What is the best part of working in VeriFone? No it is not the work,
but it is the travel.
List of places I visited in the last two years is on the left pane.
Below is some e-mails i wrote to my friends over these period.
Subj: Australia for Dummies...
Australia for Dummies
- And a reference for rest of us!!
Coming in the next two weeks
ADVANCED Australia for Dummies
Australia for ADVANCED Dummies
Please book your copy in advance to avoid disappointment.
U are traveling with a beautiful female in a lift (U 2 are "alone").
Suddenly she says
"What? Who? Me?"
You still don't squeeze her. You just EXCUSE here. Remember Australian
accent is very difficult to understand.
E.g.. WoolWorth is spelt out as W-U-OOh-OOh-El-W-U-OOh-AAr-Thi-Ache
Started the day with Bondi beach. It is called Surfer's Paradise.
water sports going on there. Ok, Ok beach. That's all.
Visited "Town Hall" (another version of Brigade Road in BLR, or Orchard
SIN). Lots and lots of underground shopping area. And also some
buildings - Old Victoria Style buildings. Bought a few items including
Form there went to CenterPoint (or Sydney tower) - A tall (tallest
Sydney) tower (and not a building) with a viewing place at the top.
You can see the whole of Sydney from there. The "Darling" Harbor
is the name - people in AUS are very "loving"!!!), the roads, Malls,
airport.. It was marvelous.
Came down took a monorail running thru the heart of the city, above
and buildings. This gives u a nice idea about how the city looks
Went to a large open-air market place, so huge and so many items
- except a
wife i was able to find all the things i required, there!!!
Sydney has a nice (mostly) underground train service (a double decker
one!!) which goes to all parts of the city.
There are a lot of inter-country marriages. (India/Australia) But
are Indian females and Australian Males. The reverse is not common.
Thanks to my friend Terry, i was able to see the Australian country
We drove down to a place called Jenolan Caves. We (means he) drove
400 Km. The country sides are exactly like what we see in movies
areas of grass land on both sides of the road, sheeps and cows moving
around, small ponds and rivers, cottages...
We reached near the caves around 3:00 pm. It was extremely cold!!.
2-3 degrees. The coldest temperature i ever faced. These caves were
colourful - some places red, some places blue... Inside the cave
a pond - crystal clear water, blue in colour!!! The whole cave was
by nature over 1000,000 years!!!
By the time we came out of the caves it was jet dark (here sun sets
4:00 pm now - it's winter) and had to drive all the way back in
There is no "Good morning" in Oz, it is always "Good Day". If you
friendly to people u are a "BUDDY" to them; if u are very friendly
a "BA***RD" to them. That is how u will be introduced to others!!!
Another holiday, Queens Birthday (AUS people still consider them
as a part
Went to the town - it started raining so heavily - i had no choice
to see a movie. Each movie complex is pretty big. 6-10 movie houses,
games, food stalls - all in one complex. I saw "Twister". After
i came out and it was still raining heavily. Again i had no choice.
in for the next movie "Rumble in the Bronx".
Luckily by the time the movie finished the rain had stopped and i
Subj: It is spring time!!!
One of my enemies has forwarded one of my previous "Australian
report", which said things like "I am having a paid holiday",
seen most of Sydney" etc. to the bosses in Australia - and
this i am overloaded with work this time!!! They are making
in this two weeks i will compensate for all the "no
work" period. :)
Sorry to start my "weekly status report" this way-accusing one of
Sunday, yesterday is the first day i came out of the Sydney office.
celebrate this freedom, along with a friend i went to
capital of Australian federation, a city 300 km. away from Sydney.
you remember "Project Canberra" VeriFone's smart card project
Four hours of drive up, four hours in Canberra, and four hours to
A well planned city, lots of fascinating buildings (both old and
wonderful greenery (is it the right word? It's spring - all
either red, blue, white, yellow or magenta, very little green) and
people!!! Streets are virtually empty during weekends. Weekends
from Canberra come to Sydney or go to Melbourne.
We visited the parliament and had a "sitting" there - yeah,
you to sit in the Senator or Prime minister's chair.
There is an old
parliament, which is now a heritage museum and a new (much bigger)
Security is almost inexistent - you can walk in anywhere. Just think
doing it in India!!!
Also we went to see few gardens (near a lake side), High court
here also you can sit in the chief justice's seat - if they see
can sit in again - for contempt of court in another seat :) ) and
tallest building in Canberra, The Telstra tower, 600 m above sea
on a hill - tower by itself is only 200 meter tall.
One surprising item in Australia - they don't show cricket in TV.
keep on showing Rugby. The match in Srilanka (including
the final in
which Australia played) was shown only on tv for 30
seconds during a
late night news!!!
Subj: In the US...
After giving countless number of trainings to others (to be exact
teaching all of them a lesson) it was my turn to get trained. Had
10 days in the US, in SFO and DFW. Thanks to all the Verifoner's
ex-Verifoner's and my class mates in SFO, i had a nice time there.
During first two days i was in SFO - went around and saw Golden Gate
bridge, Crooked street (a road with some real twists - ultimate
your driving skills) and downtown SFO. The Sunday evening went to
Dallas is a real desert town. Not much people around!!! Without a
your state is really bad - much worse than in SFO. During the evenings
went around downtown Dallas. Visited a few places like Planet Hollywood
(!), Art Museum (had some "real wonderful" art works (which, i as
did not understand, and some real great art works). Went to the
where JFK was assasinated - unluckly was not able to make to the
musuem. Also tried a lot of Mexican food. Some real big malls are
there - as usual did a lot of window shopping.
Was back in SFO again in the weekend. Saturday went out with my class
mates. Had a long drive thru the Scenic Drive (one side sea and
side hills, was too good), and went to a park in Big Sur. Except
waterfall we did not see much there. Sunday went around the Silicon
Valley - saw some companies like Apple, HP etc.
Late Sunday evening back to SIN again, for the usual hungama. :)
All these while I had a complex that people don't understand me and
feelings. After coming to Japan this complex has become so complex.
of 100 people I meet tell me that 'they dont understand me'. Think
state, I am giving a training for 8 people, and only one person
English, he has to translate every statement I say - God alone knows
others understand. No wonder people say it is tough to survive in
The first thing you notice when you land in Japan is that how Japanese
people are capable of miniaturizing things. Look at their currency.
small piece of paper they store 100000 units of their currency and
weighs nothing. Only my Singaporean neighbour 'Smoking Gun' Indonesia
achieved better results in the ASPAC region. This place is unimaginably
expensive. The hotel I stay - a dinner for one person (without drinks)
just US$250/-. Can you think of it? By the by, this time I am not
US$30 per diem. I am going on actuals, else I have to take a bank
pay my credit card bills when I am back.
Last weekend went out for a long walk - The first place I visited
Memorial Hall. Meiji was a Japanese Emporer who ruled Japan for
years from 1860 to 1920. Lots of large size oil paintings depecting
period was there. The next stop was Akasaka Palace where the current
Then I went to Meiji Shrine (this place is full of Meiji memorial
it is a temple in the middle of a very huge Japanese garden. Some
traditional marriage ceremony was going on there - looked like a
scale fancy dress competition. People with painted faces, a fellow
a BIG umbrella, People wearing (or is it riding) BIG shoes etc.
Later I moved on to another street nearby, the fashion street of
(Like Brigade of Bangalore or Orchard of Singapore). Just think
of a street
filled with hundreds of Dennis Rodman's (for people who don't know
Rodman - he is an US basketball icon, a very 'colourful' personality,
wearing clothes etc.) - that is what 'Thakeshita' street is all
Youngsters younsters alone) with green hair, atleast 10 rings in
Also went to a local festival place, mostly like our Temple festival.
crowds walking arround eating all possible things. One thing I forgot
tell - the main food is fish in here. People eat it in all possible
as breakfast, as lunch, as dinner, as snacks, cooked, raw; can you
anything else - that also.... All shops display 'live' menu outside
made up of a plastic like substance.
Apart from these, people in here are very friendly and courteous.
step into the office till evening they work, work and work. Everyone
to the office in three piece suits. Once inside the offcie, no talking
each other, no WWW browsing, no gossiping, no news paper reading.
freak out once they are out of the office. No wonder this country
Will keep updating,
NB: Kannichiva - "Hello" in Japanese
Subj: << NO TITLE >>
Last week I made a mistake of writing a Japanese word as the subject
mail - I got atleast 4 mails back fully written in Japanese. Some
were kind enough to send the translation also; other mails - I just
The second weekend in Japan was much more fruitful. One of my 'students'
took me arround in his car to show a lot of places in Japan.
The first place was Tokyo tower. A systematic way of looting public's
money. The tower is 333m tall, looks more like the Eiffel tower.
Yen (approx - US$ 8/-) ticket to go up. Halfway, arround 150m above,
lift stopped. Got down. Another counter - need to pay another 650
Yen to go
further up!! Again it stopped at 250m. That's all where you can
15 dollars to go just 250m meteres!!! There are also few other attraction
inside the tower building - a trick art museum (tricky way to get
from you), tower carnival etc. etc.
Next stop - 'electronic' shopping area - Akihabara. Mobile phones
available for just US$ 4 (remember US$250 dinner, in the same country),
can be only used in Japan. All the latest electronic gadgets are
here; there is also something that can read your brain waves. Two
pieces are connect to your head, a clip in the ear (the 'ground')
the reading starts it. My brain waves came almost empty (?); I got
depressed; but the shop owner said that it is because I was a cool
During weekends and holidays certain major roads in Japan are closed
traffic, opened for the public to walk arround. They call it as
paradise". Something similar should be tried in MG Road and Brigade
Like I wrote earlier, people are well dressed here. People go for
Sunday shopping in a 3 piece suit. But one odd part - most of them
drive a car, but they 'drive' a cycle.
Service (industry) in Japan, whether it is a hotel or a shop is excellent.
Much better than in the other countries.
The next stop was 'Akasuka' (remember last week i went to 'Akasaka'
lots of names look the same), a temple market street. A long stretch
Japanese cookie/snacks shops in front of a temple. The way you pray
temple is something similar to what people do in Indian temples.
have to wash your hands and legs (leg washing optional) near a well
front of the temple. They you go in front of the God, clap 'hard'
then pray. Except the clapping part it mostly looks normal.
Also visited some toy shops - nothing to match my level; so did not
The hotel I stayed has a beautiful Japanese Garden, one of the best
ever seen. Evenings it was a very pleasent thing to work arround
Will be continuing to Hong Kong and China from here. That and the
stories after the break.. :)
Subj: One country, two systems...
Finally after a long and tiring journey I reached Hong Kong arround
Saturday. As an Indian Hong Kong is the only country where I can
without a VISA. Even after the China handover things remain the
Processions are still allowed, news papers can write 'what they
want' - all
these are banned in mainland China.
The whole of Sunday morning I had to walk arround in some shopping
complexes as it was raining heavily. Hong Kong heavy rains and Typhoons
common; In Japan earthquakes are common (atleast 10 an year).
In the afternoon took a tram to the 'Peak', the heighest point in
(one change here; earlier name was 'Victoria Peak' now it is called
'New Peak'). Got a magnificient view of Hong Kong from there. All
buildings, the sea, and the 'bay' of the mainland - Kowloon.
Later took a boat and crossed to the other side (FYI: Hong Kong is
island near to Kowloon, Kowloon was also the part of the Hong Kong
territory earlier). Walked arround in the temple street. A long
roadside shops - selling all sort of pirated stuffs.
The next day early morning went for a Quick Chinese Visa to go to
China, to a place called Gaungzhou (GZ) where VeriFone has got a
office. In just 45 minutes the visa is ready. Took a train to GZ.
very nice view of the Chinese country side. Mountains, greenery,
moving arround in cycles wearing big hats made of Bamboo etc. The
GZ suprised me; that may be a simple way of telling it. It very much
like Bangalore with three main differences - no autos, but taxis;
Indians, but Chinese people; and two wheelers are generally bicycles.
Everything else looks identical. People crossing roads when and
like, vehicles running in the opposite direction in a one way street;
scale constructions, dust, smoke, tall new buildings, slums, bars
there are even policemen who stop vehicle drivers and asking lincence
some ticky corners!!!! A China very different from what I expected.
Except talking politics most of the things are Ok. If you ever want
politics make it in English (or go to Hong Kong and talk), especially
things like "Communism is Bad' etc. as most of the Chinese police
I heard that once you move away from the big cities, people are poor
living standards are not very good, worse than most of the places
Food is one major thing here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is an event
itself - each taking atleast 2 hours each. It is dirt cheap. A dinner
with drinks and 20 items on the table wont cost more than 100 rupees.
eat all possible things that you can imagine of (and also you can't
imagine). After this experience I have become a vegetarian. :)
Did not do much; except walking in the streets in the evenings.
Then back to Hong Kong and then back to Singapore. Most of the ASPAC
countries are 'over' now. Time to try something 'new'. :)
Till that time,
Subj: I am a multi-millionaire now!!!
When I have a few million to spend what did I do. Of course I travelled.
Think of an Asian country where everyone use US dollars as the primary
currency, people drive Japaneese cars, educated youth talk fluent
pubs and disco's open till 4:00 am in the morning.....
I am sure that you have guessed it totally wrong, unless otherwise
already knew where I went. I am talking about Vietnam. My idea of
(and HochiMinh city in particular) was - No English, hates Americans,
strcit rules etc. All turned out to wrong.
To start with, HochiMinh city is just like any other booming Asian
Lot of new buildings, lots of banks (a sign of economic growth -
chance for VeriFone too), lots of entertainment. Main mode of
transportation is two wheelers, especially a vehicle which looks
similar to Bajaj M80. Traffic flows smoothly even if the roads are
(but slowly) during busy hours; Breaks are applied very rarely.
It is more
like synchronized swimming - everybody is synchronized when vehicles
The currency is the most tough part. One US dollar is 12100 Vietnamese
Dongs (VND) !!!! I spend VND 12,000,000/- for my few days stay in
Vietnam!!!!! Now you know how I became a multi-millionaire!!! You
use US dollars if you wish without converting in most of the places.
People are good and friendly; especially taxi drivers; the most courteous
have ever met in any city (Asian and American). Prompt and no bargaining
even if you are coming out of a five star hotel. The official male
normal trousers and shirts; females wear a salwar kameez sort of
a big cut on both sides. Girls wear 'very nice' (read transparent)
to make them look 'very nice'.
The best part of the story is 'romancing in Vietnam' - this happens
middle of the city. A pair will be going in parellel in two different
wheelers (one may be a cycle and one may be a motorbike!) slowly
middle of the busy road not bothering about anything else, talking,
laughing and 'touching' each other!!!
The Vietnamese language is mostly written using English alphabets,
some strange symbols above and below like
A B C
So one can read boards if needed.
Some sample Vietnamese names 'Key', 'Lay' (male names); 'My My',
(female names). :)
Vietnamese have a wide variety of foods - from pure vegiterian food
chicken feet to dog meat (yuck!!) to 'Wined' Snake (Bhooo!!). Since
month I am a full vegeterian (no kidding, I am serious; Why? for
a change -
one has to experience everything in life - is it not?) I did not
anything. So no comments. :)
One of the most exciting, wonderful and frightneing experience in
as Chu Chi tunnels - pronounced as 'Koo Chi(as in Chiken)). The
approximately 60 Kilometers away from the centre of the city and
extends up to almost 250 kilometeres.
These are the tunnels from which a section of Vietnamese people fought
Americans. There are three levels. Level One is 10 feet deep, Level
18-20 feet deep and level three is 25-30 feet deep. One whole generation
Vietnamese people stayed in these tunnels and fought with the such
enemies like Americans and French, just using ordinary some crude
We went down the tunnels; it was frighteningly dark and humid and
were so narrow. Just biting (as there is no way to hold it with
a small torch light we had to crawl thru the tunnels for almost
to reach the next point. There are also a lot of booby traps; one
move and you are also a part of history. To experience the real
lonliness and helpness one has to do this atleast once in their
Can't belive people stayed in there for 10 years.
Came out; went into the shooting grounds (shooting with a gun I mean).
Tried an Russian made AK47 and American M16 machine guns and fired
real bullets (wow!!). 10 bullets is US$ 10/- Get 3 out to 10 at the target.
Luckily no one arround was hurt by the remaining bullets. ;)
After a quick five day visit back to Singapore again - waiting for