I bully my kids into letting me use the laptop (one of the rare privileges of being the ‘man of the house’, at least in name) to listen to the Mizo and Hmar songs on YouTube or the few songs I managed to load to ‘My Music’ on the computer, it seems like forever since I listened to any song. The tinny music that I try my best to coax out of our laptop’s tiny speakers are just unable to satiate this hunger for the real thing. But in the process I’ve re-discovered many oldies that I’ve almost forgotten. In fact, I have listened and seen on video for the first time many of the classics that I grew up listening from the late 60s and early 70s – on YouTube. Songs like ‘Green, green grass of home’ by Tom Jones (still my favourite version), many of the Jim Reeves classics and others – all on video.

Despite the number of years that I’ve been in cyberspace, it never occurred to me that all these classics were just a click away. Late as usual, that’s me, but as they say, better late than never. I’ve also seen and listened to our own DHCF Choir on YouTube (the one and only song uploaded by Lalremlien) as well as the MP3 version on the DT website while memories and thoughts of dear friends crowd the mind. Living in this faraway land, we may not have the privilege of listening and seeing the songs on video at the same time, but the songs more than compensate and we listen with the knowledge that someday, with God’s grace, the privilege of listening to some of the best Hmar voices will again be ours – someday. But I’m glad that, even if the reality sometimes disappoints, our youths’ ‘tlarau’ has been captured and forever etched on video, as so brilliantly pointed out by our one and only Pu Biek.

To go back to my initial impression of fashion in Tokyo, the original ‘Sunga-style’ (with apologies to the first Hmar to start the trend) of wearing oversized jeans/pants, which fell halfway to the knees with underwear (preferably Calvin Klein or Emporio Armani) showing, no longer seems to find any taker here. All the jeans or pants I’ve so far seen being worn here are the sober ones, with no underwear showing, and everything in place – except for the occasional deliberately-torn-in-strategic-places types. In fact, the few Japanese ‘punks’ (the ones with spiky, blonde or multi-colored hairs shaped and styled in a variety of ‘interesting’ shapes and sizes, with not-so-few ear-nose-lip rings and studs) are surprisingly dressed in neat jeans and t-shirts. The loose and deliberately too-long pants and loose t-shirts, normally associated with rappers, which many of our boys still sport, is conspicuous by its absence among the young and trendy here. The young here, as far as I can see, dress so well and smart that they would probably be mocked as sissies if they were to suddenly land up in an event like our Sikpuiruoi or Freshers’ meet. They really are the type any young man or woman would not hesitate to bring home to meet the parents, as far as their dress sense goes.

(10 July 2007)


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