Sunday, October 28, 2007

Family Fiesta - Singapore

Yesterday we had a Family Fiesta organized by the company where I'm working now. Kind of corporate get together, The event turned with full of fun. One of the attraction in the event was to assume and dance with house cleaning items as musical instruments. You know what, some senior employees got excited and the show went on to it's peak. Look at the video clip, which will show you the fun I had. ;-)

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Singapore Deepavali Celebrations

Singapore, a perfect blend of multi culture society. The seven percent Tamilians in Singapore (South Indian descendants) celebrate Deepavali (referred as Diwali in North India) in a grand way. Though fire crackers are banned in Singapore,as everyone knows Singapore stands for Shopping hence any festival that gathers peoples attraction is a key for traders to make their business live. Here in Singapore Deepavali also one of the important festival for the people and traders.

The Tamilians in Singapore gather in a place called Little India (Will write more about this are in the future)every weekend to meet their friends and Relatives & Of course for shopping too. This is the place is covered by a road Serangoon road. Look at the pictures, The whole of Serangoon road is decorated. But this is not all, while I roam around the area, Found all most the entire area is decorated as well.

The Singapore Indian Association also has launched a special Deepavali shopping village to offer the traditional Deepavali items. In fact this is been supported by many other organizations, they are also the sponsors for the decorations in this area.

Both the sides of Serangoon road, we can find so many shops lined up to offer discounts and variety of Indian origin cosmetics, jewelery and dress materials. All the decorations seen in here are done by the traders around the area to welcome the Deepavali festival.
Last year I was in Japan celebrating my Deepavali all alone. This year I'm alone now but on Deepavali it will be more fun as I'm joining with my family in India for the celebration. Probably thats why the whole singapore is looking colorful to my eyes.

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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rental Guidelines - Singapore

The below guidelines are drafted in making a better living place for innocents in Singapore. These are only guidelines, make appropriate addition and modifications on case to case basis. Don't be a looser in any case.

  1. Always go for approved HDB flats or private condominium.
  2. Never pay more than 1 month rental deposit and 1 month advance rental when u sign a new contract. Agents commission is half month's rent for housing contract, as the rentals are now sky rocking we should press for 2year contract with half month's agent commission.
  3. Avoid taking houses where the owner is letting out flat for 1st time.
  4. Avoid taking houses which are unoccupied previously.
  5. If a tenant is staying there take feedback from him regarding the owner, house, why he is leaving the house, etc. It is likely that the tenant may tell u something which the owner or agent won't tell you.
  6. If the house is approved, always go for a Utility account in your name or else get the original bill from the owner. PUB sometimes gives away discounts on the utility bill which the owner may not pass on to us
  7. Do not believe the owner if he says he is going out of country (for work/business) and won't come for 1 year or so. It can so be that he will be in Singapore. Also do not fully trust the agent. He might be involved with the owner in luring you to take the house.
  8. I have learnt from reliable sources that there is/are a group of agents who look for owners having money problems. They assure the owners that they can get tenants who are ready to pay advance rents (4/5 months) but in return the owner has to pay them a premium amount above the agent commission. This way the agents earn good money in a single deal. In this case follow point 2 above.
  9. Deal only with registered Agents , ask them for their registration number etc.
  10. Demand and get your receipts for Agent commission with GST paid, make sure that the receipt hold registration number of the agent. collect the Agent's IC/PR copies as well.
  11. Do never trust the owner/agent if they say the rentals are gone high so you need to double to current rental price. Ask the current Tenant how much they pay, if rent quoted looks really high increase, immediately walk out and don't deal with the agent/owner any more. We don't really need to encourage abnormal increment on the rental. After all it's our hard earned money.
  12. Never agree for 6month diplomatic clauses saying if you leave before 6 months you need to pay the whole 6 months rent plus deposit etc.
  13. While discussing with the police I understood, bank transfer of money could be treated as friendly loan and the owner/agent can escape with this point when there is a problem. Hence even if you do a bank transfer make sure you are getting a receipt for the money you transfer.
  14. Do not do a single money transaction without a valid proof/receipt.
  15. Never sign a contract in hurry, you may not notice the catch in it. There are plenty of houses, even if you loose one there is always another house awaits for you.
  16. Try not to accept visiting a house for inspection with another prospect who is also interested on the house through the same agent. Because some times the Agents are organizing such dirty tricks to make the rentals/bargain high. So, always make sure you are the person only visiting on that time slot. If you happen to visit with many other treat it as high risk in loosing money every month.
  17. Never speak to anybody saying the rents are going high, this habit encourages the owners/agents to hike the rents without any limit because we are acting as free advertisement media for them.
  18. Trust me there are good amount of Houses are available from JTC for us and approach them for getting the house of your need. Where there is no hassles and truly safe.
  19. You can also verify the ownership of the house owner with HDB for the house you are proposed to rent. By doing this you will come to know whether you are dealing with a genuine owner.
  20. While getting a furnished house, take the inventory carefully if you have a digital camera take pictures of damages in the house. It may be useful while you leaving the house. Make sure to get the inventory list signed from the Owner/Agency.
  21. Make sure the electrical equipments are inspected throughly, if you don't do it then you may have to pay for the problem it had previously.
  22. Make sure that you writing on the agreement about the owner's responsibility of repair/maintenance of any goods in the house if the charges/expense going to be above $50.
  23. Please for your own interest, take extra caution while dealing with real estate. Also never accept if the above points are not met. Because we all have heard of numerous incidents people loosing money because of their ignorance. It cost a lot!

I really hope and wish you all have a good living experience in Singapore, after all we are here to stay in Uniquely Singapore. I found most of the Singaporean neighbors are friendly with each other, so enjoy your stay!

Your critics are welcome, please find time to fill up some comments here!

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Beware of Housing Frauds in Singapore

It was a very bad experience for my friend who lost huge amount of money ($4600) on a Housing scam in Singapore. The actual experience is that my friend who is also a new comer to Singapore like me wanted to find an accommodation, The housing agents came handy in searching for a house.

In Singapore a general term is that the housing agent gets half a month of commission for finding a house. However they say they help you in dealing with the agreement etc., I found there is no registration etc. for the agreement. It's just a bit of paper written with some rules, also the agreements differs agent to agent. Some times you can find an agent registered and some work with a real estate company to assist.

So, My friend did approach an agent who was referred by one of his friend. The went and a saw a house in Balam road in Block 23. The house owner and the agent both were presented on that day my friend visit the house. The house owner quoted $1200 as monthly rent so the agent commission must by $600. Later on after fixing the rent, the agent and house owner went on a discussion and the agent came back to my friend and told him that if my friend pays 5 months advance rental(never heard of such deal) and 1 month security deposit (it's normal across the island) the owner will let the house for $1000.

Since the offer was attractive to my friend who felt he can save upto $1000 in five months time, he opt for the same and chosen it. He paid $2000 on the day he visited the house, and later on he paid $2000 through bank transfer and promised the owner of the house when he gets the key he will pay the remaining $2000. The agent was also prompt in taking his piece of cake $600 on the spot. The house owner committed he will hand over the house on 20th of August as some one else is already staying the apartment. You know what, after a weeks time, the Agent stopped picking up my friend's calls and the owner totally switched off his hand phone. My friend was in a impression he could get the key before August 20th, The time passed and the day has also came but the situation never changed.

I have joined with my friend to visit the place on August 20th to check if the owner or his representatives stays in the apartment. We got a shock as the tenant is still there on August 20th night 8:00pm. So I rushed to the nearby NPP and asked their assistance, the police called the agent he didn't pickup the call. Luckyly we had his friend's number hence the police called his friend and asked him tell his friend'd to call back. The agent promptly called, and told the police that he had an appointment with us by 9:00pm on the same day. We swear we didn't have any information like that before. So, we agreed to meet him at the location, and he came about 9:45pm saying he will help us raising a complaint, I know he was trying to escape from the situation like an approver however he was so adamant he didn't return the $600 commission as saying that is his service charges for showing the house (????)

We had tough time in getting the complaint report from the police as they said as per rules this needs to be handled with Small Claims court and directed us to the small claims court, however they gave us an incident number, finally we had pushed them to issue us a case report and successfully got it. But I should accept that the police is very friendly in Singapore however they have got some limitations handling such cases. Because of this, it's public's responsibility to be careful to avoid such experiences.

Now, my friend went to the court and they say that the agreement should hold the address of the house owner otherwise they can help and we need to approach the police. You know what my friend finally gave up and gone to his country embassy and asked they intervention in handling the case. He is also planning to approach local news papers to publish his bitter experience so that fellow Singaporean citizens and innocent foreigners will be notified for such acts.

So, guys please be aware Singapore is still low crime country and doesn't mean no crime, however this kind of cheating is treated here are civil case and cannot be counted in crime. I advice everybody to take extra caution before committing any money transactions. There are lots of cases discussed on Housing scams in here, so Beware of housing frauds in Singapore.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Singapore night

Warning: Don't expect me writing about Gaylang or Orchard tower stories in the space

Actually I wanted to capture the National Day function held in Marina Bay on 9th August 2007, unfortunately I was bit late so I could reach the location only after the function got over. That is how the Singapore night has been found in this blog.
Singapore is a truly colorful country, for whatever function that the nation call for; you can see the Singaporeans wearing red colored t-shirts and dresses. You know what I too have joined with them wearing Singaporean national colored red dress on that day.

My destination to visit in Singapore was primarily the Merlion statue(Lion head and Fish body), and I could do that in the national day of Singapore rather i would say national night of Singapore ;-) Look at the picture below here, this is a baby Merlion statue behind the taller one, you can see the taller back view also from this picture. Between the baby and taller spot the floating stage organised for the national day festival, when I took the picture the function just had completed situation.

The whole country (city) was so excited to celebrate their city's birth anniversary. The story of Singapore known to almost everyone so I'm not gonna repeat once again. Here are some pictures that describes my Singapore night roam.

Marina bay is one of the hi-fi commercial area of Singapore, the most taller building clusters are found here, I still remember seeing this building's pictures in my school notebook covers in India those days. Today I'm here in front of them.

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Singapore Cycle - Disc brakes

The attractive thing about Singapore cycles are the disc brakes(!!). Yeah the Singaporeans are not as interested as Japanese to pedal the cycle but fascinated by their fancy cycles.

There is no parking for cycles also in Singapore, hence most of the places you can see cycles tied with the road side electrical posts or barriers etc. Look at one of the cycle tied in my office wall.

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Team lunch - Singapore

My first team lunch session in Singapore had happen a fortnight before, Indian, Filipinos, Singaporean Chinese, Malay Chinese and Indians were part of the lunch. We have chosen a Filipinos restaurant for our taste buds. Much of us had already experienced Chinese, South and North Indian, Korean, Japanese, Mexican and Junk American food but not that of Filipino's hence the choice.The hotel was located in Marina Square in Singapore, the hotel atmosphere was good and pleasing. You know what the hostess in the hotel was so friendly to ask us about our girl friends (???). Most of the food items were prepared with Pork and that is a reason for my Indian colleague to feel uncomfortable. Actually he is a vegetarian and you know what he had finished his lunch with appetizers.

The next team lunch was in Park Royal hotel, this time it is grand team lunch due to our manager visit from US. It was a buffet lunch and we had more than 100 variety of dishes to eat. I couldn't resist to control my diet, so much of items and so good.I'm thinking what if my manager comes weekly once, ;-) ha ha ha...

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Jungle made of Concrete - Singapore

Singara Singapore (Beautiful Singapore) is here, welcome to Singapore blog tour. A multi culture, colourful modern Asia not far from this blog post ;-). Almost I have completed 1 and half months life in Singapore a place where you can see Chinese, Malay, Tamil languages spoken widely and a true cosmopolitan city. One can go to a Hindu temple or Masque or Chinese temple or celebrate the festivals of any religion together with other friend.
Go out for shopping? Don't forget Singapore shoppers have discounts and cushion bargain attached to their tags. International warranties, expo, shopping festival are the widely known mantra to the marketing plans. You will get to see one or other exhibition or festival throughout the year (though I have not completed even a quarter year in Singapore, but heard by word of mouth). Low crime (I can see taxi's stick bills with words like "low crime doesn't mean no crime"), beautiful Asian girls, clean roads are always attractions too.

There are many things to share with you, Singapore looks alike great jungle made of concrete with rivers like tar roads taking ups and downs while turning left and right curves, the cars and automobiles are fishes in the tar rivers. I stay in the center spot of Singapore called Toa Payoh and you know one of the largest tar river in Singapore concrete jungle right next to my apartment. They call it as PIE (Pan Island Expressway), this one connect Singapore's west to east vice versa and runs for maximum of 42.8kms long. Have a look at day and night pictures of this scenic PIE river's pictures here.

I could see in many aspects Japanese and Singaporeans lifestyle are matching very closely. First they both have very small land particularly Singapore has a land lesser than Chennai (South Indian Metro City), hence many times i get confused how to address Singapore as a city or country. Hey guys no harm, just expression of my thought.

Fun rides, zoos, bird and animal watching, cheap electronic items, theme parks, fun rides, balloon ride what else; of course movies are most preferred way of entertainment in here. If anybody talks about Singapore i don't think they will forget to talk about their hawker shops (Petti kadai in Tamil) which are serving authentic Indian, Chinese, Western and Malay foods all the time. They are cheap and taste good.. Really!

Not to forget, Singapore's most criticised objects are the govt fine $$$ boards." You do this you will end up paying this", "you do that you may have to pay so much","if you have this much you can try doing it" are some examples. Keep watching great fun ahead! Uniquely Singapore is here with you.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Explorer's Jeep (Willys CJ2A)

Hi Surfers, I'm back again after tooooooo long interval. But this is unavoidable for me.

My Tiger (Willy CJ2A 1946) is now standing on his foot with full power. I have to change the top portion of the jeep to a flexible one for folding, removal etc. Also minor tinkering and painting job to make it look better.
The Jeep had also gone for a Engine transplantation with more powerful Peoguot engine. Yes the jeep is fully ready and doing great. There couple of modification I was doing with it, as I have mentioned earlier I thought that I would take this jeep for Indian explorer program.
You know some times our plans may be doomed by the time, this happen to me. I will not be able to keep up my plan as Indian explorer for another 3-5 years. Because I'm now relocated to Singapore the Lion City.

But I did visit palani as a part of my plan and made my smaller article for you people. It was nice experience however I had to choose a bad weather (43degree celcious) and we have almosted boiled.

Look at this space for my detailed blog about the palani visit, I hope I would do it today or tomorrow. I'm still collecting information for singapore blog because I myself new here and not started to explore anything yet.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Indian Explorer

I made my mind up to write my travel experiences in India, that a good news for myself. You know why? I have enough to cover under this blog now. To kick start my exploration in India, now I’m building my Willys Jeep back to action.

After coming back from Japan, I couldn’t even have time to visit my native Tiruvannamalai (A city in Tamilnadu state of India). As of now I could only plan for the future trips the list grows like infinite loop. This is a formal announcement for all the readers of this blog that do expect more here in the near future. Keep coming back and raise all your doubts and queries on your India tour plans.

Have a great day.
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Thou Arikatho Gosaimasu!

I wish to extent my heartiest thanks to all of the Nipponians who helped and interacted with me during my visit in Japan. I really enjoyed and appreciate your service capability and guest honoring culture.

It was wonderful and colorful days for me in Japan. Thanks to all of you!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dream of Underwater – Tokyo Sea Life Park

It’s kind of dream ever since I landed in Tokyo to visit Tokyo Sea Life park. Fortunately I could make it atleast in the last weekend here. The donut shaped structure that is located on the shore of Tokyo bay. This aquarium is actually located inside Kasai Rinkai Koen, I could say this is the largest Aquarium in Japan.
The aquarium hosts many ocean animals like hammer head sharks, fishes and penguins. I can say this is a well organized aquarium, I felt much more than expected inside the aquarium. You can see in the photo below, I’m standing in front of the bluefin tuna fishes that were kept in a tallest tank in this setup.
This place is kids paradise and travelers underwater dream. Huge glass walls, behind the glass wall you can see all sort of sea life. The Giant crab (nearly 3 ft. in size) is most attractive; I never imagined such a big crab existed before.
The Jelly fish, Leafy sea-dragon and Nemo are crowd grabbers too. I could manage to take many pictures even in the dark environment. The Nemo fish section is another most wanted environment for the kids; I guess it could be due the popularity given by the cartoon movie “Finding Nemo”. Actually the flash photography is prohibited; hence I had real difficult time in getting the pictures.

Seeing live star fishes, Squids and multi color fishes are life time chance for me. It would have been even more interesting if the aquarium also organize to host seals and dolphins. This is one minus point to this aquarium. I almost took 3 hours to complete the round. There are guided shows in every section of the aquarium in a specific time. While entering at the aquarium we can take the English information sheet for browsing the park. It will cost 800 for adult to enter in to this aquarium; I felt it is most reasonable for this kind of attraction.

The aquarium not only hosts fishes but the ocean bird penguins. Its beautiful seeing them underwater. They fly under the water with their wings.
Later in this day, I came out of the Tokyo Sea Life Park and entered to the Kasai Rinkai Park for a short walk, the Ferris wheel in this park claims the largest one in Japan. With this visit I’m closing my roaming schedule in Japan. I hope to write atleast one more blog before leaving out of Japan.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Japan party fever – Part III

Almost I’m reaching the final days in Japan, while looking at my calendar it is filled with party schedule. All of them are about farewell to me.
When I came to Japan it was tough time creating relations with people here, but once you form your community around then the situation is smooth. For me the final days are precious days. I got many cool people turn to extend their hands for friendship. Unfortunately the day has come, I have to return back. I do love to go back as my kids and family are there in India.
Yesterday there was a party (This party is a Japanese party to this Indian) sponsored by team of operations department from the company I’m working in Japan. The chief of the operations is the person whom I always remember as smiley, he has a unique smiling face. I and operations chief and team of five more people from his department were in the party yesterday. These people are the first people outside system department to talk to me in the company. The party was real fun as we were discussing about sports and entertainment. During that time I came to know from one among that they have watched Super Star Rajinikanth’s “Muthu” feature film when it was screened in Japan. At the end of this party they presented me with a beautiful Japanese “sensu” (the folding fan). Sensu is one of the important cultural symbols and popular tourist souvenir here.

In other party that I hosted to my friends from the company in my apartment, there were two guys one of them stays in the Tozai line. On the party day I told them that I would wait in the Baraki Nakayama station to receive them. Mr. Mitadera came sharp at the time fixed, the next person Mr. Ogashira was delayed for few minutes, for our surprise he came in bicycle.

That party was an Indian party to Japanese. I made Chicken curry, Chapati and Green dhal masala as main course. We had few more items on our table on that day. Those guys were really cool and enjoyed our traditional food. It was Mr. Ogashira who learned how to say taste good in Tamil and pronounced with Japanese accent.

Today my lunch was with an Indian couple in Japan at their apartment. They are my good friends in here; we had our friendship started via. this blog. As the person happen to read this blog turn to me as a friend in later days and today I had lunch with them at their apartment.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mt. Naeba rob way and Ski experience in Japan

It was nice experience visiting Naeba the mountain town of Niigata prefecture in Japan. I traveled to Naeba with my friends in a car, after about two and half hours journey we landed in a place with cluster of mountains covered with silver blanket. White white everywhere, the fingers felt freezing cold what an amazing landscape we spotted in the morning. (Formula: Water + cold weather = Snowflakes.)

Naeba is famous ski spot to host world cup tournaments for skiing, hence it attracts more people. This town is filled with rental shops of Skii equipment. I had a chat with the local rental shop owner (Looked in the age of 80s), he stated almost 6 months in a year Naeba has snow. Later I also came to know he is a champion in the sport long time back. He also visited Himalayas for training Indians on snow surfing sports. One can rent (daily) the ski equipment from 1000 yens to 3000 yens. As I had no experience in snow sports, I had to spend nearly 2 hours to learn how to stand, start and stop the ski. Believe me I had felt carrying 10kg on my foot while wearing the ski equipments. The Mt. Naeba skiers aged from 3 years old to any upper age.

Mt. Naeba has good facilities for accommodation, food and health. Often I could see the snow bikes of patrol people driving around. The food court near Naeba has Italian and Japanese food varieties. In fact inside the same food court there is an onsen (Japanese hot spring bath) for after ski experience. I had real fun having Japanese curry rice food, it was good.

The Mountain was very steep and you can literally see the skiers every part of the mountain skating down towards. There are many cableway facilities that take the skiers to the top of several ski spots and they start skiing down from those areas. Since I had no experience I was not really confident on skiing from such a steep spots but I never missed to go on top of the Mt. Naeba, about 1789m summit I had traveled on the cable way, there was no words to express the feeling of my cable car experience. In simple words Fear, Thrill, Sad, Surprise and Glad are the various expressions I had during the cableway travel. While climbing upwards I had encountered many sceneries and landscapes of Niigata prefecture.

I took the cable way bit late in the evening; hence I had only 3 mins to spend time on the summit. You know what I would have done with that short time span, clicked few photographs.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Japan Tour - Party Time!

It’s been long time since I wrote in here; I think I’m in my final days in Japan. Just wanted to cover some skiing experience before leaving from here, most probably it will happen next week.

My boss had hosted a farewell party for me; the picture shown above is from that party. There is a video uploaded to youtube, will do some more interesting videos very soon.

Yesterday it happens to me to eat Sushi, sesame with raw whale and many other Japanese sea foods like Octopus, Squid and Fishes. Here is the raw fish consuming video from my yesterday’s party ;-)

Actually if you look at the hotel, we were sitting on the ground a typical Japanese style hotel. For people with baloon type belly :-) it's a task to be noted.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I'm an Alien in Japan

Today successfully I became an alien in Japan by receiving the Alien registration card ;-)

The process was simple, When I came to Japan the immigration officer taken my Certificate of Eligibility and gave me a yellow slip directing me to register myself to the near by Local government administration office. The slip was carrying instructions stating the mandatory registration of Alien with in 90days of arrival at the airport. If anybody lives in Japan even with a work permit lesser than 90 days need not to be registered.

But to be noted, without Alien registration one cannot really open a Bank Account or Acquire a Japan driving license or even any other property trade in Japan. While you have your alien card, it makes more convenient of not to carry the passport everywhere but alien card.

The process of obtain this card is that, visit the local office and take a token from the vending machine installed in front of the officer’s desk. The Govt. offices in Japan are just like a private company’s corporate office, so clean. The foreigner registration cell who entertains this registration will call you for filling up an application for the registration. During your application writing they verify your passport for the VISA and expiry information. There is a requirement for 2 numbers of passport size photographs; this information was already found in the yellow slip issued by the immigration officer at the Narita Airport. They are really clamming and helpful till you complete the application form. After receiving the filled in application the officer provided me an acknowledgement paper. It was indicating the date on which I should return to the collect the Alien card. Along with it, I have also received couple of papers and a book explaining activities of the administrative office. The papers included a judicial area map of that office with all the major locations and routes found. Throughout my visit in the local administration office in Gyotoku I really felt the humble handling of people by the government officials in there. This is a branch office for the Ichikawa city administration.

I went to the same office today 16/01/2007 to collect the card, to my surprise instantly after getting my acknowledgement paper they issued the card without wasting either of our time. The card was having my photograph embedded with colorful hologram on top in a typical credit card size. The card was in white color with all the information about me and my passport alongside the expiry information about the card. I really appreciate the patient and kindness of the people in Japan’s government offices.

These local administration offices also provides cultural exchange programs, guide to woman, foreigners and local information. This offices are basically all in one sort, they register the vehicles, register the new person on the area, take care of garbage work, hanko (authorized stamp of individual, in Japan the signature is not accepted as authenticity) and even other civil works around the political limitations. Whenever somebody moves out of an area or enters to another are the person should register them in the local administration area of the respective location.

I have spotted a flyer in the office today stating 500JPY for one day Japanese class, the cultural exchange programs encourages foreigner learning and sharing cultural and cooking information with the local people.

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Japan’s disastrous mobile bills

Yesterday I had the most shocking experience in my life looking at a bill sent to me by the mobile phone operator (au by KDDI). The bill was generated for 16days of time from 12/12/2006 to 31/12/2006 and carried the outstanding amount as 39,693JPY. I wouldn’t have seen any other service provider charging such a huge amount for no international calls and no domestic multi city call option. In fact nearly 28,500JPY charged for just for the WAP service.

This makes me even more affraid for using the same service in the last 10days in January, I may probably expect one more such a bill in the first week of February now.

First of all the mobile doesn’t have enough memory for downloading huge content, which means there is a limitation for downloading. Secondly typing through mobile phone is always considered as pain hence that rules out the effective use of internet via. mobile phone. Additionally no WAP site is been classified into image rich site that is another fact getting away from heavy data transfer. Also the tiny screen can only show a small piece of data at one stretch which are technically called decks in WAP technology and consumes more time for browsing even a text based site, now you know what would have been a average WAP usage.

In spite of these entire things, I got my moderatively used mobile WAP service charge for 15days is about 28,500JPY plus 11,000 for making local calls. I’m now wondering if such a facility in a tiny mobile cost a fortune then why should we call it as value added service. The technology should be made available to public in an affordable way not destructive manner. This made me to call all the readers of this blog to ignore au by KDDI mobile operator to all possible extent wherever possible. If you know, in India which is a developing nation provides mobile internet connectivity with unlimited usage for just as low as 400INR equal to 1000JPY. Are my Japanese friends are so ignorant to raise their voice against such unjustified pricing policy of a service providers? It’s one of the very bad day I have ever came in while visiting Japan.

Here by I request you guys please take extra caution while using mobile phone in Japan.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pongal Festival - browsing my memory in Japan

It’s my second time missing one of the most important festival that is been celebrated in the southern part of India in my stay in Japan. In fact this is the festival which really ties me with my relation not only with humans but nature. I pledge to give some information bits(forgotton truth) that I know behind this festival for you.

Paying homage to our mother nature is the key element made the ancient Indians grows faster and safer in terms of all the aspects of life. Dravidians (I call the native Indians as Dravidians, other branch are the Aryans who came from European continent) who were black in color, who had no Hinduism, who never lived in the Indus valley, who are never restricted them with caste systems but divisions with their work systems are called Dravidians. (Parayar – Announcer, Kuyavar – Potter, Vannan – Laundry person, Udayaar – Landlord, Mudaliar – Accountant and Arasar - Ruler are some examples of divisions used in the ancient India before Aryans)In the modern days these people are compressed into southern part of India where the Information technology is booming to fuel the countries GDP growth.

Even before Aryans invasion into India, The Dravidians lived with a supreme civilization. Those were there in the stone sculptures as ancient scripts but nothing to prove or show to the world like Indus valley. However if you rotate the time in backwards it’s a scientific proof that India was once part of African continent where the human life believed to be originated. Looking at the Indian animals Lion, Tiger and Elephant will tell you that this concept is truth these were the same animals spotted in African forests. Focusing at the people skin color one can easily point out similarities found in Africans and Dravidians (South Indians) and they are brothers for millions years ago.

I remember recently watching a movie called “God must be crazy” where shows the footage of tribal community who lives in the African forest alongside the wildest animals and without ground level water for about 20000 years. They have no god, no religious but they believed the Nature. This provided the place, food and the entire thing needed for living and mutual share of land with all the creatures of the world.

I’m recalling all of these historical and scientific truths here to point nothing but a festival the Dravidians celebrate even now called “Pongal”. This is a festival to honor the great nature for providing light, water and land for cultivation of food. This is a festival that comes in series of three consecutive days. The first day of this festival is to burst those of unwanted things from us which states the cleanliness followed in the ancient days, followed by that comes the harvesting day which is the most important among all the festivals for the Dravidians to thank the nature (Sun, Earth, Water, Sky and Air). The third day of festival is for the friends of human, who helped through out the cultivation process and transportation for the human. In this day the people decorate their domestic and pet animals with colorful things and feed them along with paying respect to those animals.

This festival is not for any Hindu God its for the nature, here we see the undisturbed culture that Dravidians followed for millions of years even after the invasion of Dravidian land by Aryans who brought several things that today’s mankind if proud of like invention of zero, the art of love Kama sutra and many other. However there were several mis-concept popularly spread across the world thinking that Sanskrit is the oldest language of the world, but the truth is different even before that the language Tamil is been used in the world. An inscription says “Kal thondri man thondra kalathe mun thondri mutha kudi thamizh kudi”, this means even before the formation of rock or sand the Dravidian civilization had founded in the earth. In the recent history India has been ruled by majority by the northern state people who were believed to be Aryan decedents and spread the world with much untruth information. However, they had the inventions which showed the way for today’s modern world.

Some information I thought the world should know altheas to a brief is here, however it is every single word in this blog has branches to several micro and macro levels. This is just information for greeting the world for the Worlds only festival common for anybody from any religion “Wish you a very happy and prosperous Pongal festival

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Finding (Information of) a Geisha!

The moment anybody outside this tiny country Japan is thinking about Japan will immediately find an image of a colorful female in their mind. Though Japan is famously known for its electronics, efficient cars and earth quakes what comes in ones thought is the female who is elegantly dressed with costlier kimonos and painted her exposed body parts like face, hands and neck with various colors.

Who is she? and where is she? are the questions raised to me when I heard of my trip to Japan initially from India. I found the females referred as Geisha (‘Gei’ means art and ‘Sha’ means person in Japanese, in a simple form an Artist). Often, we can notice at least one of the souvenirs purchased on the foreigner's return to their home country from Japan will be a ‘Geisha’ doll. An immensely represented figures of Japan the Geisha.

In the beginning my idea of Geisha is a rich woman or a woman from the imperial family is who the Geishas are, but later I found a different view about them. These are the people who entertain their customers with dance, music, story telling and communication (probably drama) expressing the illusion of a female. Their dressing needs aid from a professional as it involves lots of difficulties. In the ancient days Geisha are not females instead males. Later the term has transformed to females, as no entertainment ends without the spice of a woman. The Geishas are trained from their young age, some times from childhood. They have a special training for how to entertain their customers, when they were matured or learned to become Geisha these young people will go on an apprentice period during that time they will be referred as Maiko.

All these information were an original Geisha related, but what is their stand in the modern society of Japan where the western influence is more than their culture. That leads the answer pointing the sex workers, now the majority of Geishas are referred or meant as prostitutes. Though Geishas are not originally sex workers they were the people to entertain their customer no in the form of sex but various arts.

I wanted to meet the today’s Geisha, got information of their locations primarily Kyoto the old capital of Japan. But having limitations with the work schedule I’m really unable to visit that far. Next place came to me as an option is Asakusa of Tokyo (Refer my previous blog Auspicious Asakusa). Finding Geisha out from Asakusa is a real challenging task; finally I met a Maiko(Trainee Geisha) on the road. She was beautiful with the pink colored makeup all over her body with a black Maiko’s kimono. As a matter of fact, I never missed the opportunity to ask her to pose with me for the camera my friend carried along with me for the trial. She accepted my request with a beautiful smile (look at the picture). She was accompanied by two men dressed in a colorful form, but I still have no idea of who to refer them as this is the time I have seen a person like them. Some of the points stated here are the output of my discussion from the Maiko and the two men along with her. They stated couple of tea houses in the area hosts the shows of Geisha.

As the Geisha culture is turned very costly because of their traditional training process of ages and dressing. The modern community (though preferred but) is not really making their visit to tea houses of Geisha. As the bars and hotels entertain their customers in Japan with hostesses on the western costume which are economical for many. What ever reason, the population of Geishas are in extinct in Japan leading a faded future of Geisha.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Silent atmosphere of Samyoji temple – Japan

Samyoji temple, Kannonji temple, Entsuji temple and Okura Jinja shrine are the religious establishments of Mashiko which falls under the Tsukuba - a mountain. Apart from the temples, Mashiko local government also had developed several museums of pottery and the collections. Some of this museums charge a fee for public access. As our plan for Mashiko is restricted with one day trip, we could not enter into all the listed spots but Samyoji Temple.
Samyoji temple is on the little elevated but not in a highest mountain with aged about 600 year old. It is located on the Tsukuba mountain belt. The temple is not crowded; it’s a clam environment residing in a peaceful location on the green hands of nature. After driving the car in a single hairpin bend the samsoji temple parking area has been reached. The parking area has the food stalls selling squid, octopus and fish varieties.

There are two stone lanterns installed on the stone made stairs which leads to the temple. There were about or lesser than 100 steps to reach the temple from the stone lantern installed. In front of the lantern the temple authorities has a shop to sell some religious items. I have no clear idea about the names of those items but those seem to be a wrist bands, fortune tellers and some memorandums. Also on the parallel side of the 2 stone made lanterns I have also seen a Buddha statue with kids playing, some people had also left some soft toys near to the statue as a religious belief I guess. The stone made steps are neat and divided with a steal pipe climbing and returning people support.

This temple has a 3 storied wooden pagoda, an Entrance and two temples. The primary temple is larger and taller in sized. The temples are erected with statues in it, those were larger in size. As a custom this temple also had the water pot where people wash their hands before entering to the temple. The small sized temple had a giant sized angriest God with two other subordinates in it. Except the main temple, including the entrance had the roof with a sort of grass topping. The entire temple has shown no sign of cement or concrete, everything was made with wood. But it was elegant and had a speciality of Japanese style architecture.

After spending about an hour in the temple, we were rushed towards Tokyo on the car, our visit to Mashiko had turned really interesting as we had chance to see the country side of Japan.

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Visit to Pottery Paradise, Mashiko – Japan

After a month time interval I had an opportunity to go outings in Japan, This time the idea to know the ancient Japanese pottery making has been sparked by Mr.Uchida (Our Guarantor). Hence we have chosen to visit a place about 100kms away from Tokyo called Mashiko.

The 2nd day of 2007 morning 10:00AM our team has set ready for the tour to Mashiko. Mr.Uchida also had never been to this place; hence our tracking of route on the car was solely depended on the GPS system installed. The in car navigator has been set starting point Nishi Funabashi and destination as Mashiko Information center the community building. It quickly recognised the starting and destination points and showed the entire travel distance as 106kms and 2:37mins has driving time.

We had chosen to travel the local roads in stead of the Highway as everybody requested to see the scenic country side of Japan. The car started its journey with 6 people on board. It was a pleasant trip to us to experience the relaxed life outside Tokyo. The villages on the way to Mashiko had full of Salvage yards and used car dealers’ show casing numerous cars that were used in the roads of Japan. In a short while after an hour and half drive we stop at Seven Eleven a convenio store on the roadside for our meal.

Mashiko is a famous country town during Nara Era (A.D. 710-784) for manufacturing pottery goods. Due to several political changes in Japan the Mashiko had to loose its glory and blurred the pottery business. The current Mashiko contributes to Japan as tourism attraction exhibiting the classical age pottery manufacturing techniques. There are several schools teaches the pottery manufacturing art. There visitors can pay as low as 1000yen for a guided pottery manufacturing tour during which they can make their own pottery, there will be a additional charge for boiling the visitor made pottery and shipping it to the visitors address in Japan after 2-3 days of the whole process.

There were many pottery shops in the area to attract visitors, but majority of the shops sells the ceramic owl dolls and Japanese style bear dolls. I have spotted these bear dolls in many Isakaya (small Japanese style hotel) establishments in Tokyo earlier. There is a Giant sized bear statue is also seen on the Mashiko central area as a landmark. Many of the information boards in this area are written in English as an exception but several letters in those boards were missing due to lack of maintenance. But it doesn’t stop us reading that partial information seen on the board.
The area information office provides detailed map and information flyers to those who visit Mashiko. There is plenty of car parking available around the attractions in Mashiko. The Mashiko area is filled with pottery makers and shrines of ancient Japanese Nara Era. 

After a while we have moved towards Samyoji temple in Mashiko from that point our travel has started towards Tokyo. Apart from the salvage yards and used car dealers the way to Mashiko also had several villages with rice fields. I have a plan to visit one of their villages soon to discover the farmer’s life in Japan and the techniques they use in the cultivations.

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Welcome to the great future - 2007

First time in my life ever celebrating the New Year outside my home land, filled with expectation, happiness and doubt. Surprisingly nothing has materialised on the 31st December 2007 night to welcome the New Year.

I used to roam around with friends in India during the New Year night with some beer and celebrations. I always had feeling of greater New Year celebrations in Japan but it was in vain, as the night turned to me lonely at the apartment without transport facility to go out. I was calling the friends to find out the places to go and celebrate the New Year event, some indicated Shibuya, Odaiba and Roppongi. But the Tokyo Metro train schedule indicated no trains after 12:00AM in the mid-night. With the temperature running 1-4degree celsius passing the whole night in the roads are ruled out. That laid the path for demolishing my new year celebrations, my apartment sharing friend had already left to his friend’s place which added more worries on the final movements of 2006. Finally with few larges of Jamaican Rum I had to end welcoming the New Year at the apartment and went on sleeping. As usual I decided to start the New Year with going to a temple; hence my travel towards Asakusa had been ignited. I had to call my friend Anwar、as he had procured a new Canon DSLR in the recent past he wanted to go for a photographic session during the festival time.

Another disappointment had waited in Asakusa; earlier couple of my Japanese friends understated that during the New Year day the Japanese wear Kimonos in large number and visit Asakusa but the situation was totally against as I had not seen anybody with the cultural dress in there. Instead the ultra modern western dresses were attracted our eyes.

Asakusa looked like the busiest Chennai streets as the place was filled with lots of police patrol to prevent any illegal things on the crowded day. The place was also hosted several food stalls around the temple, I can say without those food courts no temple could be visited in Japan. There is a custom of eating Squid, Octopus and fish in the compound of the temple in Japan is seen. Look at the picture which tells a story of what I was meaning in here.

Later few hours of walking around Asakusa we had moved towards Akihabara to probe any electronic gadgets under discount sale is available for our photography needs. But not much to state, all the prices were under the same ceiling of pre-festival rates. There was a minimal discount as low as 5% of the original good. Hence we decided not to buy on the New Year day. Our search had also prompted us to visit Shinjuku area for the similar reason but the result was same. We entered to Yodobashi, Bic Camera, Map camera and Laox stores in these areas but as mentioned no much attractions. I’m only writing this for the future to keep reference of what you can expect on the New year’s day in these areas. I was told by somebody to expect 30% discount but later understood that it was biased information.

I also spoken to my family members on the New Year day and shared the celebrations with that I end my New Year celebration of 2007. Now its time to Plan, Frame and track the year to favour us throughout the 365 days of time. Probably this year will bring us new attractions, life style, career growth and increment in the bank account. I may get lot more to share with you people on forth coming days, I strongly hope that the year 2007 will make another milestone in my and your life.

Let us all link our hands to chain and lay a beautiful path to welcome the New Year 2007. I wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2007

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Closing the account of 2006 in Japan

Very few take an opportunity to thank the year which brought us a fruitful of memories, growth, wealth and promotions in life and career.

Frankly speaking I’m an opportunistic person who takes things favourably for my sake. The year 2006 had given me a great gift “Adhava” my second son, helped me fly to Japan to learn new people, culture and work environment. Yet another milestone in the life passed age plus one in an increment manner.

I got several new friends, new comments on my site, new photographs from my tiny little camera kit and offcourse this blog. Every think had happen in the very few 365 days circle.

Last year also set goals in my life to achieve new targets and a new lifestyle along side the year also brought some sad thinks to compensate and balance the life. The year also made me to Loss my cousin, missing the life to stay with family and friend in India.

Unacceptable manner of execution of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein made the year 2006 recorded in the black book. Though Saddam Hussein seemed cruel and brutal ruler in my view Saddam is another mankind to commit mistakes, unfortunately that had caused loss of thousands of life along with his life in the end. However killing is not the punishment for killing, committing crime against another crime. I had an opportunity to see the Saddams final movements on the web; it was real horrible, the comments passed to him before his death when he was standing on the gallows was unacceptable by any human. More than punishment the event looked like political revenge in my eyes, if he is punished by law then the punishment would have been involved a lot of differences.

With all the above lines in the books of 2006 with much other unforgettable history I’m closing the book of 2006.
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