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Lets think beyond ourself (Happy New Year – 2010) December 31, 2009

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Uncategorized.
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Dear readers of my blog,

As 2009 is just to end, I would like to wish you and your family a great and fun-filled 2010.

On this occasion let’s think beyond our self and our families and think more what we can do for our city, country and society as a whole in a decade to come.

I think we will remain happy if the world around us remains happy, so let’s put our sincere efforts to improve the world around us. In new year let’s make a practice to touch the life of people around us through small but significant gestures, even a small thanks or kind words to someone can make him/her happy. Also let’s make a pledge to at least self correct our self if not the larger group. You must be thinking what’s wrong with me, but if you think deeply, you will realize that everyone of us (including me) daily do something which is not correct or might hurt someone else … simple things like crossing a red-light on traffic signal, not giving preference to pedestrians while we drive our cars, bribing the clerk to get some certificate or govt document faster, loosing patience and temper while driving, throwing waste material in open, fighting or lying in front of children (let’s not give our future generations this culture) …. and many more such small things. Somewhere these small things have become part of our culture and now we take them normally and keep adjusting with them … let’s not do that anymore ….. being a matured and rational human-being and a part of civilized society we all know what’s right and what’s wrong …. let’s adhere to only right and say big NO to wrongs. I know it’s difficult, as I myself do many wrongs after many conscious effort of doing right, but good part is that these efforts keep my inner self alive. If every individual improves on these small things, a lot will improve in our culture and country as a whole.

On other side, we all have been hearing a lot about bigger issues like global warming, international terrorism, corruptions, political scandals …. this is our world in today’s time. You must be thinking what can I do for such issues, but every big change/revolution starts from an individual. Nobody is going to improve our living, our system or our society till the time we do not make our efforts to improve it. Most of us do not realize these things as we are too busy with our daily family and professional life, we do not think beyond our self. Till the time cases like Ruchika, Jessica and Mumbai Attacks will keep on happening, as a society or country we are not safe and neither our future generations. We do not feel pain for others but when same thing happens to us then we realize the pain, all this is because we all are too contended with our personal life (my family and job should remain safe) and are not at all concerned about other’s life. Think of Ruchika’s father, what does new year mean to him, not only to him but to many other people who are in some pain. I appreciate his courage for fighting the case single handedly against a powerful and corrupt officer for 19 years, how many of us have that type of courage and guts to fight for a cause and that too for such a prolonged period. He is in pain due to our poor system and nobody else but we as a society are responsible for the same. The bigger question is who will improve it? It’s up to us what we want to hand over to our future generations. We blame politicians for our poor system and politician are smart enough to fool us every time. Let’s from now onward, take a pledge to stand with other in their pain and do every bit to bring relief to them. As a starting point to improve the system, we should at least vote and vote sensibly in every election (national, state or any level). Our voice is strong as a group or society, not as an individual. To put a real positive impact on our political system we must exercise our power of vote.

I have said a lot … if in case you are thinking “ye kab bolna band hoga”, just simply click the delete button, as then I am unsuccessful to show you the positive side. In case you feel that these things do matter and we must think beyond our self and our family and do our bit to improve our system, then I am glad that this mail did its work.

Once again wishing you and your family great year ahead.

Heart beat up as GMAT date is close September 12, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Further Studies.
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Today is 12th Sept and now only two days left for me to take GMAT exam. Trying to do as much as possible, trying to learn my mistakes and improve on them. I know my weekness. I am bit week in verbal part, but very strong in quant part. I am taking the mock test to judge me performance. I am not doing good in those, getting only 650 or 660 in mock tests, which is not satisfactory.

I read on many other GMAT blogs that there is a very high probability that one gets nearby score what he gets on mock tests. I think I made a mistake by taking these mock test at later stages. I should have taken these when I started preparing for GMAT. These tests are good as they judge your performance as you go through these tests. Based on the replies of your previous questions, the mock test software chooses the questions to be shown, so the judgement of performance is dynamic and happens during the course of test itself. Moreover these mock test put you in same time pressure and shows the questions of same complexity as it happens in real GMAT. I think in taking any compitative exam, managing time is crutial for your overall performance in test. I am missing this part, esp in verbal section.

I started taking these mock tests seriously when i dont have much time left for my GMAT test. Anyway, I am still thinking positive and hope that on 15th I will surely be good state of mind and will beat the GMAT with good score. Friends do pray for me🙂

Trying to beat GMAT September 7, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Further Studies.
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As told in my last blog entry, I recently joined my office in India. I was at the company’s guest house for few days before moving to my rented apartment. Its difficult to find a decent and reasonable apartment in Noida. Recently I got an appartment where my friend was living earlier with his family. He was leaving so I took it. The state of house was bad, so getting it ready.

With all this shuffling happening in my life, I am not at all able to take out time for the preperation of my GMAT exam, which is scheduled for 15th Sept. I am aiming to achieve at least 700 score, lets see how much I can get. I started thinking about GMAT and MBA in May 2007. I dont know how it suddenly came to my mind to do MBA. I am perfectly ok with the technical role I am playing in my company, but I think for broaden your vision towards your work, you need to have business knowledge too in addition to the technical ground realities of business. After my post-graduation in computer science, I have spent more than six years in a technical and people management role. Now I have started getting a felling that I am doing what my manager is asking me to do without bothering how the company is growing, from where it is getting its business, who are all other clients of our company and blah blah blah …..

Now I feel that its important at least at my stage to know the business side too. I think I should talk to my manager about putting me into business development so that I can feel business happening closely an can gain experience from it.

I am choosing to do MBA as I think that it will help me to switch my role from technical to business development and grow further in it. In long term I have a plan to start my own business in software product development, but for that I think its better to have at least some business experience first. I think MBA can help me switch my role easily rather than me strugling to get my preferred role by proving my capabilities, which might take long time.

I am aiming for one year MBA programmes rather than two year programmes. I want to complete my MBA ASAP and return back to industry. Lets see how much I achieve in GMAT, thats the first step of my MBA journey. Guys, wish me Luck !!

Haridwar, place full of beliefs September 1, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Personal Life.
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After a long gap, I am back to my work. After the death of my mother I took some time off from my work to make things settled at my home. During my past few days, I had very different experiences. I went to Haridwar, one of the religious dhams in India, for completing the pending rituals of my mother’s death. It was a great experience for me. I can not completely explain the scene of Haridwar in words. Its a place to visit and experience of your own. Its a place where people come to adhere to their religious beliefs, as you must be knowing, in India religion is a big thing. At Haridwar its come to see the scenes where people are getting paats (prayers) done, getting their hairs removed (know as mundan) and taking dip in holy water of Ganga river. What I observed that people do all this, not just because they believe in it, but because of their superstition. They do it, because their ancestor were doing it and they have learnt or seen the same thing since their birth, hence they too have to do it. By saying all this I do not mean that I don’t do all this. I too do it because I am also a part of Indian society and have learnt the same things since birth. Frankly speaking I do all religious stuff so that my elders do not get offended. My family is open minded and never imposes things or their beliefs on me, but still I am a part of society and have to follow some things if not all.

My Haridwar visit opened my eye to the level of superstition that exists in India. There is a strong belief that the holy river Ganga can wash all the sins, if a person takes a dip into it. I am not able to understand how taking a dip in river can wash your sins. Most of the people come to Haridwar to take a dip in this holy river. On some special religious events/occasions, number of people taking dip into Ganga rises to somewhat in millions. Other than this source of pollution, another source is that people do drop the aasthis (remaining bones of dead body) in this river. Its again a belief that by doing so the soul of dead person will rest in peace. Frankly speaking I and my brother too did the same thing for my mother, as its a belief in Hindu religion. By all this, the river Ganga has now been polluted to extreme levels. Its one of the longest river of India which passes from many important cities of the country. During its journey, it gets polluted at every step, still people have a belief that taking dip in this river can wash their sins and hence do the same without applying their brain or logic on this belief.

During my this trip to Haridwar, I saw the state of Ganga river and it was horrible. I even saw a dead body of cow floating in it. With such a state of river, how can people take a dip into it. Other than taking dip in Ganga, people do take this water to their home considering it to be holy water. I don’t know how they consider it to be a holy water. It might be a holy water during its journey through hills as in those area there is very less population and hence less pollution, but as soon as it touches planes at Haridwar, people do change the state of this water by putting ‘n’ number of things into it just because of their superstition. Most surprising part to me was that people see the water is contaminated, they can see things floating into it, but still take it as a holy water, just because its a water from river Ganga, which is given a status of Mother Ganga (long story behind it) in India.

My father too wanted to take a dip into river Ganga, but seeing the state of water he changed his mind. He asked one of the pundits if there is some other place where there could be a bit clear water of river Ganga, as the water here is polluted. By hearing the statement of my father pundit got annoyed and asked him to leave the place. He said that even if all these things are flowing in river, still the water of Ganga can not be polluted, its a mother of all rivers and Ganga water is the holiest water. This made me think about the level of thinking that pundit had. It was not a surprise to me as I was expecting such a response from him. Its a shameful state that we rather than believing our eyes are believing our same old traditions and beliefs without giving any logical reason for them. I realized most of the people at that place never used their logic to know why they were doing what they were doing.

I got bit off, seeing the state and the level of thinking majority of India have.

Another learning and a surprise for me was the maintenance of family tree by pundits of different communities. India being a multi-cultural place have many religion. Each religion have number of different castes, gotras in them, which define different communities of people. My father took us to the pundit of our community to register the death of my mother. On the death of a family member, family registers the death with their community pundit. In Haridwar there are pundits of almost all communities. When we reached the pundit of our community, he opened his record book which maintained the family tree. He had the records of every person in last 10 to 15 generations. It was amazing to know who were our ancestors and to know their names, places where they lived and other details. We created a family tree from that information to share it with other members at home. That record book contained information of our ancestors 10 to 15 generations back. Pundit ji told us that how that all is created. He told that whenever there is any death occurs in family, few of the family members registers the death with them at Haridwar, at that time they note the names, date of birth and other details of people who visit them also note their relationship with the deceased. In this manner information about family starts getting collected from generation to generation. It was definitely a good way of keeping track and knowing your ancestors. Simply saying, I got impressed with huge and rare data that they had.

Although it was a one day short trip to Haridwar, but it was full of experiences and learnings. I will keep on writing as time passes. Do visit this blog for updates, as I will keep on writing new blog articles.

Hardest time of my life till now August 30, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Personal Life.
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It’s been long time now, since I visited my blog to post new entries. In last few days, there have been a number of changes in my life. On 23rd July 2007 night, I lost my dear mother. At that time I and my wife were in Japan. I came to knew about the news on 24th July morning, when I reached office and read the mail from my brother-in-law. As I shifted my residence in Japan on 22nd, so I was not connected to the world, as my phone and net connection were both disconnected at that time. When I heard the news, it was a great shock to me and it was hard for me to control that situation alone there in Japan. At that time I was thinking that why I came to Japan, when I knew that mother is not keeping a good health. I was literally cursing myself from inside. It was a great lose to me and at that moment; I was not able to understand how to react to that situation.

As I was in office at that time, so my co-workers helped me in getting the ticket booked for back to India. It was a busy season for India-Japan route, so was not able to get the ticket on same day, but somehow ticket I was able to get the ticket on next day. I left office early that day to pack my things, but in evening one more news came in which changed my plan further. Earlier I was planning to return back to Japan as my project was going on, but on that evening I came to know that my project is also getting aborted in between due to some cost issues. I hardly had few hours to pack my things permanently. I had two options, one is to go back at that time by canceling my house contract and other public services contract in Japan and leave Japan to never return back, but few hour left with me were very less for doing all this. Other option was to return back to Japan after few days, once things get settled in India, to cancel contracts and then I leave Japan permanently by completing my formalities in Japan. It’s nice of my friends or co-workers in Japan (Gouranga, Manish, Joy, Himangshu and their wives) to help me at that moment. They decided to take over my responsibilities to cancel the contracts on my behalf and to dispose off my household things. I handed over all my required personal documents to Gouranga and he told me that he will try his best to get things canceled so that I need not to return back to Japan just for getting things canceled. It was his kindness that he helped me and took all the responsibility, without which I would not have been able to leave Japan permanently at that time. I am my wife both packed our things, leaving behind all what we could not take back to India. I was in a bad shape at that time because of the news of my mother and at the same time I was also put in emergency situation on my project front. Anyhow, with the help of my friends, I was able to fly back to India on 24th July, hoping that Gouranga will cancel all the contracts in Japan and I will not be required to return back. In worst case I got my return ticket booked for 21st Aug, so that I can return in case I need to.

We reached India in night and took a taxi from Delhi to my home town Panchkula. Finally we reached home at 7 in morning on 25th. Till that time the crimination was already done as it was a hot weather and everybody told that it was not right to keep the body for so long in such a hot and humid weather. Most of my close relatives were already there. At that time I was going through a strong feeling that why I left for Japan seven months back. Actually in Dec I got married and left for Japan for my project along with my wife. At that time I my mother’s health was ok. I won’t say she was good, as she was suffering from dubieties since long time, I think for last 30 years. Due to such prolonged dubieties, her health suffered a lot, especially in last few years. Her eyesight got blurred, her heart was only working at 15% as two of her major arteries were blocked and now during her last month her kidneys failed and stopped working, due to which she was put on dialysis. Due to regular dialysis (thrice a day) most of the nutrients of her body were drained out, which caused a lot of weakness in her body. I was aware of her situation in Japan and was planning to come back to India on 4th Aug, but she left us before that only. I did not even get a chance to meet her for the last time. I sometimes feel unlucky as I did not get a chance to be near her in her last moments. I know she must have remembered me a lot. Well, its the same for me, she will forever remain alive in my memories.

By experiencing all this, I came to know that nothing in this world is predictable. Whatever one plans, but it is not determined that things will go as per plan. I never thought of departing from my mother in such a way, but it happened as it was destined to happen. I was in Japan working smoothly and never thought of returning back so suddenly and in such a situation, well but it all happened, one can not plan for such things. I think one should try to do his best to keep things in place but at the same time should be ready for any surprises. One should keep on going with life, whatever it shows to you. Try to be best in the given situation, whatever that situation may be.

Nothing to Worry !! July 18, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Japan Experiences.
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There were a lot of warnings from local administration here in Kobe, Japan, about the strong typhoon approaching it over the last weekend. Everybody was informed and was asked to take precautionary meassures againt the typhoon, which is named as Man-yi. I think its a regular typhoon and comes every summer here in Japan.

My manager at NEC informed about this to us and asked us not to go out on that day. It was my first experience to have a close encounter with typhoon and was bit excited about it. On friday evening after reaching home, I told my wife about it and then tracked the route of typhoon on the Japan Meterilogical Agengy’s (JMA) website. The website was extensive and have a lot of information about Japan wheather, volcanoes, earthquake, typhoon etc. I think, its the best site to track the wheather in Japan. It keeps a track of all earthquakes (does not matter how minor those are) on everyday basis. On that site, I was able to get the satellite pictures of Man-yi typhoon. Actually earlier it was aheading towards Korea, but then it changed its track towards south of Japan. On friday evening itself, it hit the small island of Okinawa in Japan. Okinawa is a remote island mostly have US naval and air force bases there. Its a famous tourist destination as well. Read news on the net that the typhoon hiting the Okinawa, killing two people and distroying a lot of property. It was churning wind at a speed of more than 112 miles/hour, thats a blasting speed🙂 , isn’t it ??

Typhoon was expected to hit Kobe city or pass by it over the sea on Saturday morning. From thrusday the weather in Kobe city was cloudy and it was raining haevily here. On Saturday, when typhoon was expected to arrive Kobe, one of my friend, Manish, was planning to shift his residence, so was bit worried about it. Eventually, on Saturday morning things were not that bad. It was just simply raining and there was no sign of fast winds and danger as anounced earlier. When I went to Manish’s house for helping him in shifting, the truck driver, who was Japanese, told us that the typhoon got delayed and might reach Kobe on Sunday morning. Well on Sunday morning, the weather was much better than what it was on Saturday morning. After seeing the wheather of Sunday, I thought that either the typhoon has crossed kobe or it might not have even reached kobe. I quickly looked on the JMA site and there I saw that it has crossed Kobe city. It did not passed over the kobe city, but rather over the Ocean. Kobe is on the Japan’s coastline and typhoon in place of hitting Kobe city, crossed over the ocean. On Sunday evening, the typhoon started to calm down and subsided over the ocean near tokyo.

There was lot of talk about it on friday evening, but on tuesday things were back to normal. Finally there was nothing to worry. On friday, I was excited to closely experience the typhoon, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance. Might get the chance next year if I stay here in Japan till that time. Don’t know where I will be next year !!

Indian Curry in Japan July 13, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Japan Experiences.
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Today there was special meals here in NEC office at Kobe. The special part was that Indian non-veg curry was served in Japan office. As the special meal was advertised for last few days in our canteen, so most of the guys already knew it, except me and few others (you know, I lack in Japanese😉 ), so no one from our Indian bunch brought the lunch from home today. When I reached canteen at my usual time, I saw a huge line till he end of the canteen entrance and that line was for special Indian curry. Japanese too were excited about it.

I came to know from one of my friends here, that its a regular yearly affair. Every year, for one day Indian special meal is prepared in NEC canteen, the reason might be good Indian strength here. Although the  food was not proper Indian, but still then all Indian enjoyed the meals and I hope Japanese must also have enjoyed it. All other things were looking like Japanese items except the Naan. Yes naan, I was surprised to see the naan. Don’t know how did the canteen guys managed to get naam. I think it was readymade and they did not prepared it themselves, but still I appreciate their effort.

While writing about Indian food in Japan, just few of my past memories got refreshed, so mentioning the same here. Few months back our NECHCLST manager was on Japan trip and we planned to invite our Japanese manager and few other Japanese team mates to dinner in some Indian restaurant here in Japan. We got the booking done in Aarti restaurant, located in Sannomiya. It’s the famous Indian place (at least among Indians) located in the lively place of Sannomiya. We all left office together at 7:30 pm and reached the restaurant by 8:15 pm. We were first served with mango lassi and bear. As Japese prefer bear (they drink a lot of it), so most of the Japanese ordered for bear. They liked the Indian bear “Maharaja” and enjoyed it a lot. Well the dinner was good, the best part was that our Japanese technical head Kimura-san liked the pudina chatni (mint sauce) and ate it as if its the main serving. It was ok for us, but too spicy for Japanese guys, still Kimura-san was having a good time. He was sweating like anything, but still he demanded more and more chatni. One of us just cracked a joke, that if Kimura-san continues like then he wont be in a position to come to office next day. Well it was just a joke, but it actually happened. next day Kimura-san could not come to office because of stomach upset🙂 .

For Japanese people, Indian food is too spicy and its hard for them to have it. For us, I mean Indian, Japanese food is tasteless. Moreover I think most of the Indian can not have it because of things like pork , beef and other stuff which is commonly used in Japanese meals. Most of the Indian can at most eat the fish or chicken, but not other non-veg items. Japanese food is rich of sea food. I too tried the Japanese food few times. Once on new year night, I had dinner with my friends and my wife in some Japanese restaurant and there I had the Ramen, Japanese noodles floating in beef liquid and served with small pieces of octopus, fish and snail. Also had some snacks made of turkey and one other item that was just like spring-roll, but it was filled with snails rather than the vegetables. I enjoyed eating snail thing and turkey. Japanese eat a lot of raw non-veg food. by raw it mean, they do not cook much or fry much. For instance the most famous Japanese dish “Sushi” is a fish dish served in a raw form. I think the main reason for good health and average lifetime of Japanese is their food habit, eating raw things, and their habit of regular exercise. These guys remain fit even at the age of 80+. I have never seen any old person needing the help of anybody else. They move around as we do in our young age. I will try to write a separate blog entry on the health of Japanese people. That’s it for today🙂 … take care.

Services Vs Products Company February 2, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in My Professional Life.
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Service based and product based companies are different from each other in many dimensions. As I am from India, I will take service software companies of India as an example.

Service software companies (like Wipro, Infosys, HCL Technologies etc) do not have focus on one or some specific technologies and domains, where as product software companies (like Microsoft, Intel, CadenceAdobe etc) are very much focused on their domains. By domain I mean, the area for which you have knowledge and in which you play a significant role. For example, Cisco moves in the domain of networking. They solve networking problems, and don’t know much about Databases. On other hand Oracle works in Databases space and don’t know much about embedded, networking or chip designing areas. Similarly Cadence Design Systems, who works in a very niche area of EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tools that are used for chip and board designing, don’t know much about other types of software. So we can say product companies are deeply rooted to domain, technology and research & development. If we look at service based software companies, their core strength is in providing solutions to any type of problem in any type of software, whether it is database, embedded, web application, remote network monitoring etc. They play in every area. So we can say service based software companies are more broadly rooted, with there roots spread to every area, just opposite to deeply rooted product companies.

Big service software companies have a model of verticals to divide their scope of work. With this model they categorize their projects in different verticals to manage the company work as a whole. The verticals here mainly mean domains in which service companies normally execute projects. For example, domains or verticals can be banking, retail, embedded etc. Domain or vertical is the area to which the software serves. For example, software used in Banking comes under banking domain, similarly software used in retail business (eg: POS devices) are categorized under retail vertical. Under these verticals different projects are placed.

Similarly product companies also divide their work in such verticals, but their verticals resemble to each other a lot than verticals of service software company. Just for instance, I will give you the examples from my experiences and learning in CA (Computer Associates) and Cadence where I worked earlier. In CA, the whole organization was divided into 5 main areas of work, which they used to call as brands (equivalent to verticals in service industry). The brands were related to different domains, like security, storage, databases, web applications and network management. Each brand have it’s own set of products. For instance security brand have products like antivirus, firewall, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) etc, falling in same category. In Cadence too, I observed the same type of division. They are have three area and those are Chip Designing, Chip Verification and PCB Design. In each of these areas they have number of products serving the same purpose.

Third difference is that product companies have very specialized and skilled employees. As they have very specific market to target at, so they need very specific and quality skill set. This is the reason that product based companies mainly prefer people with good enough experience in the same area. On other hand service based companies serve number of clients, having varied requirements in all together different technologies, that is why they need to have large and varied resource pool of engineers, whom they can deploy in different projects with minimum effort. Engineers in these companies have much wider knowledge about different technologies as they are not bound to one technology or product and get a lot of opportunity to work in different areas. Due to this reason, lot of companies that visit campuses of engineering colleges in India are service based companies, as they can make the fresher work in any area. Moreover I think its good for fresher as well, as they get a good playground to know different technologies in services based company and later on when they choose to be in one specific technology or domain, they can switch to a product company.

If we look at the employee strength of these two type of companies, we will come to know that product companies have very limited strength compared to service based companies. At the time when I was in HCL, it had 40,000 people, but when I joined CA there where only 15000 employees worldwide, where as CA got established much earlier than HCL. In Cadence also worldwide strength of employees is 5000 only, where as its one of the top companies in EDA domain. We can not directly compare the companies on their employee strength; rather we should compare them on their market share and revenues. On market share and revenues, product companies are much ahead of service based companies.

In today’s blog entry, I just covered the broader points, but if we look deeply in the working environment and culture of both services and product based companies we will surely find number of differences.

I personally like product based companies. Reason is that they are much focused on their work area, its good for engineers to learn a specific domain and technology, they provide good working culture and facilities and above all they give you bulky pay packets.

Japan – Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Experience November 15, 2006

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Japan Experiences.
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Hello readers, this time I am writing after a long time. I wrote most of my earlier blogs in my free time, but as I was busy with my new tasks at work and was also getting used to new environment around me, so could not write blog for quite some time. Just to update you I have now landed in Japan. Yes I left Cadence to join NECHCL, a Noida based company. I am currently in Japan probably for long term, around 2 years or so. I hope I will have enough different experiences here which I can blog it on my this site.

It has been around one month now since I landed in Japan. I have been planning for some time to write about my Japan experiences till now.  I think, their are lot of things in Japan which are unique in itself and are lot different than rest of the world. In today’s blog entry, I am only going to talk about my initial experiences in Japan, like traveling through bullet train, generally interacting with Japanese people etc. I will keep on writting my other Japan experiences under tag “Japan Experiences” on my blog, so keep a watch on it. I hope they will be of interest to you.

I landed in Japan on 14th Oct, 2006 at Narita Airport, Tokyo from where I went to Kobe city in south of Japan. Kobe is actually 13 to 14 hour journey by normal speed connected trains. My travel was sponsored by my company, as I was on business trip, so I boarded Shinkansen (famously known as bullet train) for my journey from Tokyo to Kobe. Shinkansen approx took 2.5 hours to complete the 550 km journey, it runs at approx speed of 210 km/hr. Though the fare for Shinkansen is costly, but still lot of people (mainly business people) travel by it as it saves a lot of time. I would say, anybody who comes to Japan must travel once in Shinkansen as its an experience in itself to travel by Shinkansen train, you will remember for your whole life. The ride is so comfortable that you don’t even come to know that you are in a train. If people do not look outside, they will get an impression as if they are sitting in a room, as the train do not vibrate or make noise at all. Following is my picture at Tokyo station in front of Shinkansen 700 series train, ready to departure for Kobe.

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Traveling through Shinkansen was my first encounter to world renowned Japanese technology, used in their day to day life. I was in Kobe from Tokyo with in 2.5 hours of boarding the train. Although sitting in Shinkansen train is an experience in itself, but I must also say that its much better feeling to observe Shinkansen train running on track from outside rather than to sit in it. It really goes like a bullet, hence its informal name “Bulllet Train”.

I was accompanied by one of the managers of my company from India till Kobe. As the manager, who accompanied me had visited Japan earlier also and was much familiar with what to expect and what not to, I had a comfortable journey till Kobe. My manager and I separated at Kobe station and from there I boarded the taxi to m guest house, where my room was booked. I gave the slip to the taxi driver along with the map to reach the guest house. I planned my travel to some extent before taking a flight. I kenew that in Japan I would be facing a major language problem, so I got the address (in japanese) and map of my guest house ready by searching on the net. Driver dropped me to the guest house entrance and finally I was there at my destination.

I did not had much problem in traveling as I was accompanied by manager, who knew Japanese language to some extent. In case I would have come alone to Japan for the first time, it would have been really difficult for me to figure out things in a country where very less people speak English.

Regarding the language, I would like to say few more things before closing this blog entry. Although now Japan have a very good relations with US, but still English is no widely excepted here. I think language is not a taboo here as it is in India. In India, people generally have a perception somewhere in the back of their mind that English is much superior than any other language, as English is widely spoken worldwide and had a tag sophistication attached to it. This is the reason, that most of the parents in India want their children to study in English speaking convent schools. This is my observation that majority of upper middle and higher class people in India take much interest in English than their national language Hindi, but this is not the case in Japan. In Japan, the only mode of communication is Japanese. In all their schools, colleges and universities, the only medium of communication is Japanese, now days they are bit moving to English also. All their government offices, private and public companies use Japanese language as a medium of communication and I think they feel proud in it. They don’t find much limitation in using Japanese as a medium of communication. You might find English speaking young people in Tokyo are, as its a capital and moreover a business center of Japan, but its hard to find English speaking people in other parts o Japan.

I think there is a very strong reason behind very limited use of English in Japan. The reason is that Japan was not much open to the rest of the world till the beginning of20th century. It was an isolated island, where no foreigner used to visit much till 100 years back . As it was a closed economy, with not much business needs, it remained closed till the beginning of 20th century and hence there was not much need of foreign language. Now in a current scenario, where globalized businesses plays major roles, the need for learning English has bee recognized in Japan. Due to this need, now English is taught at a very early stage in schools here. I think within next two to three decades, Japan will have a lot of English speaking population.

Thats it for this blog entry, I will try to write more about Japanese Language in my future blog entries.

First day at my new job in Japan October 17, 2006

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Japan Experiences.
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I landed in Japan for business trip on 14th Oct, took good rest that day as I got lot tired with long flight and then Shinkansen journey to Kobe (will write about Shinkansen in seperate entry). Before leaving Delhi, I got one room booked in weekly mansion here in Minatogawa-koen, known as Miwaboushi. One of my colleagues, Manish, did all arrangements for me before my arrival. He got the room booked and helped me a lot to get settled

Yesterday was my first day in NEC office, my new office here in Japan. It was much different experience for me, meeting Japanese people in their own style. To start the day I woke up early at 7:00 am (well man its really early for me🙂 ). Got ready and catches up with other two Indian guys, Himangshu and Arvind, of my office. Those two have been leaving here in Japan for last 8 to 9 months and are much settled here. As I was not aware about the location of office, so I accompanied them. We took up the train (Seishin-Yamate Line) from Minatogawa-koen station and it took us exactly 32 mins to reach Seshin-chuo, the last station on the track and the place where NEC office is located in Kobe. Japan runs with the clock, by this I mean in Japan everything happens with time. These guys value time a lot. Things will happen at exact scheduled time not early and not later. It was my experience with train in Japan, they are exactly on time and never get delayed, as my mates told me. Its not only trains everything here is binded to clock and that is why planning events are much easy and accurate. Well we reached office at 8:45 am. Yes 8:45 am, its very early for me to be in office😉 , in Cadence, my earlier company, I my routine was totally different. I used to reach office somewhere between 10 to 11 AM and used to stay in office till around 1 AM in night. I know it was a bad routine, but I had my freedom there🙂 .

After reaching office, I first met our team’s language coordinator, Gouranga. He is a pleasant and helpful guy. He helped me getting my new office laptop and also introduced to the NEC manager Tanabe-san. I exchanged business cards with Tanabe-san, in Japanese style. Before leaving for Japan, I was given a short Japanese culture sensitization class. In that I was told how to interact with Japanese, exchange business cards with them and other such small things. Before landing in Japan, I did not take the learning of that class seriously and thought that it would not be much different in Japan, but after meeting Japanese in office I realized that they are much different in every sense, the way they interact, give respect to each other etc. They are humble, soft spoken and too. I will write about Japanese culture after some days, let me first gather some experiences here🙂 .

Just to give you a small insight, let me give you an example. You need to be extra careful while exchanging cards or introducing yourself to Japanese. You need to hold the card in your both hands, with cards facing towards the person you are introducing to. Also accept their card with due respect in both your hands. Look at the card, read it and pronounce their name if possible. Never keep the card directly in your purse or pocket, as lot of other cultures do. If you will directly keep the card without reading it or giving enough attention to its details, Japanese consider that you are no giving much respect to them and their details and really feel bad about it. Also never put the card casually in your pocket as we sometimes do, they do not take that as good. They prefer that you give respect to their card, read the details on it then place the card eitehr in card holder or in right place like card book.

Although things like exchanging cards is a small and very casual thing for any other culture, but it’s not the same for Japanese. It gives them the first impression about you. Although Japan is now much open towards world and they have started realizing that they need to adapt to the global working culture, but at the same time they still honor and practice their values and traditions both in their business and daily life.

Another thing, which was new to me is their “bow”. They bow to greet each other and they bow a lot. Being an Indian, I am not in a habit of bowing, but I think it will become my habit in few days. These guys bow to show their respect and humbleness towards the other person. Even if you are a stranger to them, they will still bow. Japanese are too humble and soft-spoken.

I will keep on writing about my Japanese experiences as I face them. This is all for today.

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