Monday, 9 November 2009

you take the high road

This morning was spent with household mundanities; the afternoon was more interesting. I took a trip to Higashi Ojima, in a flat reclaimed land area east of Tokyo where much of Tokyo's Indian community resides.   There is an Indian ingredient shop, Namaste,  tucked under the railway line there that's run by a Japanese man who speaks not only Japanese and English but Hindi as well.   Many of the ingredients available there are not generally available in Tokyo - fenugreek, cardamom, fennel seeds, asafoetida among others.  I bought a few bits and pieces for myself but also some for a Canadian friend of Punjabi extraction who I am going to visit tomorrow in Niigata, a place where such ingredients are unlikely to be found at all. 

I am taking the opportunity to go to Niigata, on the Japan Sea side about two hours from Tokyo on the Shinkansen,  since Hiro is off on a business trip to Okinawa from tomorrow till Friday. (Okinawa is a group of far south islands that are probably closer to Taiwan than Japan - not far from where the Battle of Iojima / Iwojima took place), Despite the temptation to go with him and wear sleeveless shirts for a few days,   I am not.   Hiro's company are in the unenviable situation of being very closely scrutinised by the govt. audit agency.  If I were to go, even though I would be paying my own way, it could be misinterpreted as Hiro traveling at govt. expense for personal benefit. He is not allowed to stay for the weekend, even though meetings finish on Friday afternoon...  It's a bit silly really but I guess it is the pendulum swinging back sharply.
The policy extends to frequent flier points as well.  Individuals aren't allowed to accumulate  points for tickets spent with govt money.  (A policy in line with the Aus. govt. policy AFAIK but not inline with the US govt policy.)  However they don't actually use the points to fund other in company trips - the points just get  'lost'.... I guess it's probably the govts way of giving JAL and ANA  WTO permissible subsidies....

So Hiro is off to Okinawa and I am off to Niigata.
And no doubt I will have more fun.
I have put Hiro on notice not to eat any good sea food incase it looks too suspiciously like he is enjoying himself....