Madhav used to talk in rapid fire English resembling hailstones falling on tin roofs and some broken Japanese.
He took us on a whril wind tour of the clients place which was about 2 Kms from hotel and introduced us to the client. We took a bow to Mr Nemoto San. [ San = Sir, Respect,$%^&* when used on a fellow programmer].
Due to Flight induced lethargy and as per schedule we came back to Hotel with good Madhav. Now he started pleading. Guys do this one project sucessfully and we have a billion Yen business here. I knew that he wanted to complete his quota of sales for the year and retreat to Havana!
I promised on behalf of the team – Not knowing what the heck the project was about, Not having a team to design, implement, Not having an idea of schedule. As usual, I promised sky and it allways fell on our heads – Why I dont know till date.
Under Nemoto san’s carefull eye the project requirements were gathered. On first day we were introduced to the Japanese lunch – all types of fish, sea weeds (food), bright colured things. They were so nice to look at – I mistook it for floral arrangements on dining table. Since we had started the work on a Thursday – I was told only on Wednesdays Indian dish is prepared.
So I just sat back drinking coffee or Tea – whatever contraption it was called and went on Upavasa!! Having attempted sign language unsuccessfuly, gave up visiting eataries around.
One pristine afternoon however, the clients came up to our rescue and suggested why dont we go out and eat – you should be bored with the Indian food here! Bored was I?
The closest to understand was a Italian eat out nearby. I looked at the pictures like in Mc Donalds ( it was also some Mc Kakas) and pionted and asked meat? egg?. One local Indian came to my rescue and asked for something vegetarian. The eat out shop fellow nodded and said aaha !
We seated and were served. I got the shock of my life with mushrooms, lamb chops, some netweet eyes et all.. I was about to vomit when my Indian collegue pointed out.Dont worry they are designer vegetable food – just to ensure you dont feel bad they cut it out into animal spare parts!
Kena upanishad had verses ringing in my mind – “what you eat is what is your mind” but here it was what I had in mind was more important than what i ate!
Beggers cant be choosers. Like a KG kid getting scolded – eat with your eyes closed, I just did it for stomach sakes!
The meetings used to go well into night and Madhav got a hint that, success of the project is directly through the Project managers Stomach and he hatched a plan to introduce us to the Indian restaurant nearby.
We literally ran the length and breadth outside the metro rail station as the restaurant would close at 10PM sharp. We didnt want to wash the empty dabbas and eat left overs right?
Food was mostly North Indian – Famished for 2 days I would have nearly eatan donkeys ears too – Lucky it escaped or it too would have become endangered species just like sharks fin in singapore.
Life was quite cruel on me. I used to have only one dinner a day. The promised Indian lunch consisted of one lump of Rice with green chilly water ( Even a beggar at my home gets royal treat than this!). Nemoto san and his counter part used to launch into financial mumbo jumbo and rarely we could get out at 10Pm to that saviour restaurant.
The net result showed on the project first and on my health next. Since I used to be half asleep ( anything new?) didnt understand the requirements. My Tech lead thought I understood and he slept. The net result was that we had no clue to the requirements.
This is normal condition in most Japanese projects – so we continued. My Weight had dropped down 8 Kilos and the Sphygmamonometer too concluded the same thing.
Finally the fortnight completed and I sighed in relief. Just like Robinson Crusoe marked the days passed in the marooned Island, I too had marked the days in my Dairy. I triple confirmed the flight with JAL this time leaving my Tech lead back there and told him that his return tickect would be confirmed only when client confirmed the project is over. These are small decisions which actually work!!
As custom, the day before we departed to Bengalooru, our Madhav hosted a dinner party for Nemoto san and gang. I was very delighted – one reason was my return to my staple Indian food 3 times a day and oddly Madhav had picked the plush restuarant called The Taj Mahal in Ginza area just like our MG Road.
There is a strange behaviour that Japanese exhibit by race. They dont opppose or conclude in any meetings. They transact all business over drinks. When the boss abuses the worker, he keeps quite and on a drinking night he will give it back in kind to the boss. No hassles. This is a good system of letting go of everybodys throat.
Japanese men have a good way of drinking. If two people are sitting opposite to each other, its wrong manners to let go without filling the opposite persons glass with wine. The same is true for the other party. So you have a Catch-22 situation here. Madhav san ( by this time everything had a san, tubelight san, bulb san) announced that since the restuaurant is closing down at 10PM we need to order some food.
I had already decided to go big time. I told Madhav to order Masala Dosa. Madhav really fell down from his seat. At 33,000 Yens a Masala Dosa was worth kings ransom – 3300 INR.
Cribbing I settled for a Gujrati Thali or what ever and we bade good byes to the client and Mahdav reminded us of the sky.
With tears in eyes Mahdav bade me good bye not that he was so interested in our well being but was worried about his project completion.
The return flight was quite uneventfull. The customer service of Japan is allways fresh in my mind – A cab driver will have a small button which he will press and the back door automaticaly opens – they dont want customer to even take troubles of opening the taxi doors. Alas, India has many centures and generations to reach any where near that zone.
Interestingly the project completed with in schedule but at the cost of few people resigning and moving to new vistas.