Friday, January 28, 2011

It happens only in Japan

       I was in Tokyo for some time last year. Any one who has been there would concur that it is an amazing country. On my first day in office I went for lunch with an Indian colleague who has been in Japan for about nine years. As we walked across the street, I started the conversation, "This place is so wonderful, this is like..."
      "Ram Rajya", he pre-empted me. Frankly, I wasn't looking for this word but it describes Japan in just one word, at least to his mind. In this light, I thought of listing things that possibly happen only in Japan.
  1.  Although Japan is a developed nation for decades now, English is still scarcely used and most people don't know it. Even in big super markets, you will be lucky if you can communicate with even broken English. Once, when I was speaking to a local I said a sentence and used the conjunction "which", she completely lost me. She repeated the word and her face read ??????????? Even after a few months of stay, my local grocer still could not find anything I asked him. It didn't take me long to realize how interesting it can get, when I lost my way the very first day.
  2. One of the colleagues narrated how he once lost his wallet and to his surprise got it back after two days, with all his belongings of course. A few other people have had similar experience, he added. 
  3. People are naturally programmed to form queues. At every place where there are more than one person (including the case where there are only two), the person coming later creates a queue by standing after the first. Easy to see this while boarding train, climbing stairs after de-boarding the train,  waiting for the elevator.
  4. Japanese would avoid speaking at public places and more so on trains. It is a rare to see people talking on mobile, while on train. Normally, people would just read something, work on their gadgets or simply sleep. 
  5. It is really hard to find ATMs and if you have a travel card from India, only god can help. I was thinking it was just me as I am a tourist. But I was proved wrong very soon when I saw a veteran colleague taking some time to find one. Even after a few months of stay, I knew only a handful places to get the cash. 
  6. Japan is an economy of hard cash - no plastic money please. There are a few who accept credit cards but debit card is a strict no-no. One day we went for team drinks. After we were done with one of the pubs,  we moved to another. But, before we could get there, we stopped at a cash machine so my manager can withdraw enough cash for the ensuing drinks.
  7. It is easy to see people with masks on their faces. Why?? Because they don't want to spread the disease (flu) they are suffering from.
  8. I would also add this, because I just hate this: McDonalds do not sell Vegetarian burgers. It took me sometime to explain to them what do I mean by a veg burger.
  9. Comics are a big hit in this land. Age no bar, sex no bar.