Monday, July 31

Irene in full steam

Irene is getting crazy in her blogs these days. I was especially startled with the kind of expressions she used to explain simple things in her latest entry


talking doll - she says it means mouth
black marks on that white square whith that black sharped thing - hmm... filling up the credit card applications in black with a black pen
bark with ears - the doggie balloon doll she got from the credit card sales campaign corner

Friday, July 28

At the railway station

Waiting at the railway station is something that disturbs me a lot.

I donno why. The long waits in remote locations, especially when I am alone, I start thinking about what I will do next; where I will go etc. These are certain thoughts that I do not dare to tread into. Who am I to decide what I will do next. I have never planned anything beyond a month or two.

I remember once I visited a classmate and saw a small house-like structure next to her house.
"What is that?"
"That will be a clinic for my brother when he finishes his medical college"

That was looking ahead for 3 years. I can still remember how shocked I was. That probably was the first time the scare of planning ahead came into my mind. For no reason. I hope that did come true for her doctor brother. But for her, who always tried to present a nice dream about married life, preferred marriage and partner decide her career, who believed in dowry and did not want to marry without a dowry - the first married life was a failure.

The railway stations pull me into long gazes that has no end. I still remember those dreaded waits during my previous life in Japan. Many a times these will be after a visit to a no-longer-potential customer. What am I set for? Where is my promised life? I fail to locate. All I can see are those parallel lines that never converge. The solemn silence. People who are destined to wait. The vending machines begging for a few coins.

Looking at the rails, I feel that one of them is my fantasies and the other one is facts. I have been coming all the same way and still continuing the same way. At some points I could see them converging, but once I ride over them, sadly realize they were only crossing of paths. My fantasies and facts still run in parallel. The multicolor promises that stand alongside are mostly red. Once in a while they turn green and I need to rush. Looking into the future I mostly spy red lights everywhere. Some of them turns green and the moment I reach closer, they too turn red. How did I come all the way? The light posts of the past are turning their back on me. I cannot see them anymore. I can only the light above me. The light that has guided me so far. The light that has let me see the world around.

Even now, I don't know where I am headed to. Today is what I can see. Tomorrow is a blur. After that its all dark. I only trust the light that will rise up when tomorrow is over. The light that I can trust. This is the trust that many call faith. Some call it belief.

Wednesday, July 26

Japanese Muslims

Are there Japanese Muslims?

Yes, there are a lot. I would say most of them are at least 50% Muslims, if you can show me the 100% Muslims...

Do you mean most of them are Muslims? Do they pray five times a day, fast a month, ladies wear burqa, gents grow beard????

Sorry, I thought you just asked me if there are Muslims? You did not qualify your question this way.

Hmmm. .... but at least prayer is a must for a Muslim.

Yes, it is. For those who think they follow Islam, a must. But Japanese do not know Islam

But the purpose of creation of Man is to worship God...

True. Ibadat is the word that got translated into worship. Do you mean those people who pray 5 times all worship God? Do they really be "abd" of God? Do they really have iimaan - trust? I read a blog yday which says a nice story. An entire village assembled to pray for rains. One boy came with an umbrella. The blog author called it confidence. I will call it trust in God. The real iimaan.

Look at the way Japanese live. Even duing heavy traffic, they do not violate traffic rules. They trust the rules are for their own benefit. They have faith in the system. They can let their elementary school kids to go to school by themselves. Commuting on the Tokyo metro trains. And on the day the weather broadcast says it will rain in the afternoon, they carry their umbrellas. They respect others. Be it a chaufer, janitor, gate keeper or whoever. Respect is for the human. No caste, no colors, no job status matter in that. When the bus driver says it is dangerous to stand near the door (closed doors operated only by the driver) they respect him and move in.

Look at the harmony they maintain in public. In office or on the road or a restaurant. The way they overcome short term temptations for long term benefit - this is one of the things that religions want to achieve in trust in life after death. Do not think your actions are just until you die. There is life after death. For others around you and hence you.

So what is lacking?

Same thing that many of us are lacking. The harmony inside us. The harmony in public without internal harmony gives them a lot of stress. Which they relieve with long fumes of cigarrettes while office breaks. With heavy doses of alcohol after office hours. And all those society ills that you see. We dont get into that because we do not maintain that harmony in public life too. So less stress we have. Once Japanese achieve the internal harmony, I guess they become the real Muslims. And I believe Islam can help them understand how to achieve this. The prayers, the fasting and all worship modes are for achieving this harmony. The personal life commands are your responsibilities to the society. The public life rules are the rights of others. No religion teaches about your rights. There are only others' rights and your responsibilities.

Coming back to the purpose of creation. Yes, it is worship of God. Not only yours. Of the entire mankind. Your worship God when you respect, you love and you care for his creations. If you want others to look at your family with respect seeing you, you need to be a respectable character. If you want one to worship God, he should see a society that reflect a worshippable God. Thats the basic slogan of a Muslim - I bear witness that God is the only worship.

The problem is we do not yet know how to achieve the harmony in inner, private and public lives. The Nafsul Mutmainna looks so far for us. And we believe we are Muslims and we can teach them Islam!

Tuesday, July 25

Japan is changing

No I am not quoting FT BT or ET. Not quoting Bush or Koizumi san. Not even Japan Central Bank.

I saw it myself today. Right in my office building. When I was coming to office today.

There were 6 of us in the elevator. And believe me, all of us were folding a foldable umbrella! No one had that ubiquitious Japanese kalan kuda. Imagine the Japan without these umbrellas. The wooden handled ones. The gaudy extra long leather handled ones for the fairer sex. The throw-aways that they sell for the needy when it rains. All the colours - red, maroon, pink, blue, patterned and plain, the branded and unbranded.

I was thinking about this change when I walked in to my cubicle. And then again shocked seeing a colleague folding a four fold umbrella!

Indeed Japan is changing.

Monday, July 24

Safety, Peace and War

The ubiquitious autorikhsaws in Kerala is a cultural mirror. They always reflect the contemporary setting. With all autorikshaws bearing a name, many of them will be names of a recent movie. But one auto had a nice caption written instead of a name. It read
"In War, Everyone's right and No one left"

Now we have another war in progress. Great search tools cannot replace the tanks bullets and bombs searching for preys. Cannot help the so-called world leaders searching for root-causes. Numbers have been replacing souls. And the relative value of these numbers are attached to the nationality. 1 American, 2 Israelis, 100s of Iraqis, 200s of Lebanese.. so it goes. No one counts human being.

Ever thought of a little wonder called a heart that works so hard day and night to keep so many bones and muscles and so much of brain activity keep running and finally succumb to atrocities run by people powered by similar hearts?

Human life is lost in Lebanon. We have so much money being spent for protecting some rare species from extinction. Now, we have the very human life in danger. They are killing each other. And this is claimed to be to create peace. If war can bring peace, world would have been a peaceful place. Some people take the example of how Japan was tamed and how peace was created. Wrong. No one brought peace. There is no peace in Japan too. Othrewise why they should fear NKorea now?

Japan only followed the example of colonial powers. To become another colonial power. But these powers did not let them do that. And they claimed to have tamed Japan. aadine pattiyakki adichu kolluka. ennittu kayyadi vanguka. thats all

Bush has now blessed the war on Lebanon. Media is happy. They can run more and more stories. They can create stories on a bad leader. Write stories about his affluent lifestyle, his love for wine and women, his lust for blood etc. etc. The combodian rebel leader was referred as "Butcher" even when he died. How many people did he kill. Now, how many did Bush kill? Will the media dare to call Bush a butcher too?

You can have 100 armed soldiers around your house to protect you. You could be safe, but you are definitely not living in peace. We want peace and not just safety.

Sunday, July 23

The "sloppy" station along the Hakone cable car!

Kodaikanal of Japan

Last weekend we went for our honeymoon. The first ever fully personal stay over trip after weekend! Though planned at the 11th hour, it went pretty well. Day1 at fujii san kodomonokuni - interesting water play for kids. But Hakone really a whole world of its own.

Drive to hakone reminded the drive from Bangalore back home. The narrow raods through the forests - sans the frequent potholes. Nothing on the sides - no shops no homes no nothing. In one quick day, covered rope way, ship and cable car. The cable car climbing up was reall interesting. The "sloppy" railway stations makes it different from the Ootty Mettu narrowguage. The "real train" atmosphere contrasts from the pazhani cable car too.

Atmosphere in general in Hakone is probably Mercara or Kodai. Worth the trip.

Friday, July 21

Peace Prevaliing!

Japan says it can ask US to launch a pre-emptive strike on N.Korea. This is absolutely covered by right to self defense. And why else should Japan feed US army in their land? If you dont know, Japan can have only self defense forces and no military. As per US written post war constitution. Or hire the US goondas.

If N.Korea has weapons that can reach Japan, it is risky. This disrupts balance of power. If Japan can ask US (and pay) that is self defence. Listen carefully. Else you will confuse.

Blair goes on record telling Bush that he can say anything and get away. Which he admits Rice cannot do. What a proud statement of a mighty Britain! Shame on Her Majesty - the once Bharata Bhagya vidhatha.

Anyone knew Iraq is on the path of democracy? Which Russia is to learn from, as per Bush. Anyway Putin says they are not at all interested in such a democracy. Palestine is not democratic. They did vote and the elections were nuetral. But the party who won the election is not pro-US. Let US decide on the policy, president and the council of ministers. That will become democracy. Poor Lincoln.

Congress and BJP gets paid by CIA in India. LDP and the long dead opposition in Japan got paid by CIA. To keep the countries democratic. Once there was a shock wave in US after they learnt China poured in money to keep US democratic in one of the elections - which is a reserved domain for Israel.

India wins G8 condemn Bombay blasts. Big win. India stops peace talks with Pak. We will restart when there is complete peace. I thought peace talks are meant to create peace. Did not realise these are meetings done in peace. Get into business. People want to know what they can achieve with peace. Newspapers will have less reports of bomb blasts. Someone suggests India should go the US way to eliminate terror. Good advice. Start the blame game and it goes for ever. I dont think we can eliminate these with military.

Train and keep the military. Tsunami still round the corner and still a killer. Weather has been tough on Japan and Korea with heavy rains and Europe with extreme heat. Not sure about the poor souls in third world. CNN news was filled with the news of US citizens returning from Lebanon.

Thursday, July 20

That was a short break

Well, hope I am back.

Today Irene turned 7. I gifted her with a new blog for her. Through my little eyes. Let me see how she logs in there on her daily life. I stole the first entry as I did the trial last week. And the second entry when I put the welcome wish today.

Life has been slightly hectic and will remain so for a couple more days.

Friday, July 14

Varicose Vein

Varicose veins are veins on the leg which are large, twisted, and ropelike, and can cause pain, swelling, or itching.

Varicose veins result due to insufficiency of the valves in the communicating veins. These are veins which link the superficial and deep veins of the lower limb. Normally, blood flows from the superficial to the deep veins, facilitating return of blood to the heart. However, when the valve becomes defective, blood is forced into the superficial veins by the action of the muscle pump (which normally aids return of blood to the heart by compressing the deep veins).

So the doctor tells me not to sit for long time (boy, good reason to move around and take frequent coffee breaks in office) and to take long walks. So from now I plan to change my daily commute to bus. Makes me walk 10 min extra to office.

But, I might be late from office and too tired to walk till the bus stop. Or I might be early from office and might find too hot to walk.

May be I will soon develop a "bus" version of the Japanese art of sleeping-till-my-stop that I succesfully practise in train these days. Till then, I might be able to find some time to read and reflect.

Tuesday, July 11

US take on Italy vs France in Germany

An interesting piece from Byju. Guess how US commentators handle their audience to a live football (oh, sorry its a "soccer") game between Italy and France in Germany? Read this blog.
What else is the US take here..

Monday, July 10

A celebrity pic (that I missed)

Well, can I say this is a celebrity picture? Or, say, it could have been?

We were walking back from the park with the kids, and close to our apartment, we saw the roads are empty. There were three policemen standing at the crossing and no one was crossing the road, ignoring the green pedestian cross signal. Everyone was working on their multi-megapixel mobile phones. Not fully realising whats going on, I too pressed the camera button on my phone.

Then the motorcade appeared. A police car in the front, then the black royal car with two police motorcycles on the sides and a few on the rear, another couple of cars. Good view. I have never seen this in Japan. I aimed my camera and took the picture in 3M Pixels. Good. I thought.

Then the cars turned right and took the small road in front of us. The rear window of the black car was open and an old lady was waiving her hands. Everyone clicks their phones. Then my wife screamed "thats the Empress". I ended up taking just the picture of the motorcade!!

"Who's that, umma?" asked Irene
"Thats the empress of Japan"
"Who's an empress"
"Empress is the emperor's wife"
"oh.. so they are the rulers of whole Japan"
"Well, not exactly.. and almost never exactly...."

Thursday, July 6

4th of July Fireworks

North Korea has joined the US independance day Fireworks celeberations this year. With the test fire of a new long range missile.

"World" leaders are crying fowl. The new threat to world.


What is the interest for N Korea to attack any other country than S Korea and Japan. And if S Korea and Japan are not US dummies, why should they attack? And with no nuclear power supporting N Korea in the region, I feel this is just a regional balance, not an imbalance.

Well, I had decided not to bother about these silly issues. And not to spend my blog space for these....

Wednesday, July 5

30 Hour clock

It was funny how my fathers friend missed train he had reserved for to attend my sisters wedding. He reserved for the train leaving a Saturday night from Alwaye station. Time of departure: Late night. Precisely, 12:40 midnight

He goes there with family to board the train on Saturday night, checks the reservation chart and his name was not there. Ticket looks perfect. Date is correct, train is correct. Why this happened? Railway officials explained that his train actually left already. Saturday early morning 00:40. Or Friday night 12:40.

The 24 hour clock did not help him. I always get into confusion when I setup meetings on Outlook calendar. 12:30 is noon or late night??

I have found the way TV Program listings in Japan solved the issue very interesting. They have a clock starting 06:00 Hrs running till 30:00 Hrs. For guys who want to stay late and watch TV, they don't have to turn back the page. Worldcup match on Jun 17 in Germany do not get live broadcast on Jun 18 (01:00AM), but on the same day, Jun 17, but at 25:00 Hrs. This is not just interesting, it is really useful. Why the hell is day changing so stealthily in the mid of the night, when everyone is supposed to be sleeping and nothing specific happens in nature - other than so many clocks will be striking in full length disturbing people who want to enjoy a nice sleep? Who designed this clock?

I guess the early middle-east clock was correct. Sun set. Day closed. A new day. If there is a new moon, a new month too. The first twelve hours is what we call night. The second 12 hours will be what we call the day. That's why Jesus asked "Are there not 12 hours in a day?" For the normal 12 hour clock, mid of the clock is either mid of the day or mid of the night. If you offset the 30 Hrs Japanese clock to start at 00:00, you get back to this.

I have read about how calendars were evolved and invented, how Christmas was created in December etc. Never heard about who created the stealth clock that changes day in the mid of the night. Can anyone help me?

Tuesday, July 4

Never too late

Does it really want to have someone like Narayana Murthy come up with an initiative to chase away the late night slogger software engineers back home? Probably yes. Read the following mail from Murthy. At a minimum "I have nothing else to do" is a very dangerous situation to start with.

It's half past 8 in the office
but the lights are still on...
PCs still running,
coffee machines still buzzing...
and who's at work?
Most of them??? Take a closer look...
All or most specimens are 20-something male species of the human race...
Look closer... again all or most of them are bachelors...
and why are they sitting late? Working hard? No way!!!
Any guesses???
Let's ask one of them...
Here's what he says... "What's there 2 do after going home... here we get to surf, AC, phone, food, coffee.. thats is why I am working late...
importantly no bossssssss!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the scene in most research centers and software companies and other off-shore offices.
Bachelors "time-passing" during late hours in the office just bcoz they say they've nothing else to do...
Now what r the consequences... read on...
"Working"(for the record only) late hours soon becomes part of the institute or company culture.
With bosses more than eager to provide support to those "working" late in the form of taxi vouchers, food vouchers and of course good feedback,(oh, he's a hard worker... goes home only to change..!!).They aren't helping things too...
To hell with bosses who don't understand the difference between "sitting" late and "working" late!!!
Very soon, the boss start expecting all employees to put in extra working hours.
So, My dear Bachelors let me tell you, life changes when u get married and start having a family... office is no longer a priority, family is... and that's when the problem starts... becoz u start having commitments at home too.
For your boss, the earlier "hardworking" guy suddenly seems to become a "early leaver" even if u leave an hour after regulartime... after doing the same amount of work.
People leaving on time after doing their tasks for the day are labeled as work-shirkers...
Girls who thankfully always (its changing nowadays... though) leave on time are labeled as "not up to it". All the while, the bachelors pat their own backs and carry on "working" not realizing that they r spoiling the work
culture at their own place and never realize that they wuld have to regret at one point of time.

*So what's the moral of the story?? *
* Very clear, LEAVE ON TIME!!!
* Never put in extra time " *unless really needed *"
* Don't stay back un-necessarily and spoil your company work culture which
will in turn cause inconvenience to you and your colleagues. There are
hundred other things to do in the evening..
Learn music...
Learn a foreign language...
try a sport... TT, cricket.........
importantly Get a girl friend or gal friend, take him/her around town...
* And for heaven's sake net cafe rates have dropped to an all-time low (plus, no fire-walls) and try cooking for a change.
Take a tip from the Smirnoff ad: *"Life's calling, where are you??"*

Please pass on this message to all those colleagues
And please do it before leaving time, don't stay back till midnight to
forward this!!!