One of the worst things that can happen to a project manager is an assignment with a Japanese client. As most peole think, a project managers job is not all the sane and good. Its like a cigarette with a minor difference buring on both ends….
Why are Japanese clients getting targetted? The reason is primarily the work culture. There are horor stories in reams to be told about that, if you ask around. You can not get out of office till 11.53PM when its the last train to catch- when in this heaven. Otherwise for japanese it is laziness.
But while thier products are famous for their quality, Japanese beat Americans in their own game.
About 7 precise years ago, my sales guy some how brain washed one of the leading banks in Japan to give us a project. The brain wash went something like your stable partner is over billing you. Just to tease him and give us a good reference give a small project and we will make a museaum out of it….
This unfortunately for me worked and myself, the tech lead and business analyst were booked on JAL flight 291 flying out of Delhi.
Regular readers would have already known how finkey am with food, beat Japanese themselves at times. This is amply demonstrated in other chronicles. In fact they are the basis I suppose!
Dear Bhat of our company had already warned me. Mohan ask for Asian vegetarian food otherwise fish is considered vegetarian.
I had told the booking office regarding my requirement and the Ticket, Forex,Visa was all released with customery smiles saying it has been informed and arranged.
The Jet Airways flight from Bangalore to NewDelhi was uneventfull and reminded me of high school days. All hostess wore mini skirts instead of regular sari’s I was used to in Air India. Deveopment is sometimes going backwords too 🙂
Am branded negetive by most people but this feature actualy helps me. I verified my seating, food preferences once again. All hell broke loose when the booking agent at Japan Air Lines told, sorry sir we dont have special meal for you.
With Red eyes, grasping for breath, clenched fists, gritting teeth I resembled Lord Narasimha to people around me but as a enraged stray dog to the booking agent – denied of its dutiefull share of crumb on roads.
What do you mean? How can you do it? I have instructed bombay booking agent and he put it down on the ticket .. now you dare tell me this? The voice rose a few decibles.
Senior ticketing agent came running. Seeing me jumping around in anger in worst mode she first apologized. This works wonder on any angry mongrel. It soothed down my requirements to many levels.
She said We will try to arrange for that sir. Already its time for Flight and is loaded, boarding is pending. She took a walki talkie and sent out a SOS (save our soules) saying one special meal required. Man in Black went running behind her saying its impossible to open the hold again..
After 2 glass of cool water and trippng over my own suitecase – Laurel hardy types and cursing all my bad luck and bad karmas, boarded the JAL flight.
The Japanese efficiency and customer service is legendry. I got a taste of it immideatly. Two different sets of hostess came and marked my seat with some sticker. I thought they are going to deport me the minute I land in Narita for all my bad mouthing. Wisdom allways drawns on us after lots of damage!
The flight took off and we snuggled down to our routine talks and got introudced to each of us properly 🙂 The captian ( name unprintable since it is unrememberable) announced seat belts off and No smoking.
This brought out the small air hostess’es immideatly out of their forrows. They came smiling. It was a old leg pulling I used to do to my Singaporean friend cum collegue in singapore – How do you differentiate between a Chinese and Japanese woman?.
She would point out 3 things like eyebrows, eyelids, height and then blush. I still havent got a valid answer from her.
They just came with their trollies and went away.
Another round of identification followed. One hostess put a small tray of food in my lap and removed the sticker on the seat. So they had indeed arranged for my asian vegetarian meal. Thats customer service!
I dozed off, like a criminal just the day before execution, on his last meal. The sun’s sharp rays woke me up and we landed in Naritha International Airport. With butterflies in my stomach – thanks to the Fried Rice served at Delhi airport, I moved out of the airport.
Only a deaf, dumb would know and equal the pain and problem I went through after this. I know only English and Japanese knew only Japanese ( rare mistakes do occur) . Using sign language was not the best of my methods to communicate after my company had spent enormous amounts of money on training me in various aspects except body language.
Taking the limousine bus which was hourly to Shinagawa Prince Hotel was cool like a cucumber. We got into cardboard sized (king) rooms and called our local sales man Mr Madhav.
The fight between me and Japan started here..
… To be concluded.