Friday, May 30, 2008
That said, when I heard the news, my first reaction was “No! What about the food!” since I am no expert in Chinese geography but for me the Sichuan area is closely associated with the best Chinese food! The Sichuan region is famous for the spicy dishes, a bit different from the (in my opinion) slightly boring Cantonese or Peking Chinese food. With China being a significant presence in the region the disaster obviously got a lot of media attention from Japanese news.
Although there has been no lack of serious and detailed reporting about the human tragedy of this event, some other news has been exploring this event from other directions. In consulting we used to call this “capturing it from another angle” and my favorite so far is the TV news that very seriously reported on how this event might have an impact on the supply of spices used in making the delicious Mapo Dofu dish that is very popular here in Japan (although in a slightly bland version compared with the spicy real deal). In the light of possibly 70,000 dead this important aspect of the tragedy really needs to be explored further and efforts should be put in to secure alternate routes to ensure that we, the inhabitants of the Japanese island, do not have to go without Mapo Dofu for any extended time! Surely this tragedy is bad enough as it is?
…the cynical part of me can’t help but thinking that this event came very timely for the Chinese regime, diverting attention from their questionable actions in Tibet and disregard for basic human rights that came into focus with the Olympic drawing closer…
Thursday, May 29, 2008
It was in the aftermath of the US war of aggression/liberation of Iraq (take your pick between the two or somewhere in between), Japan sent a regiment of troops to assist in peacekeeping efforts under U.N. coordination, something that was highly controversial in Japan since Japanese troops on foreign soil can be a very sensitive subject among some of Japan’s neighbors and in national politics. Be that as it may, the troops were sent in 2004 and put up camp in the outback of Iraq .
A Japanese television news team was there to document the historical event and I clearly remembered the reporter talking about the harshness of the Iraq desert and the condition that the troops had to live under. He emphasized how water was scarce and had to be utilized efficiently and then he dropped the bomb: "Water is so scarce here that they can’t even wash the rice before they cook it!”"
It hit me like a ton of bricks as I sat in my comfortable apartment watching the news on my flat widescreen TV purchased with salaryman money. The true horror of war... Not even enough water to wash the rice before cooking it! My view on war will never ever be the same...
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
As faithful readers might recall, I recently visited a close friends wedding, be that as it may, but one of the things I find highly offensive and very very disturbing was seen there. The use of Bluetooth headsets for the mobile phone and people that leave the headpiece on when doing other stuff. This usage of headsets annoys me immensely! I do understand it if you work in telemarketing a switchboard or somewhere where your job is using the phone. But wearing one on private time, for private purposes and not even taking the stupid thing off during the God-Jesus damned wedding ceremony?!
In Japan , this is thankfully not very usual at all and most sensible Japanese people use the headset when it serves a purpose, such as driving a car or somewhere when it’s inconvenient to operate the phone with one hand. However, in Europe , this vile habit is widespread and it’s not unusual to see someone apparently talking to himself, gesturing with both hands setting off the “crazy people alarm” inside my head and then see that he/she has one of those stupid things in the ear…
The takeaway message of this little post? What’s the “so what factor” here? Well, it’s pretty simple; don’t do it!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
According to hearsay, a senior person in a consultant company here in Tokyo who has been living in another country for some time, is considering moving back and is busy preparing for this. This also means that a loved nasty dog also needs to come back. In order to avoid three long months of horrible quarantine he hoped to avoid that by having all the paperwork in order, that all the shots had been taken etc.
Unfortunately, this was not the case and the Japanese authorities acted as any authority would’ve. They asked for the paperwork to prove that everything was in order. The person realized this and did what any reasonable person would do; he bought a domestic vet off to produce the required documents retroactively to a modest cost of around $200 USD.
Well, so far so good you might think, we have forgery already checked, but better stuff is coming!
Then, he decided that he didn’t want to pay this himself, so he invoiced a (completely unrelated) client this sum and decided that he wanted a little on top of this and added a $100 for good measure…
Then he realized that this too might not be enough, so he puts a team in the office together to produce material (in the great “Power Point” format) to prove that the Japan laws are stupid and why his dog should be allowed into the country. Not realizing that a Japanese official is pretty resistant against power points and would very likely throw him out than listen to a presentation without proper procedure being followed.
Well, as you might have got, nothing of this is confirmed or proven; really, it’s just rumors and slander. But if you should use a management consultant in Tokyo , my advice to you would be to check the receipts for expenses…
Friday, May 23, 2008
A fellow old friend of me and the groom had similar feelings as me and, as the only guests at the wedding, we booked ourselves into a nearby reasonable hotel. The trip down was relatively uneventful, drinking beer and wine together and visiting the local restaurants for another beer at the frequent changes and long waits for the connecting train. But we had plenty of stuff to catch up on, so it was more enjoyable than anything else.
So, we safely end up at the hotel and we check in to our separate rooms. It looks nice enough, a bit country, but that’s just local flavor. My friend heads up to his room on the second floor and I go to get settled into my room on the first floor. To my surprise I find out that the door is open and when I go into the room I first think there’s been a mistake of some kind. The room looks barren, there’s a small bed in the corner and the compulsory hotel furniture (desk and chair) awkwardly scattered in the pretty large and barren room. The view consists of the yard of the hotel with full insight for people that enter and leave the hotel.
I leave the room and head up to my friends room to share that bottle of Polish (or something) mead that he has given alluding promises of. I enter his room and see a very large and nice bed and a beautiful view of the neighboring lake and a beautiful sunset with no possibility of insight from anywhere. I should also add to the story that I booked my room a full week before him who just booked it the day before. As you can understand this annoys me a little and when we later head for the reception to order a taxi the following exchange takes place, and as always, feel free to act this conversation out with an old friend, relative or long lost lover:
Mr. Salaryman: (Devilishly friendly voice) Oh, and one more thing, by the way, is there any difference between our rooms (pointing at friend)
Receptionist: (Slightly defensively without any hesitation) Yes, he has a bigger bed
Mr. Salaryman: (Played amused surprise) I see, well, I’d like that too please
Receptionist: (Pretending to look through ledgers) We only have two rooms with such beds and they’re all taken…
Mr. Salaryman: Aha…?
Receptionist: (Defensively joking) Well, if it helps, I can downgrade him to a small bed?
Mr. Salaryman: (Gleeful) Yes, yes please, I’d like that very much!
Friend: (Jumping in, slightly nervous and worried about the turn of the conversation) Hey, wait a minute!
Mr. Salaryman: Well?
Receptionist: (Slightly scared) You’re getting a bit agitated about this…
Mr. Salaryman and Friend: (laughing) Well, ok, nevermind, thanks anyway
I had no intention of intimidating a poor receptionist just trying to do her job and both me and my friend thought I didn’t come out as aggressive but my friend jokingly suggested that I should’ve taken the conversation to the next level by suggesting that racial prejudice had played a part in me getting the crappy room since I have a non-swedish sounding family name and dark hair. But that might have caused the poor girl a stroke, so we didn’t pull through with that one, but in hindsight, maybe that would have resulted in even more hilarity.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Now, since I’m European and has rudimentary understanding of most of the major languages here in Europe I can sometimes somehow understand what they want when they ask me questions or talk to me in their foul language. However, since I can’t speak French I always need to answer in English making the conversations pretty odd with both parties trying to pull the other one to speak the other language. But I don’t budge so they play a futile game.
Just one day of meetings with French “colleagues” (I tend to see them as enemies) to endure and then it’s back to the land of the rising sun!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
But it has a cross and it's pink! This is a definite collectors item and it goes for 9,800JPY (aprox. $100USD). Believe me when I said that I would buy it, but since I'm leaving Japan tomorrow morning I can't do the bank transfers and stuff so instead I share my discovery with you, my faithful readers!
Check it out! The auction expires at 10:41am tomorrow May 8 Japan time! Edit: Just saw that the person selling it has reposted the great product and it`s now going until May 15!