Sunday, February 18, 2007

Japanese way-too-nice-ness

I had been to Japan recently for a few days to attend a conference. This was my first trip abroad. One of my labmates told me that Japan is a weird place. Weird in the sense that the cities are densely populated, yet so clean, and the people are very nice to you.

Although I had this back in mind, I was still amazed and dazzled when I reached Kobe, Japan.

We(myself and my colleague Kirti) were standing blinking in a railway station there, not knowing how and where to get tickets. Just then, a young man notices that we are new to the place, and offers to help. In his broken english(The Japanese are bad at english), he shows us how to take tickets from the kiosks. And how to use the tickets to get in, and then goes back to wherever he was heading. And all this, when we dint even ask him to help us..... someone going so much out of the way to help you..... I dont know whether we would do so much to friends either.

On the same day, when we were trying to figure out the way to our hotel, we asked a passerby how to get to the entrance of the hotel (The hotel was big and visible, but we dint know how to get to the reception). All we asked was 'where' is the main entrance, and the guy actually escorted us till the reception..... Cmon, gimme a break! Dont embarass us by helping so much

The Kobe Portopia hotel, where we stayed

After several other encounters with 'WayTooNice' ppl, here's about the most disgustingly way-tooooo-helpful guy. We were plannin to do some sightseeing around Kobe. We had to take a cable-car to reach the top of some hill there. Wading through various maps, we arrived roughly at the spot where the cable-car station was. But, we dint know the exact location, or how to get there through the maze of bridges and buildings around. We did the mistake of asking some apparently busy guy, walking briskly towards someplace he was hurrying to. The guy dint know how to get to the station. But yet, he looked around and searched for directions, and dropped us till, and only after that did he head back through the maze of bridges, to wherever he was originally headed to.... This was the last straw.... we decided we will not ask any japanese person for any help...... They are way-too nice.... They go waaaaaaaaaay too out of the way to help you. We do not have the right to disturb their busy lives.

And yet, as it had to be, we couldnt help but ask more way-too-nice ppl for help, as we morons managed to get lost and stuck up pretty often.

Oops, amidst all this general nice ppl stuff, I forgot to acknowledge Yoko Toyama. It was hugely, by her help that my presentation at the conference went well. People liked it a lot and recommended others to visit my poster. I even got a potential collaborator. All thanks to timely help from Yoko.

Current mood : Busy trying to do many things, but actually ending up doing nothing
Currently listening to : Whats this life for - Creed

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