Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tokyo Airport

In my last 15 odd years of international travel I have seen many a airport both good and bad. Like the Sydney airport it would seem like you are going to miss the runway and end up in the water when you are landing or the old HongKong airport in the middle of the city where planes have to basically do a helicopter maneuver to get it right and that too flying between two towering buildings barely far apart to fit the plane and you get the picture. I have not seen the new Hongkong airport but I have heard that they built an artificial island to put it up.

Tokyo's Narita International airport is is unique in that the terminals are stacked up like blocks. You walk around a snaked walkaway ramp to get to the plane from the fourth floor terminals. I guess trying to fit things into an island can be a challenge at times. The airport terminals are sort of squished. Each of the floors have a single restaurant that charges an arm and leg even for a cup of coffee (guys I'm not talking Starbucks prices) and a duty free shop smaller than some of the convenience stores attached to the Gas stations here. The whole thing looks like a stack of dominoes.

Now when you get to the plane to board they had half a dozen women security officers to pat down ever passenger. Seriously they had women security officers patting down men as well (Guys don't run out to buy your tickets to Tokyo yet). All I could think of was how mechanized this world has gotten. They just went about their business like they were robots lined up to perform a task. I wanted to take a picture of this but in the end decided wisely against it as I did not want to risk of being put in a Japanese jail for the rest of my life with a robotic jailor beating the crap out of me.

I would like to hear your opinions about the unisex patting down abuse that passengers have to go through at the Tokyo airport.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

When security starts to impede with freedom

I know I know it only helps us, better safe than sorry etc.... but these days one cannot even have a meal at a restaurant in Pune without submitting to a pat down and giving out your phone no. All this just for a meal. Where are our intelligence agencies that are supposed to stay ahead of this and protect us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cars spotted around Delhi...

On Sunday we took a drive out to one of the malls in Delhi. The size of this thing is insane by Delhi standards. I have seen some large malls like Mall of America in MN and the one in Edmonton Alberta. This by Delhi standards Gargantuan. Not to digress from the thought this is a 30 minutes drive from our home in Delhi. In that 30 mins. the amount of super luxury cars I saw on the roads was just insane....

I have some more pictures in my cellphone of new Audi SUV, BMW 335i convertible that I saw as well and the list goes on. Not sure what has happened in the last two years that suddenly affluence has gone through the roof. It is all good.

Just that if you think you can dream to retire in India with Dollar to Rupee conversion working your way think carefully....


Why do we wait for an event to cleanup our cities...

Another gripe...

Hopefully I can post something positive next or else I would have change my blog from Raj's Musings to Raj's Gripes..

This one is universal all around the world. I used to live in Delhi during Asian Games that were held in Delhi in 1982. The city went through a major cleanup drive. I was in Atlanta during the Olympics in 1996 and the same story then. The I saw reports come through Beijing during their Olympics cleanup and just now witnessed Delhi cleaning up for the common wealth games this fall.

I'm not talking infrastructural improvements which one can understand that new folks coming in could have an impact on the infrastructure. I'm talking about basic civic amenities like cleaning of the streets, replacing worn out street lights, plating trees etc... and the list goes on. I guess our governments do not think that citizens deserve these amenities.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Are we becoming a lazy nation ? (more from Delhi...)

This one is going to generate some debate but anyway here it goes…

I’m seeing a definite march towards it. Every one of my visits I see more and more evidence on the march towards it. We basically seem to need someone else to come and do even our basic chores. I know growing up we have always had domestic help but what I have noticed in the last couple days during my stay this time goes well beyond the ubiquitous “kaam wali bhai” in everybody’s house that we all grew up with. To drive my point I will use a day in the life of an individual let us call him “Sharma’ji” as I do not have any Sharma friend on facebook:

Sharma’ji wakes up in the morning yelling “Ramu meri chai kidar hai” (Seems like there is a Ramu in every household these days). Mrs. Sharma is in the meanwhile trying to roll around bed cursing Sharma’ji to have woken her up (”kyon subeh subeh gala phad rahe ho ji”). She is planning her own day in her mind (the mall trip in the morning, gup shup and chai, pakoda’s in the afternoon and you get the picture…). It has been about 15 mins. since the chai yell went out and finally after a couple of more shouts Sharma’ji gets his chai but without the news paper. “Abhe akbaar kahan hai” he yells back at Ramu. Ramu would walk to the doorstep looking for the paper that was delivered to the door step by the Akbaar wala at 5:30AM. Ramu is in the meantime trying to get breakfast ready. The kids are up and the sharma’ji has yet another domestic help (Nanny) to get them ready for school and drop them at the bust stop.

The dood wala (milk man) and subzi wala (vegetable vendor) are at the door step hawking their daily deliveries. The isthri wala is at the door step as well to pickup clothes that need to get ironed before the Sharma’s have to head out. Heck this time I noticed yet another addition the bread and ande wala (Bread and eggs delivery vendor).

The kaam wali bhai arrives in the meantime to clean the house, utensils and silverware and do laundry. The Sharma’s have a busy morning basically dealing with all the domestic help as oppose to doing a couple of things themselves. Now that shama’ji is ready to go to work he yells from his balcony for the driver to get the car out. The driver who has been washing and detailing the car since morning quickly throws the bucket of water out and hurriedly finishes up the last bit of cleaning to get the car ready for sharma’ji. Mrs. Sharma has her own car and driver to ferry her around to the various malls that have sprouted around Delhi. When they get back in the evening whole drill starts all over again.

I do understand that not all households employ the same numbers of domestic help but on an average everybody has around half a dozen folks helping them on a daily basis. Forgive me if I have exaggerated a bit but you get the point. Heck I saw a couple walking around in the DLF Promenade mall with their nanny in the tow pushing their infant’s stroller and a couple of guys from the mall bringing the wares they had bought to the car while the driver was waiting for them at the curb with their car. Every time I visit Delhi I see a new addition at one of the neighbor’s house and the addition is to the number of domestic help he has.

I understand that there is a billion people and this generates employment etc… but what a national waste of human resources…

BTW I wrote this while waiting for my driver to pick me up from the hotel to go to work …

Monday, April 12, 2010

Akbaar Walah in Delhi

For those who have lived in Delhi will understand and appreciate this: There is this unique way of getting your morning paper delivered in Delhi that I have not seen anywhere else in my travels. The akbaar wala (news paper delivery boy) comes around on a bicycle with loads of newspaper out on the carrier in the back and a couple of bags full of news paper on the handle bar. He basically rolls up the news paper and puts a rubber band cut out from worn out cycle tire tubes around it. This wrapped up news paper is then artfully delivered right at your door step the while akbaarwala is still on his bicycle. Now that seems pretty straight forward but wait until I tell you that people live in flats (condominiums) that can go upto four floors. Some of these condominiums have been Sublet out as well. The only way to get news paper delivered to some of these folks is via their balcony and in some cases an open window in their flat. The delivery person has to remember which news paper and magazines gets delivered to which balcony, doorstep or window, roll up and delivers while continuing to balance on the bicycle. He basically does not want to get down and slow himself as each akbaarwala could have more than 500 flats to deliver in the wee hours of morning.

Newspaper delivery in Olympics any takers...