Dec 14, 2009

In which we shop till we drop at the bangkok airport and almost miss the flight

I went to Tokyo in November. I haven’t posted about this trip because frankly it just went by in a daze. It was a whirlwind of a trip where I worked like a maniac and came back totally exhausted. When I was not working I was taking my two ‘visiting- Japan-for the –first –time colleagues’ sightseeing. One of the disadvantages of knowing a city intimately is that you are expected to take first time visitors around. Not that I mind that but these two guys were a little bit too enthusiastic for my liking. So enthusiastic that they didn’t mind sightseeing at night after a hard days toil even when it was bitterly cold and raining. Tokyo is one city I love but walking the streets of Tokyo in freezing rain with two camera happy guys does not make a very cheerful me. They were so camera happy and so narcissistic that they wanted their snap clicked every damn second. Since I was not too keen on posing for photographs I was assigned the task of clicking them. So I stood there trembling with hands turning almost blue with cold as they preened themselves before posing in front of whatever they chose to be photographed with. Some of the interesting places they posed at besides posing in front of every temple, monument and high rise in Tokyo were:

  • At the office reception area - at 8.55 in the morning when a whole lot of people were rushing in to punch in their cards before 9 a.m. People had to dodge past them as they posed right in the middle of the rather narrow reception area. Finally the guard told them politely to move off.
  • In the conference room – They tried a variety of poses here such as sitting in the conference room chair,next to the white board pretending to give a presentation,next to the huge glass windows as the view outside is quite spectacular(you can see Tokyo bay and all). All this while the next team that was to occupy the conference room stood outside holding on to their laptops and notebooks and quietly cursing under their breaths.
  • Next to the cycles in the cycle stand at Tokyo Station- hey may be they like cycles!
  • Next to an old lady selling fish-much to her irritation as they were just holding up customers.
  • On top of the directions pole while trying to balance on its railing with one foot. (Please don’t even ask why)
  • At every restaurant they asked the waitresses to take photographs of every single thing that they ate, re taking shots till they were satisfied while we sat there holding our chopsticks and trying to smile as the food got progressively cold.

Any how one good thing that came out of this trip was that I got to drink star bucks coffee by the gallon and eat a lot of my favorite Japanese food. I also met a dear friend after almost a year although I could only spend a few hours with her.These things things compensated for a lot of other discomforts. :-)
But I digress, what I really want to talk about is the return journey. While returning,we had a stop over at Bangkok for four hours.This is where I said a not too sorrowful goodbye to my colleagues who were headed towards Mumbai and devoted myself to some serious shopping.
Now, I am not a compulsive shopper and shopping does not feature under my favorite activities but I felt I needed a treat after enduring a lot of work related things and people in Tokyo.My first stop was at the perfumes area. I love perfumes and I walked about as if in a trance my nose quivering in anticipation of sniffing all sort of exotic fragrances. Buy only 1 or 2 perfumes I strictly told myself, because I have many at home that are still unused or unfinished. But I was like a women possessed and ended up buying 3 – Chanel, Estée Lauder and Christian Dior. Then I took myself to Boots body products and bought half the shop much to the delight of the salespeople.The sales lady actually asked me which airlines I was boarding as she was worried if I would be allowed to carry so much liquid stuff inside. Next stop was at a shop selling Thai herbal products and here I went totally berserk.I am a sucker for creams and lotions and didn’t know what to leave and what to buy. And everything seemed so so cheap and reasonable as I was converting from Japanese Yen to Baht.I bought enough stuff to last me two lifetimes. I was feeling very smug and satisfied till I came home and converted from baht to rupees. Thing didn’t look so rosy then ! Anyhow after spending a few happy hours scouring through the shops I decided to end my duty free adventure by buying chocolates. I was busy filling the shopping cart with celebrations and after eights when I happened to glance at my watch. It was 7.10 p.m.The boarding time of my flight was 6.45 p.m.Immediately I went into panic mode and started fluttering about like a chicken with its head cut off. Thankfully I knew where the boarding gate was but it was about 10 minutes away from where I was so I made a mad dash towards it leaving everyone in the vicinity to stare behind me with their mouths agape. The mad dash was in no way easy as I was weighted down by huge shopping bags. I had to go down at least 3 escalators and I think if there is ever a contest of running down escalators carrying a lot of baggage in hand I would win it hands down. I reached the gate and as I stood their panting I realized that there was no one is sight. I mean not a single soul. I was filled with panic at the thought that the flight had already left when I saw a notice saying that my flight was now shifted to gate C1 which was actually on the floor I was originally on. So everyone at the Bangkok airport was once again treated to the riveting sight of a woman laden with shopping bags tearing across floors as if a hound of dogs were after her. Another mad dash and sprint over the escalators and running cross entire floors I reached gate C1 and almost collapsed at the feet of the Thai airways staff. Needless to say I was the last passenger to get in. In retrospection I think all the panic was really uncalled for as obviously they would have announced my name and looked around for me at the departure area had I not reached on time. But all in all the people at the Bangkok airport got a free bit of entertainment. The sight me running crazily across the airport with hair and bags flying in all directions is something they will not forget in a hurry !

Dec 2, 2009

Is it better to go along with the flow?

There is a Childrens day festival in Japan called Koi-Nobori.Koi, as the carp fish is called in Japanese is supposed to be so powerful that its known to swim its way upstream against the current. To the Japanese it is a symbol of determination and perseverance. On Koi-nobori, they hang carp shaped wind streamers on their roofs hoping that their children will grow up to be as strong and courageous as the carp.
Swimming against the current is something we do so often in our lives. Faced with unfavorable circumstances, we try to fight them, determined to change things or to somehow get out of the situation we are in. Most of the times it works, our perseverance pays off and we succeed in getting what we want. But there are times in our lives when however determined we might be, however hard we might try, things just dont seem to work out.Eventually there comes a time when we get fed up of struggling and all we want to do is to let go and sit back. So what do you do then, do you continue your uphill struggle or do you step back and let God take care of things?By no means am I trying to say that one should not act to overcome difficult situations or obstacles. What I mean to say is when we have tried everything in our power and fought till the last ounce of courage and determination, but the night still seems dark and never ending, perhaps we should just stop struggling and try to go along with the flow. Perhaps we should get out of the driving seat of life for a while and let God handle things for us.

What would you do if faced with such a situation?
 

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