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.