Showing posts from June, 2015

Japan Visit- Memories

Japan runs on 100 volts. Not 220 like India, nor 110 like the U.S. And has mostly two-pin plug points, vertically rectangular. Just in case you visit Japan, carry an adapter or you will have to remain gadgetless for the duration of your stay- not such a bad thing, actually, you might enjoy the scenery and culture a little more.

Another thing ubiquitous in Japan is chopsticks. It is hard to find spoons and forks in some restaurants, so folks like me have to try and use what's there-chopsticks! Not a bad idea to learn how to, if you wish to enjoy your eating outings.

An umbrella we carried also proved providential, as it poured continuously the first day we were there. Of course you can buy one, if you have the yen for it. There are convenience stores which sell almost everything, from toothpaste to whisky. Family Mart seems to be the major one, along with a couple of others.

Well-manicured trees and plants, in addition to people, seems like a speciality, with the gardens looking e…

Japan Experiences- Service

A recent trip to Japan resulted in several experiences, some unique, and most very good. I will share two service experiences because Indians will find both different, if not strange.

As we waited for the ANA flight (Delhi-Tokyo Narita) to take off around midnight at Terminal 3, we saw a strange sight. All the stewardesses assembled in the seating area near the gate, and got into an animated discussion with each other about various things, related to the guests on board that flight. They were speaking in Japanese, but one could see the sincerity of purpose and dedication that they brought to the job. I have never seen anything like it before, so I was stupefied. We tend to take work -any work- a lot more casually out here.

The second was an experience at a local bank in Beppu, Japan. We went in around 9.30 in the morning into an empty bank, and asked to change a few dollars into Yen, the local currency. The procedure took almost twenty minutes, after what looked like several layers o…

The Jap in Me

Yeah, that's right. There's a Jap lurking within me. I like cleanliness. I like peace. I like aesthetic surroundings. The Japanese have all these in plenty. I am waxing eloquent due to a recent trip to Japan. Went for a conference to the small town of Beppu in Oita prefecture, south of all the well-known names in Japan.

The Japanese extravaganza lasted only six days, but left a lasting impact. The conference, of course, provided academic insights and networking opportunity, but something else also seems to have left a deep impact. The propensity for hard work without complaints, the neatness, the beauty that surrounds you everywhere, and the politeness. Just the politeness would fill volumes if I sat and wrote about it. Maybe another day. I will just put out a couple of pictures for now.

Jodhpuri Me

In boarding school at Hyderabad ages ago, we wore Jodhpuri coats for dinner as uniform. But only last week did I get to visit the place-Jodhpur, I mean, for a Ph.D. viva. Apart from the fact that my third Ph.D. student (in green below) finished his degree, I liked gallivanting in the place. There is also a place called Hanwant Mahal that is good for dinner, because you can get a lit up view of the city from there, including Jodhpur's two major attractions.

The Mehrangarh fort is majestic, and the Umaid Bhavan in the third pic below (part hotel, part residence and part open to visitors as a museum)

is a palace fit for kings. The airport is a military airport, small and well-maintained.People were nice, which needs special mention these days.

Dil Dhadakne Do- Short Review, Long Film

This film could have benefited from a good editor. At least, the message of the film would have got through. It's not a new message, either. That kids need to make their own choices, and khandan ki izzat (family pride, that priceless entity) can take a hike.

All the seventies Bollywood films pretty much had the same message, and some of them were more effective in communicating it. I agree the director gets to decide how to tell a story, but the narrative style is really boring and long-winded in this one, sorry to say.

Ho-hum, with a few good scenes which come late in the second half, after you have long given up. Avoid. And watch any seventies film instead.

Book Review- The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies

The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies is a fantastic idea. To cure all you conditions/ailments through an appropriate reading- of a novel. Ain't it novel? We may do so unwittingly, but this one tells you which books might work!I have read many of the prescriptions, and learnt a lot about books that I could read if I feel lonely, overworked, pessimistic, overly optimistic, tired, and many other conditions that are listed alphabetically in the book. A materia medica of sorts, which promises to cure almost anything you could suffer from. It is also subtitled Bibliotherapy, and is highly recommended for the sheer novelty of the idea.  From Murakami to Voltaire, the cures span a thousan years or more, and genres that you may have thought don't exist. The current Gray literature also finds a place, as a cure for something that does not need spelling out. A fun read!

Tanu Weds Manu Part 2- A Review

Watched this delightful film without having seen the first. And it was a laugh riot from scene 1 where husband and wife explain what went wrong with their four years of married life. I had expected this kind of fireworks from Shadi Ke Side Effects-that wish remained unfulfilled.

The rest of the film is also in the same vein, mainly due to the character of Pappi (Deepak Dobriyal) who with his amazing takes on various things steals the show from the lead actors, in my view. The others are good, but this guy is class! If I watch the film again, it'll be to watch his antics.

Kangana is good in both roles, and appears fairly different in the second. I personally don't agree with the choice made by Mr. (Madhavan) Sharma in the end, but what the heck, that's artistic license to disagree, and should not come in the way of enjoying a thoroughly enjoyable movie- not everyday that this happens.

The Art of Holidaying

I don't claim to be an expert, nor am I prescribing ten best ways to holiday. I am just listing out different ways to do it- a Holiday Sutra, if you will.

1. Do nothing most of the time. Great for relaxing the grey cells that are taxed more than any IT dept will ever tax you.

2. Play Golf and don't look at the scores at the end, especially your scores. The second part increases happiness hundred-fold. Ask me!

3. Drive somewhere-anywhere. It can be a liberating experience. A Flight would do the exact opposite, with too many restrictions. Even a lovely smile from the stewardess can't compensate.

4. Eat well and often. Try local stuff too. At least you'll find out how bad it is-or not.

5. Do one unusual thing-whatever it might be. In a trip to Leh, we went to a local unbranded coffee store cum library that was educational.

6. Window-shop to find out what locals buy- it's cheaper than shopping, and has all the fun minus the expense!

7. Don't answer mails for a few…