Back in Japan

•November 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I am back in Japan and I am amazed to see that I have not blogged since the last time I was in Japan i.e. 4 years ago. I must find time to document my time in Japan and keep a record of my mis-adventures here.

I have often complained about not having enough information about Japan in English and not having enough travelers’ diaries to plan my day trips around Tokyo. As Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in the world”, I think I should start documenting the little I travel within Tokyo and in other parts of Japan.

With that in mind, I will make a sincere attempt to document my visits to the restaurants, cafes, izakayas, museums, art galleries and other random places including parks and streets. I am not sure if many people could benefit from that but if anyone can benefit from that, that would certainly give me feeling of satisfaction. I would also appreciate if people would give me their recommendations in Tokyo.

While we are the subject, it is important to mention that the autumn season is in full swing in Japan. It often surprises me (pleasantly) how beautifully each weather is celebrated in Japan. Of course, people in each country have their own ways to celebrate changing weathers but what puts Japan in a different league is how everyone, including consumer goods companies, come together to maximise the celebrations. You will see season specific limited edition beers, cakes, lunch boxes, and even the convenience stores are decorated in the themes of the current weather. If you are anywhere in Japan now (and certainly in Tokyo), you can see how every place is celebrating autumn. Starting from autumn special lunch and dinner menus at almost all the fine dines in Tokyo, the bentos have autumn themed ingredients and virtually every beer company has a limited edition autumn themed beer that tastes completely different from their regular beer. The trains and stores have autumn themed decorations and special packages are available at JR stations to enjoy autumn beauty of certain regions and cities of Japan such as Kyoto special package (a city that is known internationally for its autumn beauty).

As I am blogging again, or so I hope, I will make sure to take some pictures around Tokyo to showcase how autumn is being celebrated here. BTW we are about to enter into Christmas frenzy very soon. In fact, Tokyo mid-town is said to have already entered that phase but more on that soon.

 

MakeMyTrip.Com has the worst Customer Care? Well, so far!

•October 26, 2011 • 2 Comments

I have been booking my flight and train tickets online for a long time now. I find it one of the most convenient ways to arrange your travel without having to visit that Agent’s office anymore or standing in those humongous queues outside the Railway Stations/Air India offices. Online booking is just way too convenient and I am way to lazy to run around to book a ticket. I mean, you are paying money to travel and wasting your time running around to book your ticket is not the premium you want to add to the price.

However, there are some travel portals that are just too classy for their own good and love to operate the traditional style. I mean, what’s the fun in booking your flight ticket from the comfort of your air-conditioned room with the help of the technology that is meant to add to the comfort of human beings? What a Nut! People flying in Economy Class are a “Cattle Class” anyways. Wouldn’t you Agree? Well, MakeMyTrip.com couldn’t agree more with that. They don’t just agree with this statement but they also make every effort in their reasonable powers to help their customers getting used to the “Cattle Class” even before boarding the flight. So much is their Customer Care team dedicated to cause that they give you the “Inconvenience Trial” at the time of canceling your flight ticket as well. Well, sometimes they are kind enough to extend that trial into a full movie. After all, their motto is to provide you with “memories unlimited”. Eh?

I have never waited for more than 30-40 minutes in the notoriously long queues outside our Sarkari Railway Reservation Centers to book my train ticket; but MakeMyTrip’s Customer Care was adamant on extending their services to facilitate an online queue of more than 2 hours to keep me waiting just to connect with the so called “Mother F^%*ing Concerned Person” who would be kind enough to cancel my flight ticket by deducting half the price of my ‘Refundable’ ticket in the name of the Airline (of course) in another 30 minutes. Of course, the confirmation of which would reach me after 30 hours; who cares about the promise of the “within 24 hours confirmation”? Stop Dreaming, Sir! This ain’t No Sarkari Office; We are the Private Babus.

Oh before I forget, they, I mean our The Forever Classy MakeMyTrip.com, have successfully introduced the “Retro” theme for cancellation of international flight tickets. Oh ya, you heard it right; the special retro package allows you to Not Being Able to Cancel Your International Flight Tickets Online without contacting their Warm and Friendly Customer Care either through Phone or Chat. How could they let you off the hook without having a li’l (oh no, not being sarcastic, just 2 hours!) chit-chat? No Sir, please allow us the opportunity to help you with the experience of a lifetime. Of course, it is an experience of a lifetime because you dare not forget it or have the courage to repeat it.

Well, what more can I say about our friends at MakeMyTrip? They were just awesome enough to send me their feedback form exactly after one week (industry standard is ‘right after’ contacting the Customer Care). Well, do they care about your feedback? They would have closed down the company by now if they did. Well, some would say, “they did close down their Customer Care Centers, didn’t they?” Well, I was going to re-book my flight ticket from Osaka to New Delhi through them but, unfortunately for them, I was not dumb enough to use them again. Alas! Back to my usual favourite ClearTrip.

P.S. Still waiting for the “Call Back within 24 Hours” from your senior staff as promised by “Asha Rana” at 08:50:12 AM IST on 11-October-2011.

Please feel free to nominate your candidate for the Annual Award of “Worst Customer Care Service Providers” Or should we call it the “Classical Customer Care Awards”?

Sendei Tsunami and New Heights of Shamelessness by International Media

•March 23, 2011 • 2 Comments

It was an unfortunate day as the massive tsunami caused by biggest earthquake in 140 years hit the North East region of Japan. Japan is not new to earth-quakes as more than a 1000 earthquakes hit Japan every year, which would mean 3 earthquakes on an average everyday. Japan can take earthquakes easily and no damage is ever done to the infrastructure. However, this one was big even for Japan. The damaged nuclear power plant added to the injury and pain. However, the biggest enemy seemed to be international media; they left no stone unturned to scare the shit out of the world. I always thought Indian media was out of their mind but this time it was everyone.

Christmas came early for AAJ TAK and INDIA TV as the nature wreaked ruins on Japan. International media also sold the reputation and soul of Japan to make some moolah in this time of crisis. Thanks to the media half of the international students and other expats had to go back home as the parents and relatives freaked out thinking the whole of Japan was contaminated and polluted with radiation from the Fukushima power plant.

Media needs to understand their role in the society; they need to understand that they are not an entertainment channel but a mirror to the society. Their concern for Japan was not genuine and if they had one, they would help Japan in this time of crisis than inflicting more pain and injuries to it. From calling Tokyo a ‘ghost town’ to the self generated advisories like ‘leave Japan while you still have time’ to ‘Japan has one more day left’ while sitting in their swanky offices abroad, British media, along with media companies of Eastern Europe sold the very spirit of media and mankind just for a few extra bucks. I can proudly say,”Shame on you, International MEDIA.”

 

 

 

 

 

Plum Blossom at Dazaifu

•March 2, 2011 • 3 Comments

Dazaifu Shrine

Finally, I went to Dazaifu this weekend. Known for its shrine and National Museum, Dazaifu is a small tinsel town just 30 mins by train from Fukuoka city. It was a slightly grey rainy day; probably not the best day to visit Dazaifu, but Plum-blossom is awesome any given day. Got 1000 yen pass from Tenjin JR station that covers two way journey and traditional Dazaifu style tea set on arrival. It always amazes me how Japanese people celebrate every cultural event with enthusiasm and so religiously, no matter how small the significance of that event may be. It’s the commitment and zeal that matter and not how significant the event is. Fortunately, there was a cultural play going on at the shrine when we arrived and the involvement of Japanese people in the play was really intense as they really seemed connected to it.

Well, I was more than happy to see the shrine during Plum-blossom; Japanese students are very regular to the shrine, esp. after exams because that’s the place where they go to pay obeisance and pray for good marks in exams.

It’s a beautiful shrine, and I totally loved my first plum-blossom in Japan.  People seemed excited to see gaijins in the shrine; gaijin is Japanese word that literally means an alien. The term is used to refer to foreigners but I doubt if it’s a racist word. Kenji, our Japanese friend, knew one of the priests and it helped us get a special treatment in the shrine. We got the special blessings from the priest and so many gifts as well including good luck souvenirs and plum wine made in the traditional Dazaifu style by the shrine. Well, being a gaijin does have its benefits 🙂

I don’t usually go to the museums but since we had travelled to Dazaifu, I decided to go the National Museum as well. The newly constructed museum is amazingly beautiful to say the least. The biggest attraction and surprise for me was the big collection of antiques, statues and other stuff from India; made me feel proud in front of my friends.

Well, my spring vacation is on till end of March. I’ll surely be travelling a lot more in a week’s time and hopefully I’ll be able to write down those memories here.

Serendipity

•January 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hakata Wharf

I feel stupid for not exploring the hidden beauty of the wharf just across the street from my place.  I didn’t even realize that the main the wharf across the street is the main Hakata Wharf, which makes it as important as Gateway of India in Mumbai. Yup! I live in a freaking posh area 🙂 But I didn’t know that until this weekend. Actually, I do have a reasonable excuse for my ignorance: First, I didn’t know there was a wharf and Second, It’s so windy and cold across the street. The other day when I discovered it, the temperature was -2 degrees and I found it because I wanted to see snow on the beach. It’s kind of weird because It would never snow in the coastal cities in India but here it does, right across the street. Coming back to my excuse, the ‘Feels Like’ factor suggested it to be -8 degrees due to strong winds. The point I am making is that it’s freaking cold there. Lol

Cafe at Hakata Wharf

Let’s talk about the place. It’s a beautiful wharf where I can catch a ferry to various islands (I think including Okinawa and Korea too). I would have better knowledge about it soon when I start making my voyagers in East Asia during the holidays in March. The wharf has a beautiful (and Warm) indoor shopping market, a cultural center, medium size aquarium (it has sharks too), and loads of reasonably priced Japanese/Korean food restaurants. I think I have found my hangout area for summers already; can’t wait for the summers now 🙂

 

Shark Shopping Saturday

•January 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

Went to the Fukuoka Fish Market in the morning this Saturday and it was totally worth it. It was Maryka’s idea to visit the fish market since it’s not open to public in general except on special days. I, usually, don’t like visiting fish markets and the very obvious reason is because the strong fish stench is intolerable. Fukuoka fish market is unique in the sense it has the variety of sea food that can be seen almost in no other fish markets; Sharks on sale is what was the main attraction. I didn’t even know one could buy a shark till I came to Japan. I saw Japanese parents bringing their small kids to the market; I guess, they just want their children to learn about Japanese sea food culture and the way of Japanese life. I saw small kids tasting the raw Octopus and approving of the taste before their parents made the decision to buy a particular Octopus.  It was a fun trip with friends and these kinds of small moments make the life in Japan memorable.

The Ugly Fight between Congress and BJP

•December 20, 2010 • 2 Comments

One is pseudo secular party and the other is attempting to be secular but gets its ideologies confused every time it makes a serious attempt to do that. The war of words between the main two political parties in India is bringing shame to India and affecting it’s image world wide. How far will Congress go to achieve it’s political motives? How much damage to the common man’s beliefs, confidence, morals, values and life these political parties have to cause in order to satisfy their own political motives? The behavior of Congress party in the recent few weeks have made me believe that they won’t think twice to sell the lives of common Indians in order to satisfy their never ending hunger for power. When it comes to selling the image and future of this great nation, who else can perform that task better than the family that has been responsible for ruining the past of this country? I don’t want to make a point here that the Congress proclaimed radical party of India is any better for our country; I am just thoroughly disgusted and ashamed at the current political affairs of my great nation.

I am a proud Indian and will always be. I am proud of the great heritage, tradition, cultural and linguistic diversity of my country. The people in India know the life like no one else in this world. We are one of the very few civilisations in the world that are capable of feeling life and priortising emotions over any other materialistic thing on earth.

The great nation of a billion plus people is truly great because it has the capacity to absorb sorrow, pain and wars. It has always been like this and a mere glimpse of any history book will support this claim. But my question is, ’till how long?’ How much more do we need to see; how much more do we need to tolerate? The ruling party and of course all the other parties as well just care about their greed for power and personal gains. I just want to live peacefully in my country and I don’t think if I am asking for too much from the rulers of this great nation. Please stop dividing us; please stop killing us on the name of religion, caste, creed and colour. We have had enough.