Sunday, November 30, 2008

Changing times

As we see the world shrink into a global village and technology bridge the geographic boundaries, The emergence of the poorer countries challenge the super powers of the last century we are also witnessing other changes that are very disturbing. Especially the events in Mumbai in the last few weeks have been an alarm of sorts. Even the beast within the human race has become more advanced and ruthless.

Its sad to see people use religion, nationalism, etc. selectively to accomplish their selfish goals. Before I look beyond our border I feel we are not honest with ourselves. Our government is playing to the galleries when it says the same story after every blast. They have been busy covering up their own intelligence flaws. We all know there are insurgent groups within our country who exploit human emotions and play the divide and conquer policy. Some of them are hand in glove with the political parties. We need the common man to understand these tricks.

All of us especially the educated types need to participate in the public life and help the ignorant mass understand these games. The educated crowd rarely votes and are often taken for granted by the political parties. We strongly need the educated and the financially sound people to take more social responsibility especially in educating the others.

I believe our education system is more focussed towards producing many doctors and engineers who are completely driven by their material goals. We need a system which focusses strongly on value based system. Which would make our society shun the social, economic and class inequity. A society where there would be peace and justice in all spheres of life.

It is very easy to be critical and have an opinion about every other person but to change the system a we all need to work on changing the way each of us percieve ourselves and whats around us. What we see around us is a identity based politics and in a country like India there are a million identities and a billion people. You could be a hindu, muslim, christian or any other faith or any sect/caste within it. You could speak any of the 1000+ languages/dialects but we all are the creation of the same creator and have to return to the same end. We need to focus on the values that focus on truth and justice in all spheres.

In short our politics should move from identity based to value based. I feel we are indulged in a lot of mudslinging but never take responsibility about anything. We as a people as a human race need to come out of it. We are at the end of the day accountable.

Not sure if my thoughts make sense but they always haunt me and Its best I share them through my blog.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some changes hurt

I started jogging yesterday near my home in one of the parks on rose garden road. I entered the park for the first time yesterday but I have driven through rose garden road forever. I actually dint know its real name till recently. I used to call it the shady road. because of the trees on either sides and they give shade to the entire road. At times even when it rains the whole road is protected from the rain. It is one of the most beautiful sights in Bangalore.

Just when I returned home after the jog I read an editorial in the paper which spoke about the damages the metro rail projects would cause. It dint occur to me till then that the parks along rose garden road would be damaged to accomodate the rail line and even the Jayanagar station would replace one of the parks. I always felt so good about the metro project but this thought spoilt my mood.

Now Bangalore is all set to graduate from the garden city to a concrete jungle. Im just hoping against hope that the damaged yet to be caused is minimised.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Feeling blue

First month at this new job has been a pretty tiring and hectic experience. I got into a datawarehousing project for a US based finance organization. I have been part of similar projects earlier but this one is different in its own way. Frankly speaking its been a boring experience so far. Main reason being the connectivity issues to the client network. Though the work is good it takes ages to even type a simple query and get the result.

The only interesting part in the last month has been the trip to Dharwad last week to attend Altaf's wedding. The trip was very refreshing. I visited Hubli Dharwad for the first time. The Bangalore wedding's are very different. In Bangalore everything is pretty commercial and things happen in a jiffy. Life in smaller towns is still like the Bangalore I knew as a kid.

After the wedding all of us decided to take a day off and go to Dandeli for river rafting. But no water was let out of the dam and the dam thing got cancelled. It is the second time my river rafting plan got cancelled. Anyway there is always a next time.

Of late, I have been a bit confused about most things and the distance to the office and long working hours have also made the situation pretty stressful. Even the newspapers these days carry pretty sad stories like the US economy crash, terrorist attacks and dirty politics going with it. In between all this depressing stuff I enjoyed the Mohali test victory. The Aussie dominance had made test cricket boring.

This post is very mixed up like the thoughts in my head. Hopefully before the next post I get things sorted out and write something more meaningful.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

New beginning...yet again...

Its another new beginning for me. Its the second new job in the same year. Life seams the same when you move from one software services company to another. However, this is the first non Indian company I have joined. It is a bit different and since IBM is an older and bigger company I see the processes are more stable and are more strictly followed. It looks more performance oriented than my previous companies, by the look of it. But I guess what meets the eye in the first few weeks in just the tip of the ice berg.

Another interesting part has been starting work in ramazan after months of rest. And the office is 22 kms away that makes it even worse. Leaving to work in the morning at 8 and returning home at 10 pm after taravi. Its tough but better than doing nothing at home. My project is still in its beginning phase and since we have no connection to the server. Its been all planning and learning. Work should begin with full flow post ramazan.

Other than work life has been pretty slow not much on the personal front and even all my friends are busy. For now I have planned to start jogging and exersizing and a couple of trips are planned post ramazan. Other than that its been pretty easy going. I am looking forward to some action pretty soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Changes yet again

Lots of new stuff has been happening around me of late. First of all, its my last week in Satyam. I will be joining IBM next week. This was expected as there are no projects in my area of work in Satyam Bangalore at the moment and sitting on the bench sucks big time. Well, how life in IBM will be again depends on the kind of work I'll have to do there. I feel its another decission with an element of risk. Lets see how things go.

Life has been pretty slow till now. Since June a lot has happened around me but not much with me. I guess I expected it to go really fast since I joined Satyam but its not exactly been as per plans. Either things go too fast or too slow. Thats expected in the IT industry. One good side of changing the job right now is that this ramazan will go pretty peacefully. First week will go in my notice period and rest within the first few days in a new company. I hope it will be a peaceful and blessed month.

For now, I just want to start afresh in a new job. I expect some action post Ramazan both personally and professionally. Watch this space for more updates.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kerala weekend

It was a much needed weekend after more than two months of highly inactive existance. Toms got married on saturday in Kottayam in Kerala. Toms was my colleague in TCS and Ive been out of touch with most of my TCS colleagues for the last 8 months almost. It was an interesting reunion.

Sarfraz, Manoj and I met in the Bangalore railway station on friday evening. Tom's roomies Adarsh and Smitesh also joined us. We met them for the first time. The train left Bangalore station at 5 15 PM and it was a pretty interesting journey. Manoj and I dint get a reservation initially but managed to get our waiting list reservation converted to a sleeper berth. The journey was pretty good. We all had a lot to catch up about. Especially with Manoj. Both of us left TCS and we realised that its the same story anywhere in the IT industry.

We reached Ernaukulam in the morning around 6 and took a bus and walked till we reached Ettumanoor. Got ready and went to Tom's place. We had a traditional mallu breakfast of Appams with curries. Tom's home and surrounding areas were really spacious. I really long to live in such open spaces at some stage in my life. The speed(lack of it) with which the life moves out there is really good. I might plan another holiday there.

The wedding began at 10 30 AM in the church. It was the first christian wedding I attended and it was very different from what I expected. I had imagined the kind of weddings shown on TV. The wedding was very simple but the hospitality was unmatched. The wedding ceremony lasted for almost two hours. After which we had a very good luncha nd headed back to our room. Smitesh and Adarsh left us there. They had some other work to catch up with. Sarfraz, Manoj and I slept till late in the evening. In the night we went out and had our dinner in a restaurant called Shalimar. The food looked good but the coconut oil smell made it taste pretty ordinary. It was a good experience walking through a mallu village without knowing their language.

Toms arranged for a vehicle for us the next morning to check out Kumarakom. We were accompanied by our driver Kochi and a guide Shiju. We were very lucky to have Shiju with us as he could speak Hindi.We left at around 9 in the morning and had our breakfast on the way. It was a simple south Indian breakfast with a unique Kerala flavour. I stuck to my favourite appam's. We reached Kumarakom around 11 and had a 2 hour long boat ride. The weather and the backwater sight was really breathtaking. We dint have much time but the ride was amazing. I could see many house boats and other cruise options. I long to come and see them again whenever I get another chance. We stopped in the middle where we tried some local fried fish. It tasted very fresh and thats another reason I have to go back to Kerala again. However, one thing caught my eye is the weed growth in the back waters. It has the potential to destroy the natural beauty we have but we see absolutely no action by the local government to address the issue.

After the boat ride we left back towards Kottayam. We had a traditional fish and rice lunch Kerala style. Manoj and I took the 4 PM bus back to Bangalore and Sarfraz left towards Chennai that night for his US visa interview. The return journey was a very painful one. It lasted about 14 hours and even the AC bus drive was very bumpy. Overall it was an interesting journey and hope more of them with my friends in the near future.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Change needed

Its more than two months since I returned home. It has been perhaps the slowest two months in a very long time. Even more so because the previous four months were really eventful. Everyday in Japan was eventful, one way or the other.

However, there have been certain interesting events I have to mention. First and foremost, the arrival of Faisal(sister's son) has been a very happy moment for the entire family. Especially to see him learn new things and see changes in his size and behaviour is really fun.

Next important event is we moved to a new home in JP nagar. Its a big change since we lived in T block since the last 21 years atleast. I remember Kulsum was born and around the same time we came to our T block home(I was 5 years old then). Now Kulsum is in her final year Engineering.

The new home is very good. My dad has put in lots of effort time and money into it. I must say it is a dream home but still all of us miss the old home very much. Especially the T block neighbourhood was the best we could have asked for.

As they say every good thing comes to an end and every end is a new beginning. Life has begun afresh in our new home and looking forward for some developments on the professional front as well. After absolutely no work since reporting in the Bangalore office and getting a couple of interesting offers I am in a fix what to do. I have been thinking a lot about moving on and starting afresh. It definitely is not an easy decission to take.

Its time I consider all possible aspects and outcomes and take a decission with ofcourse help of God Inshallah things should work. I am sure all things will have stabilised before I update my blog next time. Bye till then

Monday, July 14, 2008

What am I upto?

I am still trying to figure out "What am I really upto?". I returned to India on 31st May and since then not a lot has happened professionally. I have even hibernated from posting on my blog . On the personal front however things have been good.

On reaching India somethings have looked awesome but I miss some experiences. The best things in India are family and food. The home food and eating out has made me pretty fat the happiness can be seen through the tires around my waist. Just started jogging last week to get healthier. However, Ive been missing the train rides from Atsugi to Tokyo and within Tokyo in the metro. Everytime I pass through MG road, I think when will I travel on "Namma Metro". Even the drive through Hosur road is pretty painful. But I do see hope in the near future as the flyover work is progressing pretty well. One thing is for sure, grass is always greener on the other side. I missed India in Japan and now I remember those days in Japan.

There has hardly been any work in office. The HR guys are trying to allocate some new project to me but as of now nothing seams to be coming. This is the time I have to invest in learning. Since I returned to India the most interesting thing has been meeting my family. Especially the latest member Faisal. He was born on 2nd June. My sister became a mum and I became an uncle.

Frankly speaking, its kind of an offseason on the professional front. Till some new project comes along I have to try to catch up with friends. For now its just an entry in the blog to say "I am still around".

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Golden week

Last week was my best one in Japan. It is called the golden week and almost all the offices in japan are closed. A string of national holidays span through this entire week like the children's day, constitution day etc. To make it even better, development of our project is complete and our team is relatively relaxed. Rajasree and Deepak are back home in India. Siddhartha and I had 10 days in our hands to make the most of the occassion.

My holidays started on friday, since I had worked on weekends earlier. My golden week began with a visit to Tokyo. My jummah was in Tokyo Camii where I discovered an Egyptian restaurant, Obento in Yoyogi uehara. Most of the desi's,arabs,africans and turkish people around that place have lunch in Obento after their friday prayers. That place was so much like "Zak's" in Bangalore. Same Shawarma, Khubus, Filafel, Hummus etc. After the Egyptian lunch I did some window shopping in Akihabara. I wanted to discover the japanese electronics market. There was so much choice if I wanted to buy a product meant for the japanese market. But the international products are fewer in number. However, even then you will always be stuck with many so many choices. I could not make a decission what to and what not to buy. I decided to come later with Siddhartha to make a final choice.

On saturday I relaxed at home. Did some research on the net about the places to visit during the holidays. Even then too many choices. Its not easy to make a decission when you dont have any constraints. Initially I wanted to go to Osaka, Kyoto and Nara but according to, there were some interesting choices closer to Tokyo region. Siddhartha and myself were still unsure about the decission to make. Only decission we made was to go to Akihabara on sunday for some electronics shopping.

Our sunday began pretty late, as usual. Around 11 we left to Tokyo. As my plan always in on reaching tokyo(I always reach Yoyogi uehara around zuhur time). I went for my zuhur prayer in Tokyo camii and wanted to take Siddhartha to try the Egyptian lunch. For our bad luck, the restaurant was closed on sunday. It was a bad beginning but still we decided to checkout Ginza before leaving to Akihabara. We reached Ginza around 1 30 PM. Siddhartha had high expectations of Ginza but dint find it all that impressive. Maybe, I had praised that part of Tokyo more than it deserved. We ate in an Indian vegetarian restaurant called Natraj. Its not easy to find a vegetarian restaurant anywhere in Japan. The food was good but a touch expensive(2500Y per head). After our lunch we left to Akihabara where we met my friend Arif who was himself doing some window shopping along with his friend. He helped us find Yodobashi, which is the best place to shop for electronic goods around the Akihabara station. We actually dint take much time in buying anything. I bought an ipod. Siddhartha also bought an mp3 player and some other gifts like wall hangings and T shirts. We left to Roppongi hills after our shopping, where we had a photo session as usual near the sky scrapers of Tokyo. I walked to Hiro'o for asar and mogrib prayers. After which we checked out the Roppongi hills in more detail. We dint go on top but saw the festive atmosphere created over there due to the golden week ofcourse. We returned home after that.

We continued our research on the net about the places to visit outside of the Tokyo region. We had considered a town called Nikko earlier but Arif sang praises about it when we met him in Akihabara. We decided on Nikko and tried to find out as much as possible through the internet. We decided to get there on the Tobu Nikko pass, which would make the trip more reasonable and hasslefree.

On tuesday, we left home around 7 in the morning. We took the Odakyu line till Yoyogi uehara station and from there changed lines and reached Asakusa station around 8 30. We reached there just in the nick of time to catch the train bound to Nikko. We took the pass and left on the express train around 9 15. We reached our destination in a bit more than two hours. The train ride was a very nice one. We could see the Japan we had not seen till then, full of farmers and paddy fields. On reaching Nikko, first thing we saw is a desi restaurant(Asian Garden) right in front of the station run by a Bangladeshi. We ate some prawn curry over there and they suggested us to stay in a Dormitory they have around Lake Chuzenji. After having lunch, Siddhartha and I took the bus till Nihisando. We saw the different temples and shrines over there. It was a beautful sight. The japanese architecture was for us to see there. However, what makes that place really beautiful is the greenery. We saw the real glow of nature after having seen the winter all these months. We saw the Sakura glow in Tokyo in the first two weeks of april but the glow was still to be seen in Nikko.

After the Temples and shrines we took the bus to lake Chuzenji and kept our bags and checked into the dormitory in Asian garden. It was a very cheap option(1500 Yen a night) and the dormitory was not very crowded. We took the bus to see Ryuzu falls after taking rest for about 30 minutes. Ryuzu falls was a very beautiful sight. We could see the water flow from somewhere with great force. One cant help just follow the water to see where it is coming from. We walked upstream and as we went the sight got more and more beautiful. We took pictures and walked through the woods. It was an amazing feeling where we could smell the nature and feel the winds blow. While the water kept flowing and made a very musical sound. I must say the 2 km walk upstream dint feel like hard work. It was just going with the flow. If I was to pick my best experience in this country, it would be this "walk in the woods". On reaching the top where we thought of taking a bus to return to our dormitory but the bus just left and the next bus was after one hour. We now decided to walk back downhill and hoped the bus would catch us while we are walking back. It turned out to be a 4 km walk back to our dorm. It was tiring but fun. Especially the cool wind and the natural surroundings made it feel so. We reached our dorm around 8 pm. We had our dinner which was an Indian style buffet. It was more Bengali style(sweet) and reminded me of my stay in Kolkata. We went to sleep after dinner. There we got into a very interisting conversation with a Dutch person of Iranian descent. What began as a friendly talk, turned into a political arguement. Siddhartha was smart enough to change the topic and get it all down to tourism in japan. We were too tired to continue talking and we went to sleep.

On wednesday we had plans to see more lakes and falls. Nikko is a place full of lakes, falls and hiking trails. We begn our journey with the Kagone falls very close to lake Chuzenji. It was another beautiful sight. We could see a rainbow formation very clearly. It was another postcard perfect picture. So far our trip was full of each sight more beautiful than the other. We then had a look at lake Chuzenji and thought of retuning near Nikko station after checking out some more spots on the way back. We took the bus bound to Nikko station and got down at Nishisando. Where we found directions guiding us towards Jakku falls. We had another 2 km long walk uphill to see the Jakku falls. It was a very tiring walk but at the end it was worth it. This waterfall was not a very big one. But a big advantage here was that we could get into the water. I had carried my swim wear expecting an oportunity to getting into water and this was it. Siddhartha was the first one to have courage to enter the water. Though I can swim long and Siddhartha is not to comfortable swiming long, I was scared to get into the falls. Both of us got into the water one by one. It was a very special experience. Especially the temperature of te water was so low but the dip in the cold water made us feel so relaxed that we forgot that we had walked uphill to get here. We walked back down and took the next bus towards the Tobu Nikko station.

On the way we got down near a very famous bridge just to have a look. We decided to walk to Tobu Nikko station from there and on the way we even found an internet/information centre, where we got to know more about this very interesting place. We then walked back to the station. We had our lunch in Asian garden. After we had our lunch, to my surprise I couldnot find my pass. That was most important to get across Nikko town. I searched for the pass going back to the information centre and other spots but couldnot find it. It dint feel nice but had to move on. We now decided to go to Kirifuri falls which was not that special but I realised on that trip that the Japanese system trusts their guests I mean though I had lost my pass that would take me aroubd Nikko and back to Asakusa. They dint make me pay even a yen extra.

After returning from Kirifuri falls we found Daiyagawa youth hostel to spend that night. The facilities here were nothing special compared to Asian garden in Chuzenji but it cost us 2700 Y(double of the cost in Asian Garden). Anyway it was an interesting stay. We met some Japanese and Canadian tourists. One of the Canadians was a good guitarist and singer. That night was a concert like experience.

We left the next morning to Tobu world. Tobu world has replica's of most important places in the world. Each replica is of 1/25th size of the original and identical to the original place. We saw the best places in Europe, Asia, Egypt and America. Took a lot of photo's. The best one being near our very own Taj mahal.

After viiting Tobu wonderworld we took the train back to Asakusa and from there back to Hon-Atsugi. It was a hassle free journey. Where we saw many places but never faced any hassle either for travel or stay. We were back home on thursday evening. That day we decided to have much needed rest. Through our trip, our days began in the early morning around 8 and ended around midnight. We never even went to office at sharp 9 unless when it was absolutely necessary.

My friday went pretty quite. Went to Ebina for jummah and rest of the day washed clothes and finished all my pending work. We had plans to go out again on sunday but it dint quite work out. My saturday and sunday mostly passed in Ebina masjid where there were some interesting programs. I got to meet many people. One most interesting person was brother Loui from Spain.
I returned home only to watch some stuff on youtube. I followed a bit of IPL but its not quite possible to do it with the enthusiasm we do it at home.

On monday I again set out to Tokyo, alone this time. I wanted to have a nice time before I got back to work. As usual after zuhur prayers in Yoyogi camii I had a very good Egyptian lunch in Obento. Then I left to Akihabara to buy a digital camera. I bought a new Olympus micro but not before having checked each shop in Akihabara for a good international model. Atlast, I found a good deal in Yodobashi where I exchanged the points earned on earlier purchase. It turned out to be a very good deal. I managed a 30% discount. Im yet to use my new camera though. On my way back as usual evening and Isha prayers in Tokyo camii yoyogi uehara and had a very good Egyptian dinner in Obento before taking Odakyu line to return home.

Overall a very long and interesting Golden week and a blog that is more like a novel. I found it really tough to recall all events while writing it. I know most of those who read might not have the patience to read it to the end. Anyway, I hope to have more of these golden weeks in many more interesting locations in time to come. Lets say ameen to that.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Still around

Im still around I havent updated my blog in the last one month. Not because Im busy but I have done nothing special or new. Its been pretty monotonous of late. Go to office and do your work. On weekend I go around, typically to some spots within Hon atsugi or to Tokyo. Besides saturday nights are reserved to the deeni talk followed by dinner in Ebina masjid. It has been three months away from home and Ive started started missing India.

As far as my project goes, the development phase is done and the code is getting tested. We will have work only incase of any defect found or if the client wants some change to be implemented. One important member of our team, Rajasree left to India this morning. She will be back in 15 days till then Siddhartha and I have to even manage her part of the project. My current project is expected to finish by may end or june 1st week. Im not sure whats in store after that. However, I will be completely free through the next week. Its called the Golden week here. I plan to go see some new city in Japan. I hope Osaka, Kobe and Hiroshima. Siddhartha is unsure. Lets see if it works out.

For now I have nothing to update. There will be something interesting hopefully after the golden week. Till then its a slow but steady life at work.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another weekend finally

Getting a two day weekend is no longer a rule but a rare exception. Last week I had the privilege of having a holiday on sunday. My teammates decided to go out and checkout the natural beauty of Japan. On sunday morning Rajasree and Akhilesh were supposed to wait for Siddharth and me in the station at 10 but we were fast asleep even around 10 30. I woke up and went to see what Siddharth was doing, he had just woken up. Then we both spoke about getting ready at will and taking off. Right then I saw Akhilesh and Rajasree marching like they wanted to kill us. They were waiting at the station for the last one hour and we dint have a cell phone, that dint help. At last we reconciled and decided to go to Hakone at around 11 am.

We took the train to Odawara and reached there around 12 noon. From there we took another train on the Tozan line to Hakone-Yumoto. It was a nice ride. The train from Odawara to Yumoto reminded me of India(The train near Ooty on which Shahrukh danced) since it was not very fast and went through a less populated region. It was great to see nature at its best. This region was not like the Tokyo or Atsugi. It is primarily a tourist spot. Everybody comes here to see the Mount fuji, old volcanoes and hot springs. On reaching Yumoto we had a look around the station just in hope of finding a desi restaurant. But we were not that lucky. That region hardly has any foreigners. Foreigners are only tourists over there. We ate biscuits for lunch and left for a further trail.

We took the cable car till a station called Gora, where we got down and took lot of pictures. It was where the real beauty of Hakone begins. We took the ropeway from there, The ropaway stops at many spots before reaching lake Ashinko. Each stop has its own beauty. Especially the mountains emit smoke all the time. It reminds one of documentaries on national geographic channel about earthquakes. Its about the nature being extremely beautiful and devastating all at the same time.

The best part of this whole journey is the views we get to see from the train, cable car and the ropeway. This is something I saw for the first time in Japan ie. the laid back life. In Atsugi/Tokyo I saw people only rushing from home to office and back. The trains were full of people either listening to music or playing with their cellphones. In short as slaves of technology. The story was very different in Hakone.

Anyway, last stop of the ropeway was lake Ashinko which was again very beautiful and we were supposed to take a cruise from there but we were late by 10 minutes for the last cruise. We had coffee in a coffee shop on the bank of the lake. We saw some very beautiful pieces of art on the wall of the cafe. It looked the same girls photo's that were drawn everywhere but at different stages of her life. I asked the old lady who served us coffee, if its some famous personality of this country whose potraits are kept for display. Her reply was that it was her own pics when she was 12, 13, 14 etc. Now she looked close to 60. I smiled at myself and we left. Not before we thanked her in japanese and she replied to us saying "Shukriya".

We left from Lake Ashinko in a bus to Odawara station and from their we took a train back to Atsugi. We had our dinner in Bismillah and bid farewell to Akhilesh who was due to leave later that week. Overall it was great fun to see a new face of Japan before getting back to the grind on monday.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Weekend atlast (last weekend)

It was a very long week. Each day of the week was very long. I think his is when you feel best about taking a break. I finished lots of unfinished business. The most imporant one being a much needed haircut. It was the first time in the last month since I left India.A desi gentleman, I met in the srilankan grocery guided me to a salon where he spoke to the hairdresser in japanese about how I like my hair to be cut. A salon is not the best place to experiment with a new language.

Next adventure of saturday afternoon was cooking chicken curry. To my surprise it turned out to be really nice. Almost like what Im used to eating at home. All thanks to the readymade masala mum had packed.Saturday evening was at the ebina masjid. It was a big gathering there as usual. Many new desi/paki faces. I made a new friend. His name is Faizan and even he belongs to Bangalore.

After dinner in the masjid we drove away to Yokohama about 30 minutes from Ebina. It was a casual drive. Even I tried my hand at driving on the Japanese roads. I was not that comfortable as I have only an Indian license, so dint drive on the main road.We were back in Ebina before fajr. Then, I returned home and hit the bed.

In the evening I had plans to go to Tokyo for some electronics market, which dint work out as I was catching up on my sleep. Went to Tokyo around late evening. Did my mogrib prayers in Yoyogi Uehara "Tokyo camii". It is one of the oldest mosques in Japan. Managed by turkish expats. It was a good experience.Then, I had a walk till yoyogi park. A jazz concert was on. Some of the Japanese audience of that concert guided me to the closest railway station and I returned home around 9 PM.Overall it was a much needed break and an eventful weekend. Not much to write, but the experiences were fun. For now its back to work.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Unfortunately I was not around

Feb 18th was indeed a very painful day for me and many people I know. Baba(my grandpa) passed away that day. He was a very strong and positive person. Every person in my family and extended family spread across the world has very good memories about him. He was a very knowledgable and took interest in helping everybody. We will always miss him.

I hoped I would meet him when I returned home, but thats how God willed. My sister mailed me the bad news when I was in middle of a very stressful situation at work. Thats when I felt most helpless. I wanted to be at home but couldnot help. Im in a place where not even a funeral stops the show. This was one day perhaps, I will always regret not having been in India.

Anyway, all I can do is pray for Baba's maghfirath and whoever reads my blog please join me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Work, work and more work

This week has been the most hectic one of my life. Its sunday afternoon and Im in office went home last night at midnight. Never did I study or work so much even during my exams. We have a delivery scheduled on 29th feb and we are way behind schedule. More we test our code more defects we find and more changes we have to make. I think this is how the software industry functions. The approach is much more relaxed in India where "its human to err(ocassionally)". In Japan mistakes are a cardinal sin. So we have to test our code again and again and again before the tester has a look of it.

Having said all that, I consider myself lucky to have found a very friendly and understanding team over here. The atmosphere is professional yet fun. Last night I had my dinner in our favourite Neel Gagan at midnight with my project manager Deepak. Saw a bit of the movie Sunday there and returned home around 1 am. Best part of this country is anybody can go anywhere at anytime and feel safe. There are cops everywhere and everything is systematic. Maybe this system is a result of the workaholism that defines the Japanese.

On lighter note I think I can suggest Rajkumar Hirani to make a Munnabhai sequel (Munna san in Japan). Preaching the japanese to go a bit easier on work and have a "tension lene ka nahi tension dene ka" attitude. Even as I write, I have another defect to fix. I better get back to fixing the bugs.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Not so eventful...

My biggest achievement last weeekend was cooking dal all by myself. On sunday it snowed like mad I could barely step out of my home. Before 10 am all the cars were under a mountain of snow. I had bought some goceries from the Srilankan store. I wanted to experiment my culinary skills. The dal was not bad. I had it with some roti's. The biggest contribution to this skill is my stay in Kolkata. My roomies were awesome in the cooking department.

Next, I plan to make some chicken curry whenever I get some time. But for now I have lots of work to complete. Even I have to prepare for my Japanese class. I have to try reading some of the basic alphabets. Its easier to learn talking than reading it. Besides, learning to read there written script (katakana/hiragana) is just the beginning. Most of the instructions on the street and elsewhere are written in the Chinese derived script which is based on pictures rather than sounds. This is a very technical topic for both me and whoever is reading my blog Im sure.

One thing I have understood in my limited experience here is that most japanese live to work. So often I have seen people come to office with there tooth brushes. Its not a surprise to see people stay overnight and most of the wash rooms are full of people brushing there teeth aroung morning 10. Fortunately I work for an Indian company with a slightly different attitude to work. But providing service to these Japanese clients has its own side effects. There work culture and sense of punctuality hits you straight on the face. But the situation is not that bad as they are very courteous and make the situation comfortable for anybody especially foreigners.

One of the following weekends I plan to go to one of the hills near Tokyo where I want to try skiing and other winter sports. The issue right now is company. It was fun when Vijay was around. I think he will be back for 10 days again in feb. I think I'll wait for another week before I make any plan.

For now its back to work. Not much to write actually. More on this blog as anything new happens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another eventful weekend

Having seen japanese office life for a week. I needed a break more than anything else. On friday night we went to Ginza in Tokyo for the Satyam new year party. It was a very nice opportunity to break ice with who's who in Satyam Japan. I left to Tokyo by train from Hon Atsugi station. I carried my teammate's cell phone and he was supposed to guide me on which train to take. His watch was probably a minute here or there and he asked me to take a train and I took the wrong train. But fortunately one going in the right direction. The Japanese accuracy can be a pain at times if you are adjusted to Indian way of planning.

Now I was in a train I dint know much about and nobody in the train spoke English. To add insult to injury the cell phone network is the weakest in the train. I was lucky enough to meet a Syrian gentleman ho spoke English to volunteer to guide me. After lot of tension I reached Ginza atlast. The party out there was all Bollywood numbers and our Japanese colleagues also shaking leg to them. One more interesting thing was eating continental suff with chopsticks. For a long time I dint spot any spoons. Actually they were placed behing everything. Anyway alls well that ends well. I learnt to use the chopsticks.

After the party Rajesh and I got back to Atsugi together on the train. It was the perfect opportunity to break ice with someone you will work with for sometime to come.

Next morning it would be my new friend Vijay's last day in Japan since he was flying back next morning. I shifted my stuff from Park inn to my new appartment in excell hieghts. We decided to go back to Tokyo. Again we decided to take the train and make plan on the move. We had a vague idea of visiting Rappongi hills since he is a veggie and thats the only place we were sure about a veg restaurant. On the train we met Moto san who also works in Nissan. He adviced us to see Rappongi hills which is the tallest tower in Tokyo. On the whole a perfect plan made on the move.

It was a lovely day spent in Rappongi hills. We saw Tokyo tower and the skyline. The best view to see Tokyo. We spent about an hour or so there and got back on the train. We had plans to go to Machida to check out some electronic stuff in the market there(Moto san adviced us to do so). To our surprise there was nothing but barber shops and restaurants in Machida. Maybe we checked out the wrong places. Then we left back to our home in Atsugi. Had our dinner in good old neel gagan and bid farewell to Vijay.

Now the mission for sunday was to wash my clothes and find a mosque aound my home. I took the train to Ebina(two stops from hon Atsugi). Then read he map I found on google. As usual I again lost my way. Relying on shadows to find directions. The lesson learnt here is that the shadows are reliable only near the equator. Then a japanese teenager guided me correctly to the mosque. Over there I met a Anis bhai. After prayers he took me out for lunch and helped me find a halal grocery and even helped me buy a calling card. He refused to let me pay any bills telling me "Aap to humare mehmaan hain". Only way I can return the favour is by praying for him.

Then I got back home by train after the mogrib prayers. I was dead tired ate some stuff I bought at the grocery and hit the bed. But the biggest anticlimax for the weekend was that all the equipment in my appartment had instructions written in Japanese. I had a tough time with everthing right from washing machine to AC. I had a tough time that night but after a lot of trial and error things are sorted. Overall the weekend was fun. Now I better get back to work. Lotsa stuff's pending.;)

PS: Since I moved out of the hotel I dont have the facility of either internet or receiving calls till I buy either a mobile or a laptop. I only have access to updating my blog from office. Im planning to get online asap;)

Monday, January 21, 2008

From the office

Its four days now and I've got pretty much adjusted to this life. Typically I wake up early just around sunrise(around 6 45). Perform my morning prayers have tea and get ready. I enjoy the lovely view from my room down the road. Yesterday I saw snow for the first time in my life. It looked good. Especially around 7 in the morning when the kids are on their way to school(reminds me of my cousins Heeba/Ammar in Canada). Then I have my breakfast. Typically buns, boiled eggs, juice and coffee.

Then its time to go. I run to the Hon Atsugi station at around 8 45 and catch the bus to Nissan akusto(my office). Thats the only place where you get to see some desi's(other than one or two desi restaurants ofcourse). At the moment life in office is not that hectic. Mostly understanding a system. However, in a week the story wont be the same. I will have to take over the reins from Sudhanshu and deliver the code according to new requirements.

Today the sun has come out and we had a walk outside our office. Mount Fuji was visible from a distance. It is visible only when the sky is crystal clear, a rare occassion during the winters. Today I plan to stay till a bit longer after office hours to finish some pending stuff. I might go to Tokyo tomorrow to attend a Satyam-Japan party. Have to cover lot of ground before that.
Its bye bye for now.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Reporting from "Land of the rising sun"

While attending japanese classes in TCS ILP, I never thought they would be so useful. Can't thank my sensei Mrudula san enough. Anyway, I left India for an assignment in Japan this saturday. It was a nice journey overall. Though I left alone I made few good friends through my journey. The trip till Kualalumpur was very silent and peaceful. It was a 3 and a half hour flight me seated next to a buddhist nun (who, I thought was a little boy till we reached KL).

On reaching KL one person (Mr. Reddy) spoke to me just out of curiosity as I flew with him from Bangalore. He turned out to be a very close friend of my neighbour, very helpful and interesting copassenger. From the transit time in KL airport to landing in Narita we spoke about lot of interesting topics related to the commonalities between us ie. Bangalore and IT industry. The conversation revolved around cricket, travelling and his advice about most things we spoke about was really helpful. Especially, about his previous experiences in Japan.

On landing in Narita(international airport just outside Tokyo), I had to complete more formalities related to immigrations and customs since it was my first entry into Japan. Thats where I lost track of Mr. Reddy as he had to go in another direction from Narita.

While getting out of the Narita airport I met another guy (Vijay) who was coincidentally travelling to the same client office from the same company. He recognised me when he saw my file. We left to Atsugi(my current location) together in the limousine. It was an almost 2 hr drive. via Tokyo. I slept through most of the journey. From what I remember it was the silence and cleanliness of Japan that struck me. Seeing is believing. This country has a higher density of population than India but everything looked so well managed. I hope to see India in that shape one day. On reaching Atsugi the biggest chalenge was getting to my hotel as nobody understood English. First we met a chinese gentleman who understood a bit of english. He had limited knowledge about the address we were looking for though. Then we asked a japanese gentleman in Japanese(Hoteru Parkin wa doko desu ka?), he couldnot remember the address. Immediately he rang someone and found the directions and walked with us till our accomodation. I was pleasently surprised by the helping nature and the attitude of solving a problem on hand come what may. In the last 24 hrs in Japan I have seen this attitude so many times. On reaching the hotel I had a bath and hit the bed.

Vijay and I had a deal last night that we would go out together we would checkout some places this morning. We both slept almost till 11 in the morning and woke up by Indian standard time. I was supposed to have my breakfast in my hotel before 9 30 in the morning, I missed it. I spoke to Vijay around 12 noon that we can meet in an hour. Meanwhile, I went out to have a look around my hotel. It was a nice walk where I lost my way and a policeman helped me get back home. I also tried some coffee. On reaching back to the hotel I met Vijay and we decided to have our lunch and go to Yokohama.

We found an Indian restaurant "Neel Gagan" in the lane behind our hotel. We had a very good meal all of 750 Y each. It was a very satisfying meal. Then we left to the hon Atsugi railway station. We took a train to Ebina(the next stop). We caught the rapid train to Yokohama. We got to Yokohama in one and a half hour. Had a good look around the countryside. Actually I think there is no countryside in Japan. Wherever you go there are so many people. And everybody seams busy and life moves without any problem. The roads, railway network and people are all moving mike machines. Extreme form of discipline I had never seen or practiced ever in my life.

We reached Yokohama around 3 45 in the afternoon. First we checked out the downtown around the Yokohama station. It was a very busy area but very well managed. Every third building was a restaurant and every shop was crowded. We went around taking peoples directions basically moved around aimlessly. I found every single person we spoke to very courteous. Everybody made us feel us like we are the guests of their country.

Next we took a train to the Yokohama stadium/park. This looked like the main part of the city. The top companies of Japan had their offices located there. There were some architectural beauties and the park was also a great sight. Before going to the park we went to the china town about 500 mts from the Yokohama park. There we could understand how the Chinese are different from the japanese. It was a very lively area. Main business over there is the food business. Every other shop is either chinese restaurant or a bar. On reaching the park, we took a number of pictures in front of those lovely buildings and in the park near the harbour. Then we took the cruise from the harbour back to the Yokohama station.

Overall it was a very eventful day considering it was the first day in this country. The best part is I got acquainted to this alien land and got rejuvenated before going to the office tomorrow. And met a friend who will accompany me to office. I hope rest of my stay in Japan is as much fun as today was. How my work and life shapes up in Japan time will tell and I will post the events on this blog as they happen.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"Benson'd & Bucknor'd" the order of the day

Having seen many new words and phrases like "Bangalore'd" added to the dictionaries and our vocabularies over the last few years, I feel Benson'd & Bucknor'd should be the latest addition, Especially after the Sydney test match in the ongoing India-Australia cricket test series. The match has been full of umpiring errors. One off lapse can be termed human error but as James Bond once said "Once is chance, twice is coincidence and more is enemy action". More so, when the error has favoured only one of the competitors.

When the Indians were bowling Ponting and Symonds benifitted by poor decissions early in their innings. Especially Symonds got a reprieve when on 30 and went on to score a big hundred. To add insult to injury he admitted at the day end press conference that he had nicked it. The very next day when Harbhajan Singh and Sachin Tendulkar were fighting to bat India out of trouble, an exchange of words between Symonds and Harbhajan took place(very common in cricket these days). On the face of it looked like a friendly fire. The Australian team complained about Harbhajan's comments being racist. They found the word monkey to be racist(if Harbhajan actually said that). I remember, Symo had warned India of a "searing hot Australian summer" earlier this year when they played ODI's in India(maybe just a coincidence).

I remember few years back Glenn McGrath called Sanath Jayasuriya a "black monkey". That appeared in the papers no action by ICC or anybody. Perhaps, we Indians, Paki's, Bangladeshi's and Srilankan's still have a colonial hangover and dont want to raise these silly issues especially against the gora's. Reminds me of a famous urdu couplet " Hum aah bhi bharte hain to hojate hain badnaam, Wo karte hain khatle aam aur charcha bhi nahi hota"(tough to translate this in english)

That was earlier in the test match. This morning I have not slept after my morning prayers just to see India fight and win this test match. I was happy till I saw Saurav and Rahul play a fighting innings till Rahul was given out caught behind. The ball might have nicked the pad the bat being miles away. Gilchrist went up immediately and Mr. Bucknor had no hestation in raising his finger. It was the same Gilly so well known for walking away whenever he felt he was out. I wonder is being honest only a virtue when you are winning? Mr. Honest of cricket let everybody down. Yuvraj got out two balls later. It was a close one but the replays showed it was out and Yuvi walked(no doubts there).

Next shocker was the decission of Sourav being caught on slip by Clarke off Brett Lee. Sourav nicked it and the ball clearly fell short of Clarke. He went up right away having taken a bump ball. To everybodies surprise Mr Benson clarified with Ponting if it was out. The same Ponting who stood his ground earlier in the test match when he nicked a ball down the legside straight into Dhoni's gloves. I wonder is the fielder ever credible enough for an umpire to take a decission. He should have consulted the square leg umpire then the TV umpire. But these umpires seam hell bent on making a big blooper out of this test match.

I can see this Benson & Bucknor factor everywhere in the world. Be it the war for petrodollars or politics anywhere in the world. Injustice seams to be the order of the day. Sometimes I wonder if its the colour of your skin, nationality or your faith that determines the degree to which you get justice. I experienced that while getting my US visa. But thats another story.

I can only pray to God that we are "all" guided towards truth, justice and fairplay. Lets say Ameen to that.

PS: I wrote this while watching the last session of the test match. Michael Clarke just took the last wicket and Australia win by 122 runs. They have won 16 tests in a row(a world record). Indian team is disappointed but there is much more to this match than what the scoreboard reads.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Naya saal nayi naukri...

It has been a very happy new year so far. It is a new beginning in a number of ways. There were some very tough decissions taken last year because of which I am in the current situation. It was not an easy decission to resign from a company like TCS. Many of my friends asked me to reconsider my decission. But now that I have taken the decission I better not look back.

I joined Satyam at the Sheshadripuram office on Jan 2nd. It was full of paperwork. But was not as tedious as when I joined TCS(I had no work experience then). Today I reported at the electronic city campus. Rode my bike to the office. Its the longest bike ride for sometime now. It was fun, though the road and traffic has deteriorated since I went there, the last time. I was expected to sit in the library while my workstation was being setup. I used the opportunity to go through some interesting internal documents, mainly about working in the different countries where Satyam has its business. It is interesting to learn about different countries/cultures.

It felt very nostalgic, as right opposite my satyam office is the first TCS office I reported to. Brought back memories of 2005 January when I had joined TCSBTS(earlier known as phoenix global solution, it was acquired by TCS around then). It was my first job and I travelled on the same bike, on the same highway but to the building facing my current office.

I did nothing the whole day and mostly thinking about my old company and friends. Like they say "idle mind is devils workshop". I feel looking back is alright but to get stuck in the past is terrible. Though the first job is very special till you move on you wont realise its worth.

Now that Ive put the past behind, its high time I enjoy and perform in the present so that my future is a result of this effort. Have to get back to office in the morning. I have lost practice of leaving to work early having worked for a US customer for more than a year now. Guess I can say now for sure, its a new year and a new beginning.