Jul 27, 2014

Rahgiri: Dancing on the streets

The Inner Circle at CP

I went to Rahgiri today with my parents and sister at CP. The idea is for people to reclaim their streets. So every Sunday, the inner circle is blocked from traffic from 6 am to 10 am. This was the the third week since it was started. There were people walking, running, cycling, skating. There were some kids playing football on the side and cricket in the parking lot. Sponsors such as reebok had set up zumba and aerobics session and there were crowds of people aping the instructors on makeshift stages. Dancing on the street was so much fun. I dont think I've done it before. There was yoga happening at one place but that didn't seem too popular. There was a gym equipment area too. You could rent bicycles for free, but there was a long line. There were performances too, one of them by Papa CJ. Times of India had initiated this and had heavily advertised everywhere by putting up billboards. There is no way you can go to CP on a Sunday morning and not know that Times of India has organized Rahgiri. 
All India Skating Association had set up in a small part of the Inner Circle

A biker among the crowd (and TOI adverts in the wheels of the bike)

Gyming in the parking lot


No fitness event in India is complete without cricket

After spending some time hanging out and walking around the inner circle, we went to get breakfast at a popular south indian restuarant nearby called Saravana Bhavan. This proved to be a popular choice and we saw several other people in sports attire coming for breakfast here. By 9 am, there was already a waiting line.

I loved seeing people out on the streets and so many health freaks and adventure lovers. India has not always had so many such people (atleast not at the forefront) and it was nice to see a gradual increase. It reminded me that in a country of 1 billion people, even if 0.1% people show an interest in something that's 1 million people, which is a huge number and market in itself.

Being used to Japan and Singapore, I was initially being careful to walk in the right place and obey the rules, but a few minutes of being at Rahgiri reminded me that this is india, where you are free to do what you want. Not that things were chaotic, infact they were quite orderly by India standards. But I loved whatever little chaos and disorder there was.

The implications of being a democracy: Social activists take advantage of open streets and have people scribble anti-rape messages on the ground with chalk

Jul 24, 2014

Summer Highlights

My summer has ended, but little ways in which it has impacted me keep popping up everyday.
Here is a video of my summer highlights, spanning my visit to India, study abroad in Tokyo and solo travel in Japan.

Jul 21, 2014

Day 52: Osaka

On my last day in Japan, I beat myself at getting lost. I started the day with a luxurious breakfast which cost 500 Yen ($5) but was worth so much more at the Osaka Youth Hostel, after which I spent half an hour planning the rest of my day. Since I only had one day in Osaka, I wanted to be very picky and particular about what I did today, instead of the usual wandering around. So I sat down with a map and my computer and looked up some interesting areas to explore. I pulled out a subway map and figured out how to get from place to place. I even looked up the must eat foods and the best places to eat them. I left my hostel at 10 p.m. and headed towards Osaka Castle. I loved the train system of Osaka. Since Osaka is smaller it takes less time to get from one place to another compared to Tokyo. 

A luxurious Japanese breakfast
Osaka Castle was quite beautiful. More than the castle itself, the area around it was very nice and reminded me of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. There were gardens and bridges and lots groves. If it hadn't been such a hot day, I would have loved to spend more time there. I bought an ice melon that was being sold at one of the many food stall clusters around Osaka Castle and walked around. Things were so far according to the plan. I bought ice melon and walked around. 

The Osaka Castle 

The desperately needed iced melon on a hot day of sight seeing

Around noon, I left Osaka castle for the Dotonbori area (one of the downtowns of Osaka). Dotonbori was a touristy area with lots of activity and little shops, restaurants, etc. in the typical Japanese setting of a thin shaded lane that ran across several streets. One could easily end up at Namba, one of the other downtown areas of Southern Osaka (which is locally called minami). Here is where I got confused and my plan went down the drain. I tried finding a specific okonomiyaki place (the okonomiyaki in Osaka is different from the one in Hiroshima) called Mizuno and ended up looking for an hour. When I finally found it the line was too long and prices were too high. So I took the train to another stop, hoping to find cheaper places to eat. But somehow, I ended back at the same place and found myself walking around in circles. All the streets of the shopping district look quite similar. I was exhausted by this point and ended up eating at a seemingly average place. It was one of those little roadside stands selling Takoyaki (fried octopus fritters) with a small restaurant inside serving okonomiyaki among other Osaka specialties. I don’t know if the place I ate at was bad or I just don’t like Osaka's okonomiyaki that much, but the meal was less than satisfactory. By this time, I was extremely exhausted and dehydrated. So I changed my plan and decided to skip Shinsaibashi (another downtown area of Osaka) and go straight to Umeda (a business district with lots of department stores in the northern part of Osaka called Kita) to pick up some last souvenirs and gifts for friends back home. Umeda was impressive with magnificent buildings and architecture, and overhead bridges connecting all the department stores to each other. The department stores were unimaginably expensive and very fancy. Although they're a nice place to window shop, I couldn't bring myself to actually shop here. So I gave up and headed back to shin-osaka, where my hostel is.

Osaka's Okonomiyaki
Although it was only 4 p.m., I was ready to go to bed. Luckily, when I reached shin-osaka station, I found a range of souvenir shops where I was able to buy what I wanted (generally, the stations from where the shinkansen leaves have quite a few stores and restaurants). After returning the IC card that I had been using for commute during the last two months and figuring out where the airport limousine (a bus service that goes directly from Shin Osaka Station to the domestic Itami airport) leaves from, I went back to my hostel. I was feeling better now and spent some time chatting with people at my hostel over a konbini dinner. I unfortunately wasn't able to try Takoyaki, which is another of Osaka's specialty. 

Osaka felt like a mini-Tokyo or a less intense version of it. People seem to be a bit nicer and less rushed. Not too many tourists were spotted. Although there were quite a few attractions such as temples, downtown areas, etc, I didn't feel the need to go to all of them, because I felt like it wouldn't be too different from what I'd already seen in Tokyo or other parts of Japan. 

Since I did some planning and research before going out today, I felt like an informed tourist instead of just wandering around and taking pictures of things. I could connect things with what I’d read about them online. I unfortunately couldn’t follow through my whole plan though, which is something I can work on during future travels. 

Jul 20, 2014

Day 51: Hiroshima

I took the bus from Ayabe to Osaka early this morning and after dropping my bags at my hostel in Osaka where I was to spend the next two nights, I took the Shikansen to Hiroshima. It felt good to be on my own again and I thought about my last two weeks at the farm. I was surprised at myself for having survived two weeks on a farm and really glad I did it.

I reached Hiroshima after a 20,000 Yen ($200) and 90 minute ride on the Shinkansen. It was worth it. Hiroshima is the cutest little town. It has a lot of tourists who come to visit the peace park. There were a lot of lively commercial areas. Public transport was very good. It included trams and buses. This was my first recallable time riding trams and I was so psyched at the idea of trains running on main roads with other traffic. People in Hiroshima were really friendly and welcoming of tourists. A woman on the tram helped me figure out where I was without me having to ask (I guess the confused look on my face must have been enough for her to know).

The first thing I did when I reached Hiroshima was try the Okonomiyaki which originated from Hiroshima. There was a row of restaurants inside a mall next to the train station. They all had people making okonomiyaki on a large surface in front of you. There was a running counter along the surface with bar stools for customers to sit on, as well as private tables at the back. The restaurant I chose seemed to be family run. The cooks were sweating from all the heat. Customers poured on and there was a line even at 2 pm in the afternoon. Okonomiyaki takes about 10-15 minutes to fully cook on the pan which is why the line didn't move as quickly as it might have in other restaurants. What surprised me about the hiroshima okonomiyaki was that it had noodles in it. I chose soba, which seemed to be the most popular. It was so good. From what I was able to see, it had egg, pork, noodle and sauces. I ate slowly on purpose so that it would last longer.

Inside view of one of the okonomiyaki restuarants in Hiroshima

The okonomiyaki is prepared right in front of you on a large counter
Soba based okonomiyaki: Hiroshima's specialty

After the okonomiyaki, I was ready to explore the city. I was inspired to see as much as I possibly could in Hiroshima, but the peace park was so large and amazing, that I spent all afternoon there and didn't have much time left for other things. The peace park, which was built in memory of the nuclear bombing of 1945, is a large area with multiple statues and symbols of peace and strength that was shown by victims. The most popular was the A-bomb dome, one of the few surviving buildings.

The A-bomb dome used to formerly be a public hall. It remains in its half destroyed state to serve as a reminder of the war. 

Children's Peace Monument, inspired by Sadako, a girl who was 2 years old at the time of the bombing but developed leukemia at the age of 10. She folded a 1000 paper cranes despite her pain, hoping to recover. Unfortunately, she couldn't. 

Some of the paper cranes folded by Sadako at the Peace Memorial Museum
I took a slight detour on my way to the peace museum and visited the Hondori shopping area nearby.

Hondori shopping street

A delicious blueberry milkshake: discovered at a 7/11 on Hondori street

Finally, I got to the Peace Memorial Museum which was more crowded than I expected. Thankfully, the museum was very well built (not surprisingly, it was designed by Tange, the same architect who designed Omotseando Hills in Tokyo) and could manage crowds quite well. I didn't see a single tourist smiling or taking pictures as they moved through the three storey museum and learnt about the aftereffects of war. I learnt that the ground temperature at the time of explosion was between 3,000 and 4,000 degrees celsius, and that the bomb destroyed everything within 2 km radius. About a third of the population was killed. Not everyone died immediately. Some people developed diseases after a few months (or even years). On the day of the bombing (August 6, 1945), people were following their usual schedules, getting ready to go to work when the bomb was dropped at 8:15 a.m. It had been most unexpected, because there had been no warning announcements that day or the day before, as there often were in Hiroshima. Hiroshima had been the centre of many arms and ammunition factories. Many children had been sent away to nearby villages for safety beforehand, and due to the bombing, they lost their parents who had been in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing.
The bomb dropped on Nagasaki was actually stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima, but since Hiroshima was more densely populated, the effects there were greater. The reason that the two bombs were different from each other was that the US was experimenting with both and did not expect both to work. Unfortunately, they did. The US military dropped less powerful bombs called 'pumpkins' in July and early August as practice bombs so that they would be able to effectively drop the nuclear bombs.

An inside view of the Peace Memorial Museum

A picture in the museum of the destroyed Hiroshima

A part of the Peace Memorial Museum is built to make visitors feel as if they are walking through the destroyed Hiroshima. 
 I was on my way back to the train station when I caught site of Tokyu Hands, a department store that I had been wanting to visit in Tokyo. Part of Tokyo Hands has 3D printers where you can print customized items for fairly cheap prices.

A 3D printer at Tokyu Hands prints personalized miniature statues of people based on their pictures 

Jul 19, 2014

Day 50: Weeding and a Portuguese Dinner

My last day at the farm started at 7 am with weeding. Although it still felt tough and physically taxing, I pulled through 3 hours of weeding. After that I did some carving on the wooden deck. Later, Sayaka-san had a group of 5 ladies for lunch and needed help with the kitchen and in serving them. There was a certain way to set the table and specific sides from which to serve and to pick up the dishes. Sayaka-san’s father came for the night too and Celso and I ate lunch with him while Sayaka-san was busy in the kitchen. 

It started to rain quite heavily and we were indoors for the rest of the day. The rain was so bad that there would be lightening every now and then which would shake the house and make us jump. Since we had started early, there wasn't a whole lot of work to do in the afternoon apart from drying dishes. 

Later in the evening Sayaka-san's friend arrived from Tokyo for Sayaka-san's birthday which is tomorrow. We cooked Portuguese dinner. We all ate together and drank some wine. The interaction between Sayaka-san and her friend was akin to mine and Shivani's (my best friend) on one of our sleepovers. 

Portuguese dinner featured octopus salad, grilled fish and potato. It had lots of garlic and olive oil. We chatted for a long time afterwards and it was a perfect last meal.
Sayaka-san's neighbor presented her with a freshly caught fish for her birthday!

A portuguese dish cooked by Celso: Cod fish and potatoes with garlic and olive oil

All of us ready to eat the yummy food

Jul 18, 2014

Day 49 continued: Fukuchiyama, Sushi and Love for Japan

After the English cafe, we went shopping for groceries in the evening. I bought a green apple and what turned out to be chocolate (it resembled an ice cream cone but wasn’t cold). I later learn that it was called Giant Caplico. 
A Giant Caplico: looks like an ice cream cone, but is actually just chocolate. I bought the cookies and cream flavor. YUM! Japanese konbinis continue to enrapture me even after a month and a half of daily visits.
Photo source: 
Afterwards, Celso picked up Japan's unique and somewhat popular shrimp burger from Mcdonalds. We drove to Fukuchiyama (about 30 minutes away) to see Fukuchiyama castle. The castle had been rebuilt 20 or 30 years ago but still looked traditional. The city was double the size of Ayabe but still quite traditional looking.
A view of Fukuchiyama from the castle 
Up close: Fukuchiyama Castle
We decided to go for sushi for dinner to Kaiten zushi (conveyor belt sushi restaurant chain). Sayaka-san loves sushi and said that she once drove to a sushi restaurant straight from the airport after a 2 month trip abroad. This was the same restaurant I'd gone to in my first week when I was in Tokyo with my host family. I enjoyed sushi more this time than my first time. I like to think that I've developed more of a palate for different kinds of sushi, though it could simply be difference in quality in the two different restaurants I went to. I asked Sayaka san over dinner what the hardest part of farming is. She said weeding because it needs to be done all year round. But she also said that it isn’t too hard to perform farming tasks physically. The tougher part is gaining the knowledge of weather, nature, etc. required to maintain and run a farm. 

A Kaiten Zushi dinner 
Tomorrow is my last day here. I'm excited to be heading home soon, but also sad to be leaving. I have started to understand why people love Japan so much. It is equivalent or superior to any other developed country in terms of its safety, ease of travel and wide choice of food. Moreover, it has a deep culture and history to it. It has invented all kinds of things and been a pioneer. The roots of games, technology, etc are here and they show very well. At the same time, people here don’t misuse their power and continue to be humble. I think I will return to Japan. This is unlikely to be my last time here. I am glad I’ve gotten to see 8 cities of Japan already (and will probably see 10 in total). But there’s a lot more, I know.

Day 49: English Cafe for Kids

In lieu of the second day of English cafe, no field work today either. I spent the morning cleaning and doing other small chores around the house. Its getting quite hot during the day which is why Sayaka san suggested doing weeding tomorrow early morning.

The English café had a kids session today. There were lots more people, and so many kids. Celso and I were asked to interact with them over some activities. The kids were of all age groups from 6 months to 6 years old and they were running around. Activities included singing songs, listening to stories in English, collecting bugs and finding out their English names (never before have I come across a situation when the adults ask the kids to go play in the mud with insects) and playing football. The mothers were there throughout and they spoke a bit of English too, some better than others. After being in a controlled, orderly sort of environment for the past month and a half, it felt unfamiliar to see all these kids running around full of energy, completely uncontrolled. Their mothers ran after them encouraging them to do the activities and learn some english words. Although the kids were more interested in running around and playing with each other, they learnt very fast and some of them were very eager to learn English.

Celso reading out a book about animals to the kids

Singing session: The kids sing row row row your boat

Time to collect bugs! 

The kids playing football with Celso

Jul 17, 2014

Day 48: Onigiri Making and my host's English Cafe

Today was the day of Sayaka-san's English Cafe. Once a month she invites people over to her cafe to interact with foreigners (WWOOFers like me and Celso) in English. As I discovered yesterday, Ayabe doesn't see many foreigners and this is a good opportunity for some exposure. The English cafe was to be held on two days this time-Thursday (today) and Friday. One of Sayaka-san's friends, Yuki would come over to take an hour long class for adults on Thursday and kids on Friday. 

So in preparation of the english cafe to be held in the afternoon, we didn't do any field work today and did cleaning in the morning instead. Sayaka-san was busy cooking in the morning. Still, she had enough time to teach us how to make onigiri (Japanese rice ball), which involved taking some sticky rice in your wet hands and giving it a triangular shape. It took me a few times to get it right, especially since my tiny hands didn't cooperate when it came to making larger sized onigiris. But I was surprised to see how simple it really is to make onigiri, which I hadn't realized before having seen onigiris only sold in convenience stores. 

Celso's onigiri and my hands full of sticky rice

A triangular onigiri of rice with seaweed 
 The English cafe started with Yuki coming over for lunch with her 5 year old son. Yuki had studied abroad several times in the US and UK and spoke fluent english. She was an english teacher is school and liked to take classes outside as well. Her son loved insects and bugs and kept running around the farm after them. He caught frogs and grasshoppers and would bring them back to show us. running after insects.

After lunch, the class for adults comprised of English worksheets, listening activities, reading, etc. Celso and I sat through the class. It was fun. Although there was only one adult today, she was very motivated to learn and we spoke to her and Yuki for an hour after the lesson was over. I also met Sayaka-san's neighbors who had come over for a drink to the cafe in the afternoon. They were a couple (seemingly in their 50s) who are visiting Singapore in September. Although we couldn't communicate very well, we exchanged contact details for meeting up in Singapore. 

I was exhausted after all the talking, and fell asleep in the afternoon. Then I watered the fields. It hadn't rained today or yesterday and the fields were very dry. There were cracks in the ground. I loved using the hose at Sayaka-san's house to water the fields and garden. It had different kinds of sprayers in it and was very strong. 

Yuki (left) goes through a worksheet with Maiko, an ever ready english learner at the Englsh cafe

Celso and Maiko do a conversational english exercise together

We ate soba for dinner and Celso and I watched another fascinating TED talk after dinner called 'Why 20s are not the new 30s'. 

Jul 16, 2014

Day 47: Getting to know a small Japanese town

Today was our day off. Celso and I went to the city of Ayabe. We took the 9:30 bus. The bus was tiny. Most of the passengers were aged people. Later, while in town we discovered that most of the town comprises of old people, which is well representative of Japan's ageing population.

We first went to the tourist office and rented bicycles. Then, we went to a shrine which had a complex of gardens and buildings. Just outside its main building, there was a wooden plank facing a zen garden covered in moss. We sat there for quite a while and just talked. 

A moss covered serene zen garden by which we sat for a while. 

A temple that we found after walking uphill from the zen gardens of the complex 
 After that, we went looking for McDonalds to try Japan's shrimp burger (locally known as ebi burger). We asked several people but couldn’t find it. Everyone we asked pointed us in a different direction. It was impressive that they could understand us in the first place. But it was ironic that Celso and I were working so hard to find Mcdonalds, which is one of the franchises that can be found literally everywhere. Finally, our hunger and the hot sun made us give up on Mcdonalds and postpone it to another day.

We went to a Japanese curry place for lunch where we faced some embarrassment in trying to understand the drinks on the menu. People around us were amused. 

After lunch we stopped by a super market for some fruit. We found boxed cut pineapple slices and bought them to share. They were so delicious. While buying the fruit I noticed that the cashier machine was automated in giving change. The lady at the counter inserted the money I gave her into the machine, and the machine automatically calculated the change and threw it out. Genius.

We went to a shawl factory museum. There wasn’t much in English. (Good thing we didn’t have to pay any entry fees!) When we got in, a lady came running after us with different shoes (which resembled toilet slippers) that we had to put on before going into the museum. 

A very realistic looking exhibit at the shawl factory
 After the museum, we still had some time left so we went to the downtown area and walked around there. Most of the shops were closed and the street was mostly deserted. We decided to go back to the first shrine we’d gone to and sit there for rest of the afternoon, since the bus only runs at specific times and the next one was 2.5 hours later.

The downtown street of Ayabe-devoid of people on a Wednesday afternoon. Many shops were closed and the area was pretty quiet, apart from the two noisy high school students we saw besides the grocery store and the cars driving by. 

Language barrier was certainly a problem today and I felt it more than I did anywhere else.We didn’t see any other tourists around and people on the street looked at us quite a bit. Many of the locals said hello to us.One couple even came to shake our hands. This behavior kind of reminded me of the way people in small towns (and sometimes even cities) of India react to foreigners. 

We got home around 6 and spent some time watching TED talks, after which we helped Sayaka-san make dinner. I made the miso soup today and it was surprisingly simple. All I had to do was cut vegetables and put them in boiling water. The miso was put in the end because if its put before, the flavor gets dissolved. 

Jul 15, 2014

Day 46: A Day of Weeding

Today was all weeding. It was a bright day and it didn't seem like it would rain. I spent the first hour helping out around the house while Celso did some carpentry with Sayaka-san’s dad. 

In the field, I spent the first one and a half hour using the weeding machine to cut grass around the rice paddy. The weeding machine is very sharp and sends things flying all over the place. When I do it, I seem to get dirt all over myself. But when Celso does it, he doesn’t seem to. Maybe I wasn't using it perfectly right. Also, the machine only cuts the weeds from the top, and not from the roots. So I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. But Sayaka-san told me later that it’s okay.  I learnt that grass is a kind of weed too.

I spent another half an hour walking inside the rice paddy looking for weeds with red roots. Those are apparently really dangerous. This rice paddy wasn't as neatly planted as the last one and it was harder to walk around in it. There weren’t very clear rows and columns and when there were some, they were too thin to comfortably walk in. The good news was that I was wearing socks, so my feet didn’t hurt too much from the stone, and since it hadn’t rained the mud wasn’t as soft and wet as last time. 

We did some more weeding in the afternoon. I spent about an hour and a half weeding with the machine in another field this time.

For dinner, we ate okonomiyaki. Sayaka-san taught me how to cook okonomiyaki on the pan. All that needs to be done is to put the mixture of vegetables, meat and flour on the pan and wait for it to solidify. It is flipped every now and then and takes about 10-15 minutes on the pan. It was delicious and tasted different from the one I'd had before. 

Okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes) for dinner

Some high school students from nearby visited and we introduced ourselves to each other. They spoke broken English. They just hung around the house for a bit playing with fire crackers.Although I couldn't understand what they were saying to each other, the tone of the conversation seemed similar to what I imagined my own to be when I was their age (around 15 or 16). 

I feel a lot healthier and fit, and I'm eating significantly more than usual. 

Jul 14, 2014

Day 45: Conversation, Carpentry and Using Weeding Machinery

Today we spent the morning finishing the deck. It was a cloudy day with spells of light rain. While it was fun working on the deck, I was given a few difficult tasks like drilling holes into the wood which required all my strength. 

I chatted with Sayaka-san about doctors without borders where she works seasonally. She told me how the doctors that go to the field only stay there temporarily, but the refugee camps can stay for decades, as many of them have. 

I got to try somen for lunch, which is a summer noodle. 
Somen Noodles: You take the noodles out from their plate and dip them in a bowl of tsuyu sauce before putting them in your mouth (like soba noodles). You can add things like ginger, sprouts and green onions to the sauce for flavor. 

After lunch, I took a long nap and then we engraved our names on the wooden deck. All the wwofers who help create stuff carve their names on their creation. It’s great because it makes this place so international with carved names of people from different countries on the wooden decks around the house, the outhouse, etc. 
Celso tries to be a perfectionist in carving our names by the wooden deck we helped build

Then we went to another rice paddy with Sayaka-san’s father which comprises of rice grown for the rest of Sayaka-san's family. We did weeding using the sharp machine which Sayaka-san had earlier told me was quite dangerous. It had a sharp circular blade at the end and it sends weed, mud and stones flying everywhere, including your own direction. She didn’t intend to let me use it, but I was glad I did. It was a good experience. After all this work at the farm, I’m motivated to try more sports and outdoor activities when I'm back in Singapore.

Later in the evening, we spent a long time chatting over our usual outdoor dinner. I learnt that Sayaka-san father has an NPO in Laos. 

Celso showed me this show called 60 minutes which tells stories from around the world. We saw one on China’s real estate bubble and another one on stolen paintings from WW2. Another video he showed me was an episode from a TV show called Master of Killing time. It’s a Japanese cartoon about a guy killing time in class doing random things and a girl next to him freaking out about all that he's doing. 

Jul 13, 2014

Day 44: Finishing the Deck and Pizza Making

It was raining this morning and Sayaka san had guests coming over to her guest house. So we spent all morning cleaning the house in preparation of them.

In the afternoon, we all made pizza for lunch. I learnt how to kneed pizza dough. We made a regular veggie pizza and also added some Japanese food to the meal by making miso pizza! 

We did some drilling in the evening and almost finished the wood deck. It feels great to walk on something you've built. 

Sayaka-san and Celso cook while I get distracted and start taking pictures

A delicious and somewhat circular vegetable pizza

Miso pizza: giving a japanese touch to the meal!
Plums straight from the farm.
After dinner, we joined Sayaka-san's two guests in lighting sparklers. Although we couldn't directly communicate with them due to a language barrier, Sayaka-san's father acted as our translator and we were able to interact a little bit through him.
Post dinner sparklers: The diversity of sparklers was new to me-there were different colors, multi-colored, big ones and small ones.