Friday, January 22, 2016


"Kokoro" - "The heart of things"
What an interesting read -Kokoro by Netsuke Soseki! Written in 1914.
You can read it or download it here!

The introduction on the page in the link above sums up the message of the story:

"As a short introduction, we can do no better than to quote from a review on the back cover of the paperback, by Anthony West in the New Yorker: 'The subject of 'Kokoro', which can be translated as 'heart of things' or as 'feeling', is the delicate matter of the contrast between the meanings the various parties to a relationship attach to it. In the course of this exploration, Soseki brilliantly describes different levels of friendship, family relationships, and the devices by which men attempt to escape from their fundamental loneliness. The move sustains throughout tis length something approaching poetry, and t is rich in understanding and insight. The translation, by Edwin McClellan, is extremely good."

Divided into three parts, the plot builds up slowly, but powerfully.
It's a story of love, friendship, character and death. Upcoming death hunts its protagonist from all the directions, family and friends, with different meanings and long-term messages.
You are given clues along the way about the future events as you follow the story of young college student and Sensei (the teacher). It seems slowly paced first as the story develops gently, almost in a Zen way; as if the author wanted to give you time to absorb all the clues along the way to the final chapter to make your own predictions.

I was strolling along, catching all the clues along the way, until I finally got catapulted with the Sensei's letter. His writing was elaborated and direct, fast paced and descriptive. His expressive language and well expressed story was a drastic change from slow-paced and mysterious first 2 chapters... I couldn't wait to read all of it to find out the end of the tragic love story!
I won't be a story spoiler and reveal the plot, but I highly recommend it for the value of tapping into the lives of Japanese life in era.

Also, on a human level... this is a therapeutic read for those who are dealing with approaching death of elderly parents, or a suicidal death of someone close to them. Author's thorough break down the process of slowly approaching death of an older generation and intermingles it with detailed accounts of the traditional Japanese family customs of respect and duty. The relationship issues within family: trust, money, independence and expectations are criss-crossed with feelings of love,  friendship, jealousy, inadequacy, and loneliness.

It's a "truism' novel, with lifelong sad learning messages passed to a young student, and also to a reader.
"There is a guilt in loving"
"Give a gentleman money, and he will soon turn into a rogue."
"When the fever passes, the enthusiasm will turn to disgust."
"Distrust the whole humanity."
"Men are pretty helpless creatures, whether they are healthy or not. Who can say how they will die, or when?"

Depressing and moody, dramatic yet withdrawn at the same time. The author is in full of control of holding the harness on these strong human emotions until the last chapter when the reader is finally allowed a full glimpse of Sensei's past story. I highly recommend this reading. Its pace it's easygoing, the writing is clean and simple, yet after awhile you might realize that you dove into a rather deep pool of strenuous emotional human condition. If you are in distress or mournful condition, this read might be very helpful in sorting out your own emotions. If you are wearing rosy pink glasses, this book might bring you right back into reality with a memento-mori imprint on your forehead. Either way, it's a revealing story that will add another dimension to your understanding of human suffering.

Here is the link to the movie the first adaptation of the book by Kon Ishikawa in 1955 (Japanese with English subtitles -2hrs 1m) - other version links available here.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


"Some days, to the world,
I feel like
the fake drawers on bathroom cabinets
or the false pockets
on a suit's vest;
a reasonable addition
that looks it belongs,
but what possible purpose
will ever serve?

Some days, to the world,
I feel like
a thunderstorm with too little thunder
and too much rain
and no fathomable idea
what to do with all the lightning
growing inside me.

Some days, to the world,
I feel like
a book with no cover and a title page
that is torn;
I am filled with words
but only those that care to read
will ever understand
what I am about."
                        Tyler Knott Gregson

Today is one of those days... it must be the loneliness that is kicking in!

Saturday, January 16, 2016


"Gdansk" by Dorota Quiroz, 2012
Nuremberg is the second city on my list that I adore. Gdansk is AND always will be my first one.

I spent 4 years in Nuremberg (1988-1992), lived in 7 different locations, walked its streets and enjoyed my new found life in the West. This is where I met my husband and where I delivered my 2 sons. It's very close to my heart and I dream of coming back to refresh my memories.

What I noticed in my travels in the early age is the unintended ignorance or lack of awareness about my surroundings.

The city of Albrecht Durer, Adam Kraft, Veit Stoss, Nurnberg Trials and delicious Nurnberger sausage was hardly on my mind when I lived there.

Defendants at Nuremberg Trials, courtesy of National Archives (USA), 1945

"Self portrait" by Albrecht Durer

During my stay there, I have never really purposely explored, observed, or read about any particulars until I left... What a shame! Don't take me wrong. I was sightseeing all the time, but without previous background or knowledge of history. I visited the castle, I walked the grounds of the Dutzendteich Park and its famous October Fest and Reichsparteitag grounds (where annual rally of Nazi Party took place), I shopped at the Christkindlmarkt, I spent quality time in the Green Goose Bar (rock bar) and wandered the streets of the Wall...

Is there a lesson to be learned? Absolutely! Explore the surroundings of your current location... do some research and find out what you missed while you are there, so you could actually make time to experience it yourself while you can!

"Nurnberg" by Dorota Quiroz, 2012

The planned trip to see old corners of this great city was planned for 2014 but had to be regretfully cancelled due to my unexpected move to Japan. I know though, that when I'm in Europe again, I will make a long awaited stop to bring old good memories back!

Friday, January 1, 2016


by Dorota Quiroz

My Words, my enemies...
Image from
Fighting me constantly
Ready to pierce
With the coldness of their swords

My Words, my hostages...
Fed with emotions
Ready to escape
To revenge their silence

My Words, my thieves...
Stealing my peace of mind
Ready to take away
What is the dearest to me

My Words, my addiction...
Injecting poison in my heart
Ready to burst it
With a rapid high

My Words, my pride...
Deformed by accent
Ready to gleam
At the sound of conversation

My Words, my babies...
Born of my thoughts
Ready to be aborted
So they won't cause problems

My Words, my life...
Surviving under extreme conditions
Ready to die
At my command