Showing posts with label me. Show all posts
Showing posts with label me. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

At What Point Does One Become Too Old for Birthday Celebrations?

The optimist will righteously cry out "never!" but the reality is, birthday celebration for a grown adult just do not have the magic feel that a 5-year-old would feel for his or hers.  The kid, looking forward to the imaginary greatness of adulthood, cannot wait for celebration of being one year closer to that goal.  But during past years of rather low-key birthday celebrations, the author never failed to wonder whether that purportedly "goal" was achieved, and by extension, whether it was worth getting excited about in the first place in his earlier years.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Homey Feel of an Inner City American Ghetto

For those who do not know, the author first landed in the US at age 12, in a neighborhood called Roxbury in Boston, MA.  Any Bostonian would timidly tell you that this is one of the city's roughest neighborhoods, a classic inner city African-American area with high crime rate, poverty, and plenty of dilapidation in a formerly industrial neighborhood.  Despite being almost directly south of the city's downtown areas, the 'hood that is Roxbury sees little sign of gentrification that has made restored the historical glory of the downtown, only helping to accentuate its continued obviously rundown nature through contrast.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cinematic Resonance with the "Ordinary"

When mentioning Japanese films, those in the know often come up with a few titles of horror ("the Ring" being the most well-known to a Western audience), cheesy tales of lost love (the list of tear-jerkers in this category goes on and on), or gruesome social critiques that evokes thoughts through exaggerations ("the Suicide Club" is a highly suggested film in this genre).  In all three, the ability to use an effective script for storytelling, often with limited budgets common for Japan's relatively small domestic market, is a key for success.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

ちょっとした上辺の関係

「もし身近な場所でとんでもない悲劇が起こったら、皆さんはどう反応するんだろう?」著者は何となくこんなことを思いながら、6人の同僚と土曜日の晩御飯を食べていた。その料理はまさしくもアフリカにいる外国人らしい:パスタにサラダ、赤ワインとジュースを備え、締めはクッキーとアイスクリーム。もちろんすべてが手作り。まあ、単なる普段料理に使える食材や調味料が不足してるので、これはすでに驚くほどの豊富。7人はカジュアルな会話をしながら、食事を終わらせ、ポップコーンをつまみながら夜遅くまで映画鑑賞…

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Erotic Sounds of a Capsule Hotel

As previously mentioned, traveling in Japan is an expensive affair.  This is true not only for casual foreign passers-by but also for tens of thousands of Japanese business travelers who need to keep their company’s budgets in line but get to places promptly and rapidly.  For them, staying far away from train stations and other nodes of public transportation simply is not a viable option.  To be on-time to visit their clients and return to headquarters, they need to keep to downtown areas where they can come and go quickly.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The One Who Wants Time to Stop

The author met a former coworker from Rakuten, who he has not met in some four years since he quickly departed from the company after less than a year of work.  Interestingly enough, he had met her on the very day she was handing in her marriage registration.  The author, not someone eager in communication, obviously had no idea of the fact that she was getting married, or that she was in a serious relationship at all.  Surprising at it seems, four years is not a short time for a person to grow up.  It gives a person much time to proceed with personal plans outside the career path.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Exceptions to "History is Written by the Victors"

For those who are knowledgeable about modern history of Japan, Kagoshima is very much considered a pivotal place.  Led by the open-minded Shimazu family, the former Satsuma domain remained in contact with the outside world, absorbing Western technologies and ideologies during the long self-isolation imposed by the Tokugawa Shogunate.  As the 19th century saw the forced opening of the Shogunate to Western military coercion, the leaders of Satsuma emerged to lead the reformist movement in Japan to modernize the country, ending the Shogunate and rapidly catching up with the West with Meiji Restoration.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

地方活性化のキー?

今回の日本旅行も時間でいうと明日で半分が終わるとの時点になるが、今夜でこの作者は鹿児島以外九州すべての県とほとんどの大きな都市部に携わることができた。楽天時代の終了で日本在住も約4年前の話になるが、この来たこともない九州で意外と「家に戻った」雰囲気を感じる。最初、作者はこれをただ親しみがある言語か文化にもう一度触れるちょっとした感動と思い込んでいたが、今夜偶然宿泊先で見てたテレビ番組が「地方活性化」のトピックで議論をしていたところで突然デージャーブーを感じた。

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Omotenashi" in the Red Light District

"Omotenashi" (おもてなし) is a cultural concept that the Japanese are deeply proud of.  While difficult to translate directly into other languages, it pertains to attentiveness toward small details when dealing with customers in the service industry.  Often, it is most visibly displayed in the meticulous training Japanese personnel receives on what kind of languages and gestures to use under what circumstances when speaking to clients, as well as the little things Japanese restaurants and hotels use, such as tools and signage, to make customer feel comfortable and convenient while dining.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Happiness of the Supposedly "Incompetent"

The older generation of Japanese often lament that the youth in the country are not aggressive or ambitious enough.  They are easily satisfied by the status quo and seem to be quite narrow-minded and short-sighted on how they see the changing world around them, much unlike the older generation that has experienced so much of sudden changes in their lifetimes.  The elders say want the youth to go out there to the big cities and outside Japan, so that they can become global citizens capable of changing not just their country but be a much more active force in global affairs than Japanese have ever been.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Legend in a Legendary Town

"Hey, do you know what time is it now?"  A fairly normal-looking elderly man casually asked the author as he was walking down the backstreets of Nagasaki.  Given the time, the elderly did not simply walk away.  Instead, he pointed the author to the nearest streetcar station (without the author's prompting), and motioned the author to walk with him as he was heading toward the same direction.  The author was a little hesitant at the beginning as he was eager to head to the next major scenic spot in the scenic port town, but little did he know that he was about to speak to one of the most legendary figures from a legendary time.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Charting the Unpredictability of a Distant Future

Given that this is 3 days from the author's (once again) departure from Malaysia, the author is has a very relaxing time not doing much, well, at all.  Reflecting back on the another year spent here required so inputs so the author found himself watching the new Terminator movie that just came out across the theaters here in Malaysia.  While there is little notable about the plot worthy of in-depth discussion here, this particular installation in the series put a much stronger emphasis on the ability of time travel to change events, and the idea that knowledge about events in different timelines can be simultaneously had by one person.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cynicism of Ideals and Idealism of Cynics

Southeast Asia used to be (and in many ways still is) a playground for some of the largest developmental organizations in the world.  The fact that Asian Development Bank has its headquarters in the region, along with multiple offices of UNDP and aspiring smaller NGOs, says much about how modern developmental work has shaped Southeast Asian economies.  Indeed, the long presence of aid organizations here have contributed much to how people locally perceive themselves, seeing themselves often as the deservedly unfortunate individuals who should receive the constant developmental support they are receiving.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Social Disease of “Being Satisfied with One’s Lot”

It was field meeting day at a small Tanzanian village 45 minutes down a one-lane dirt path from the nearest paved main road.  The staff of the NGO, which honorably hosted the author in his three-day visit, was waiting in the village’s main “square” for the farmers’ arrival.  The field team has been working hard all day to go door to door, getting people’s commitment to show up for a 2pm meeting that explains in detail what programs the NGO has to offer to help farmers increase their yields for the next planting season.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Origin of Tiresomeness (the Mental Kind)

Perhaps it is not the specific attributes of certain individuals to feel tired out of the blue, for no reason in particular.  There was no exercise of any sort done recently, nor has there been any particular mental task that required so much thinking that it strains the body for just supplying oxygen to the brain.  A person can just sit there, surf the Internet, be completely passive for a couple of hours, and still manage to feel absolutely tired out in a short period of time.  It really makes the person think about exactly what is causing the energy drain.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Asian Cuisine’s Perplexing Partiality of Vegetarianism

The author, being a skinny man that he has been for the past God-knows-how-long, has never really been too careful on the foods he eats.  The logic is that, given the lack of body fat, high intakes of fattening foods should not be too problematic as long as certain precautions are taken.  And the author has been doing some of that, mostly avoiding fried snacks like potato chips and carbonated sodas, while keeping alcohol consumption to a social minimum.  Yes, there is lack of exercise, but he never thought of himself as terribly unhealthy.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

In a World without Absolute "Truth," Attempts to Find It is Useless Effort

The author is a relativist when it comes to moral values.  The exact same act, done under different circumstances and background, he believes, can be either positive or negative.  Stealing is a prime example.  From time to time, there are news of poor, desperate people stealing out of basic need to support their families, sometimes to finance needs that can very much mean life and death for the benefactors.  While debates with regard to such news have focused on why society has not helped such people (for which the author believes is a government role), it also put forth other thoughts.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Death of the "Iron Stomach" and the Doubts of a Casual Traveler

On the road, the biggest enjoyment a traveler can possibly have is food.  Going to new places and indulging on the delicacies that raised a whole new unknown civilization cannot be underestimated in its value in communicating with the locals.  It is like the Chinese says, "民以食為天" (people see food sky/heaven).  The centrality of gastronomy in not only the cultural expression of a place, but also the economic realities of the common people residing there provides possibly the most concentrated and succinct method to get know the good and bad of a foreign location.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Portrait of Elitist Existence

Tucked in a little corner of an unmarked road leading into a plain-looking residential neighborhood, a little unassuming row of shops greets guests who may or may not intentionally drove down the one-way street.  At once lost and disoriented, the visitors would be rather surprised that a classy decor in a neat little room would even exist in such a place.  "A brother of a model opened up the place," the author was told as he sat down to have a meal in a shop specializing in crepes.  Despite it being lunch hours on the weekend, the shop seemed empty, with a few quietly chatting away, generating a relaxing ambiance.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Emotions: Floating or Sinking the Ship of Rule-Based Authoritarianism?

The author, as the adventure traveler that he is, often gets the question of where his "most interesting" destination have been.  Generally, without a doubt, the answer has been North Korea, a foreboding land for most who has the yearning to go but no courage to do so.  The author's own trips to North Korea occurred both from the Chinese and the South Korean side, years before the existence of this blog, and thankfully, before the more stringent regulations governing travels to the Hermit Kingdom today.  It was a different time when curiosities of foreigners was keeping a modest state-led tourism sector growing at steady pace.