Lost In Translation, Voodoo And Youth

by Lena

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First time visited Japan when I was 7. Things have changed since then, actually strike that,

I did…

or did I?…

At 7 going on 8, Tokyo was just another playground for me. My father was hired to do work at the University in Tokyo and I just tagged along for the ride. Although it was me who would be doing the riding… As a child, in a different country, in one of the most busiest megapolises in the world, I was making my way on a bike through the crowds…alone. You see, back in the early 90’s, most kids in Russia never even seen a Barbie or a full-blown electronic railway, that took kid’s imagination on a ride of a lifetime. They say, that you can’t remember much as a child… I can. I still feel the butterflies in my stomach turning and turning, flapping their colorful wings, tickling all my senses. I can still feel the crazy beat of that city, intense, overwhelming energy and my fearless movements on that bike.

When students used to go on their holidays in Tokyo, they just leave bikes unlocked for people to use. It was my own magic carpet that would whisk me away to my very own wonderland – A gigantic toy store in the middle of Tokyo. Can you imagine what would happen in USA today to parents, if they god forbid, let their 7-8 year-old on a solo exploration of their own town? I’m not even talking about a crazy city like Tokyo. Me and my mother have a very difficult relationship, but I am forever grateful to her for not keeping me on a tight leash. For some reason at that age, I picked up languages incredibly fast. Yep, after more than a month in Japan, I spoke to my neighbor in Japanese.

Fast forward 20 something years later, I’m in the middle of Tokyo with directions printed out on a piece of paper and still without a clue of where to go. Instead of asking for directions I stood speechless checking out yet another “adults only” magazine. Where am I? Oh, yes, of course, in the middle of a red-light district of Tokyo!

Ok, so I swapped the electronic railway and Barbie for a woman with huge tits on a magazine and multiple orgasms. Big deal! But come on! How can you just pass those “knockers” and not notice them? Moments later a woman you just saw on the magazine, zooms passed you with a couple of other life-size Barbie for adults only, heading to the nearby adult themed Karaoke bar. If you have been following my adventures for sometime now, you might know, that I love extremes. And my Tokyo adventure was a great example of extreme lifestyle. One moment you are on a plane in a Business Class, with flight attendants that ready to spoon-feed you and tell you a bed-time story and then the next, you are being yelled at for wanting to go to a men-only sauna at your capsule hotel. That’s right! A Capsule Hotel there are only couple of capsule hotels in Tokyo that allow women…

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Let me tell you, I seriously thought I was trapped in a Luc Besson’s “5th Element”, but only without a sexy stallion. And for your information, Mr. Besson, it’s not fair to show a film where someone is making love in one of those things… I could barely turn from one side to the other! Although I tried to sneak one stallion passed a very angry Asian woman who works behind the check-in desk…unsuccessfully. (Mr. Bond, I’m kidding) I couldn’t even manage to walk to my capsule in my shoes, she yelled “no shoes!!” (insert accent). When I told her that I would like to use the sauna, she laughed pretty loud and with the same accent said “men only!”… Huh? “This is a discrimination!” I yelled back. Two guys next to me started trying to convince her to allow me inside the sauna. “Hey, we don’t mind if she uses sauna!”. You bet your ass you don’t! This is after all, a no clothes allowed sauna. Ok fine, whatever! Oh look! There’s a she-male karaoke downstairs! How fun! Let me go check that out… damn… they are closed, or maybe they just appear closed and you need to flash your boobs and provide a password, which probably is “dildo” or something close in that particular region.

I met a cool chick, who happened to be my capsule neighbor. She taught me how to put on a kimono style jump suit and not look like I just escaped from a mental institution. She’s a student and this place is a perfect way to live in Tokyo and not lose all your life savings. Capsule is small, but wi-fi is great and my tiny TV remained off… I had plenty of entertainment all around me. I just stood there, trying to figure out how the hell do they live here. I mean, when at night you’re trying to make your way to the bathroom with barely open eyes and still basically asleep, you freak out when you start hearing bird sounds and frogs. Apparently their sole purpose is to remind you to flush the toilet.


Voodoo has always fascinated me. Bali is full of wonderful healers who will try to heal you with the unseen powers, chants, concoctions, “holy oils”, ancient prayers and techniques. I’ve been to Bali several times and my health is always much better after my visits. You are inside the wooden hut, the sun rays are tearing through the roof and touching the altar. You are almost naked, on the floor, sweating and in pain. Healer asks you to close your eyes and breathe. You can hear him chanting, you can’t just yet close your eyes, because curiosity takes over. You see his hand dance with the smoke from the nearby incense. His hand travels from the altar to your stomach, your head, your feet and hands. You let the scent take over your consciousness and you’re finally able to close your eyes.

You know you’re in pain, he knows, you’re in pain, you both accept that reality and try to gently lull pain into a deep sleep, only this time together. His hand presses on each of your toe and all other crucial points. It hurts. You can feel the hot tear running down your cheek, you breathe deeply, you sweat more, he chants louder, scent is more intense, you can feel the pain moving through your body like a snake who’s been set free… You’re not fighting it, you let it move through you. Your body and soul are in a trance and you begin to hum. You’re not even sure that’s it’s you, who’s humming to yourself. A humming sound you’ve never done before… Somehow after an hour, the pain and the humming become almost silent. He pulled both out of you, like a snake charmer pulls a cobra out of a basket for a dance with his flute.

I always feel at peace in Bali. Nature, animals and people of this land will try to heal your most intense pain with their soul.


When you’re invited by two beautiful business class flight attendants of the Malaysia Airlines, to spend a few days with them in Kuala Lumpur, you accept it! “When you walked on board, it felt like light walked in”, Ming told me.

She said that I should cancel my hotel reservation and stay with her. Of course I did! Ming is a woman in her 40’s who looks 18. She lives with her professional diver boyfriend who was out-of-town. Her apartment is full of shells and different items from a well-lived pirate life. I asked Ming what was her secret to such a youthful appearance, to which she replied “Be happy in life and do what you love.” Simple isn’t? That’s exactly what I am doing, regardless of all the obstacles and heartache.

So how many of you can say that the first thing they did in Kuala Lumpur was spend some time at the police station? Yep, Ming parked her car in the wrong place and went to greet me in the Airport when I arrived from Bali. When we returned to the car, cops were already writing a ticket. I turned on my charms and tried to get at least a discount… “Mmmmmm, what perfume are you using?” I asked while trying to smell his neck… He blushed, laughed and like a virtuoso escaped my leaning towards his neck. He knew what I was up to. Ming tried to talk her way out the best she could. Well, we ended up getting  50% discount on a ticket.

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Ming, Me and Ninda, who’s also a mother, spent next days goofing around Kuala Lumpur like kids, who managed to escape the watchful eye of their parents. They took me to their local food joints, where we played with food and where I was the only tourist. I tried the best bread in the whole world here and if I stayed longer, probably would had to buy a whole new wardrobe.

We visited Batu Caves, got stalked by some crazy tourist guy, who wanted to take pictures of us and with us, pretended to be bats, danced around the Batu Caves making all tourists very uncomfortable. We had a photo-shoot in one of the national parks, sang loud in the car, took stupid selfies and laughed to the point of tears and belly aches. We also drunk their local coconut drink thingy, that makes you wonder if they put alcohol in it or what? Cause I was literally drunk…

Ming and Ninda were laughing so hard at me saying “Elena, you are a much better singer when you drink coconut”… They were obviously blowing smoke up my ass, since, I am the worst singer on the planet. Actually I’m convinced that I’m tone-deaf.. (thanks mom!) sometimes wondering how I manage to feel music and dance all those years…

When we were saying “goodbyes” (hate them) in the airport, it felt like 3 very naughty sisters were parting ways, making plans for their next “escape”. I’m still not sure if they do actually fill those coconuts with alcohol, but we were all so very drunk that day. Was it alcohol? Maybe. But it could also be the fact that we let each other forget all that is wrong in our life. My health, Ming’s questions about what she wants to do after she’s done working for the airline and Ninda’s worry for her child, that she is raising by herself with the help of her mother.

No, it wasn’t alcohol…

Maybe just for a moment, we were able to escape to that one place, where sky is not a limit, where everything is possible. A place, where your soul runs free…


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The woman behind Translation, Voodoo and Youth …










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