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.

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