Friday, April 30, 2010

Arita

What happens when you pack 50 ladies on board  a bus and that too without their kids..... :P
Its commotion confounded and thats what exactly happened today. 50 of us headed towards Arita, the Porcelain town. This is an annual Porcelain fair which happens during the golden week from 29th April - 5th May at Arita. More than 600 shops sell porcelain wares. They are certainly a beauty to set your eyes on but the more interesting aspect here is you can bargain :P. Funny as it might sound, but Japan doesn't have much of bargaining places and this is one of them. So, feast your eyes to the rich stuff all along the way and bargain too. (Wow I felt so happy I could bargain after a long long time :P). I was slightly taken aback with the prices with some vases priced upto 2-3 lakh yen :) and so I went looking for some cheap and pretty stuff.  

So, here you go feast yourself as they are a real beauty (Forgive me for my photography am not that good at it :P)

On route to Arita

At a Private Museum

Tea Time

Majestic 

Funny isn't it?

Kings and Queens




On sale



Porcelain street (Here starts the journey to cover the 600+ shops)


One of the shopkeepers allowed me to click inside.







The cheapest I could find 


Lovely vases on display


I couldn't help admiring this :)







See those huge vases :) Like those from Aladin's time :)


Cute Owls


And finally what I bought. Aren't they pretty :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The bus ride...

The mail from him read "Am in India on vacation (Call me @.....)" .... her mind raced 2 years back when it all started....

A chain of mails had triggered her friendship with him..... She felt so complete with him. Mails and Calls flowed until they met. Their eyes locked the moment they met.... they talked unaware of their surroundings..... They knew they had fallen in Love.... They walked hand in hand on the beach....and felt they were in Paradise..... 

Everyday she had the same dream...... He was leaving her for good......

(She boards the bus .......  2 hours to home......)

And then, he had to go to Malaysia for his new job.... She cried for fear of losing him in an alien country .... She felt her dream was coming true.... He reassured her and left and nothing changed...... 

He came down for his brother's marriage and introduced her to his family.... She started to dream of a lovely new family.....

(1.5 hours to home)

He went back.... His calls and mails grew lesser and lesser.... She didnt know why..... Her dream was coming true..... She confronted him .... He denied....  Mails and Calls stopped......... She felt helpless...felt like ending her life..... Her life was meaningless without him but her life was also attached to another person.... Her mom.... She stopped....

(1 hour to home)

And then he called... He had found someone.... the true love of his life as he called.... She was devastated.... the promises, love, affection all looked like sand washed away by the water of the beaches..... 

She poured her feelings to her friend Susan, in Malaysia........

She cried and cried..... but the tears could not bring him back..... She cut herself from everyone and withdrew into a cocoon.... She had lost the colors in her life............. 

(0.5 hour to home)

The bus driver put on the brake suddenly and she was jolted to the present.... She looked at her mobile.....and dialed..... The familiar voice which sent butterflies in her stomach answered .... 

He: "Hello...."..... 
Se: "Uh.... hello, its me?".....
He(Pause) : "I knew you would call"
She: "I need to arrive at a decision...." (Pause).. "Do you love me still?"
He(Pause) : "No..... but if you insist I will talk to my parents about you....."
She: "Do you love Susan?"
He: "Yes...."
She (Taking in a deep breath swallowing the tears that brimmed in her eyes): "Ok, bye forever... All the very best in your life...."

She cut the call ..... tears rolled down her eyes.... She felt she had loved a stranger...... A stranger who had turned her life upside down and now denied recognizing her.... A friend she had trusted had broken her trust .... 

"The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep "


She had reached her destination.... Her mom greeted her at the door and they did the bear dance as usual..... 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Appraisal Time!!!

Everything is Rosy now!

Baashan Shuru.....


Al izzz Weelll!!!!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I am just a coffee bean

I am just a coffee bean. 
Born Alone and will go back alone.

I am just a coffee bean
Green and Oval in Shape
Engulfed by the pulp of the Cherry

I am just a coffee bean
Waiting to be processed and roasted
To brew that aromatic smell 
That kindles your senses

I am just a coffee bean
Tully's calls me French Roast
Coffee Day calls me Fresh n Blend
Starbucks calls me Cafe Estima
Caribou calls me Lakeshore Blend

I am just a coffee bean
Caffe Mocha at times
Expresso at times
Caffe Latte at times
Americano at times

I am just a coffee bean
Together with milk and sugar
I will form that foamy froth 
That lingers on your lips 

I am just a coffee bean
And I will always remain a coffee bean

P.S. A lot of work goes into making the perfect coffee for us. Read more here.
The images are from various sites with due copyrights to their rightful owners.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I appreciate you..

Anu loved my post on the tag she passed onto me so much 
                                     that she gave me WOW.... my first blog award :) :)
Am totally honored... (Please add all the adjectives you can think of .... Am all smiles)


Thanks a ton Anu.... Now like she skipped the tag and passed on the award only... I will also follow suit. :)


Uma      - I just love her posts which strikes a chord somewhere within you.
Mahesh - His posts are so touching and so this award to him....
Leo         - Mind blogging Work
Anwesa  - Sad poems but yet so true :)
Vibhuti   - Her stories are simply so sweet and nice :)


And deary deary Uma was so sweet... she passed on to me my 2nd blog award...... am totally floored............. :) ... She says my blog has that little bit extra... oh my my... Don't you people like the Cherry :)


This is what I am supposed to do on receiving this award: Write 3 things which I like about myself, post a picture I like most and pass on the award to 5 more people !!!!

3 things about myself (uh... oh.... now .... what shall I write....  am bored of writing so am going to sing..... anybody hearing me ??? )


1. To be sung in the tune of "Oonchi hai building... lift teri band hai....." remember the Anu Malik song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uz8ZTQ6UyT8)
Kahe tu sincere.... life toh short hai.....
Jee le sweet life ko.... jab right time hai...

2. To be sung in the tune of "Der se aana... jaldi jaana... ae saahib ye theek nahi" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV4AuBFq7Bg)

Time se aana... Time se jaana..... Ye punctuality ab theek nahi....

3. To be sung in the original sound track (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8uIy88kII0)

Ye dosti hum nahi todenge..... chodenge dam magar tera saath naa chodenge...... 

So that's it about me (Sincere, Punctual and Friendly) 
Now my favorite pic time. This is a recent one taken at Mt.Aso in peak winter.... Isn't it amazing... all the snow and all.... (Well this was the first time I was seeing snow so was pretty excited) 

Now whom shall I pass this onto .... ..... Hey hey kitte jaa rahe ho ...mujhse bachke kahan jaoge Kaalia..... just kidding :P
Anu - Am loving her travelogues on Binsar
GNSD - To keep you motivated for your fitness plan ... I know you can do it
Aryan's Mom - You are super duper cool Aryan and this is for you 
Swaram - Love your posts
Titaxy - Loved her photoblog :)
And the icing on the cake..... I just couldn't believe this............My post "360 Degree Fukuoka - Travel Special" is up on Blogadda's Tangy Tuesday Picks...... Wow am super duper excited......

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teen fashion ....

If you are wondering why I am writing this post.... that's because I am/was frustrated.... 

I had to shop for a teenager over the weekend and the sad part of the story is its really really very very difficult. Options are plenty but when it comes to choosing, you just can't decide. Is the color cool, Is the dress cool, Is the design new or old, Is this fashion still there.... so many questions were running through my poor mind :(. 


Teenagers these days follow a different fashion statement altogether and that makes things worse to decide. I wish I had a jaadu ki chadi (magic wand) which would make things simpler. Things were made worse by my colleague who was telling "Shilpa san, you first pick the clothes, then I will choose...So, we will have two-level filtering". Well it was for his sister we were shopping and this statement of his added to my trouble. (Pehle toh shopping karo upar se help bhi nahi milti.... abe yaar na toh teri behen ko dekha hai na photo dekhi hai... toh decide kaise karoongi.... :(  ) 


When I attended college 8-9 years back, probably fashion was a down statement. People preferred to be seen in more comfortable dresses for the season than wearing branded or for that matter making a fashion statement.  At that time, Westside, Globus and the Mall Culture was slowly picking up and was more prominent in Bangalore than in Chennai. Thinking of it now, it has grown by leaps and bounds. 

4 years back when I went to my college, I could see it had invaded the college campus too :P. Students happily punching away on their mobile phones (although its supposed to be banned on the college campus), tamil replaced by the ishtylish english, cool clothes and footwear and yes I did feel out-of-place (felt more like a country girl). Out-of-place in the very same place which was like my 2nd home. Although I might be about 3 or 4 years older to them, I felt I belonged to a totally different generation (So much change in 2-3 years...phew!!!). 

When my mom bought me clothes as a teenager ... I never liked them... I preferred to choose them myself.. than let her choose them.  Each one of us has a definite way we want our clothes, and most of us (I can say 80%) are choosy when picking clothes. At times, when others pick clothes for us, we do "TRY" to like them but then somewhere somehow we don't whole heartedly like them. 


Whether we are hep or not, whether we are highly fashionable or not, our taste of clothes grows with the age. As kids, we wear whatever our parents buy for us, as teenagers, we want to wear whatever is the latest and cool fashion in town. 10 years down the line, we turn towards fashionable but more sober  and comfortable dresses and further more, we are still fashionable in a remote way and we wear more of what we are comfortable in. So, given all these proof, its certainly a difficult job to shop for a teenager.

After this shopping fiasco (I will know the results only when the teenager see those clothes.... Am really nervous), I understood my mom's predicament. Buying clothes for yourself is at times so confusing and to buy for someone 10 years younger to you is even more confusing. No wonder, me and my colleague shopped for 8 hours to decide on 3 clothes for his sister (the teenager in question) !!!!



Sorry mummy for making you feel bad whenever I didn't like the dress you bought. I now know much difficult it must have been for you.


P.S. If someone could give me tips on how to shop for a teenager, Please do so... I would be enlightened.
Pics are courtesy Google.co.in... with due to copyright to their rightful owners :)
You may and may not agree with my viewpoints and you are welcome to differ with them :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

360 degree Fukuoka - Travel Special

Looking out of my balcony on this bright sunny day, I can't but marvel about this place which has been home to me for the past 3 years. Everything about this place is so very nice except my office (Roti, Kapda aur Makaan ke liye kaam toh karna hi padega na :P)

Jokes apart, Fukuoka is technically the most populated city in the Kyushu island of Japan. Certainly not as happening and densely populated like Tokyo, Fukuoka is a metropolitan city with lush greenery. It cannot be called as a tourist destination but this place forms a central region from where you can cover most of the places in Kyushu Island and this is what I exactly did. So, I bring to you here in these series of posts my travels around this part of the globe.
Fukuoka as seen from my apartment
Traveling in any part of Fukuoka or Japan is a pleasure. Fukuoka has a well developed and perfectly streamlined transport system. If you know Japanese people, you will understand  what I mean by perfection.

Buses arrive on the dot of the minute and leave on the dot. (I used to wait for hours for buses like 5E and PP49 in front of my college to take me home.... now this is like a cakewalk). You can check bus schedules here

Subway runs through the entire city making traveling a sheer pleasure. So beat the traffic and hop onto the subway (Well I must tell you here that traffic in Fukuoka is 1/10th of Bangalore's traffic jams). Limited Express and Shikansens zig zag to the rest of the country.   Limited Express take a longer time to reach any destination but are cheaper than the Shinkansens. Shinkansen as you all know is the bullet train but then you also need to pay a good price (Everything comes with a price tag) but then please do travel in one just to enjoy the speed of this train.

The main/hub station here is the Hakata Station/Hakata Eki. So, you can just book your ticket and zoom away to the destination. You will also find a lot of maps, guides, places to be visited in the destination et al for  your guidance. If you can't find an English one please do ask at the Information desks. The biggest problem here however is the language. English speaking people are less and Japanese people do try a lot to help you. So, if you trying to converse with them, please don't rattle off in English, please speak as slow as possible emphasizing each word and using as much of actions as possible. The below links will help you in timing your trips without much hassles. You can check Train schedules, fares, arrival, departures - here.

And if you didn't know, Fukuoka also houses an International Airport (My odyssey to India :)).


So lets now roam about Fukuoka now. Hop on Shilpa's Express as we discover Fukuoka. :) A point of note in any Tourist place is please ask for English pamphlets or maps for the place. Mostly the pamphlets will be displayed at the entrance and if there is no English pamphlet, please do ask for the same at the counter. Strict advice to veggies, please carry food around as you might not get much of veg stuff. 


My first stop is at Nokonoshima. This is just simply beautiful garden in Nokonoshima Island.  You can roam around the place and enjoy the beautiful flowers and scenery. Take a bus to Noko Ferry Port and then the Ferry to Nokonoshima Island. You can then either  walk to Nokonoshima Garden or else take the bus to the same (For people with leg problems, the climb is quite steep so please take care).   The best time to visit this place is during Sakura/Cherry Blossoms. 
The left side of the garden


One of the flower beds
Another flower bed
Right side of the garden


Cherry Blossoms
Lets next stop at Uminonakamichi. This is popular for the Dolphin Show and the Aquarium. (Psst. Psst.... I really love their dolphin show which is so very sweet and the Aquarium too.. so you have to just tell me that you are going there and I will be the first one to accompany you :P). Besides these, you have a theme park, not exactly theme park, rather a large area with rides, cycling path, lot of outdoor activities for kids (its actually for kids but then no harm in letting out the kid in you :D ). For this you will need to take a bus to TNC, Momochihama and then the Ferry to Uminonakamichi Island. 
En Route Uminonakamichi
Marine World --- Dolphins here I come

Aquarium - this is real big one (Ok the biggest I have seen :))



Play Time
Momochihama Beach and Fukuoka Tower is something you wouldn't certainly want to miss out in Fukuoka. Although, this is an artificial beach, this is also the most in demand place in the summer times to escape from the humidity :). So you can have a nice swim in the beach and relax and enjoy the cool breeze. Below is a view of Fukuoka Tower and the beach from my office.


Ohori Koen Park is another must-see place during the cherry blossoms where the entire park is covered by these trees. Its just a totally pretty site.  This is 2-km stretch park wherein you can take a walk or just relax enjoying the beautiful scenery around. A large pond in between attracts a lot of birds too :). So, take a break and chill pill here.


Ohori Koen Park


Hakata Dontaku is a colorful festival in Fukuoka. Held during the Golden week every year on May 3rd and 4th, this festival showcases really colorful parades and floats, kids and elders in colorful costumes and traditional kimonos playing some traditional instruments or clapping with wooden spoons. Also, this parade includes an International float and Indian dances as well :). Check out the videos below.








Below are the places which are not any tourist attraction and are rather the shopping places of Fukuoka. So, for girls who are mad about shopping and window shopping... please go ahead :P


Two things which are most popular in Japan - One is the point card system wherein you can get some discounts or free gifts and the other is the gift wrappers, I just love the way the shop keepers wrap up each gift for you free of charge. Also, if you are taking any fragile items home, you can always ask the shop keeper to pack with packing material. 

Marinoa City - Well this is like a all-in-all huge shopping mall or rather a shopping playground.... What I like about this place is you can get clothes whichever size and shape you maybe.  (Let me tell you my sad story... I found it hard to find clothes for me because I was overweight and Japanese girls are really slim and trim ... Until I discovered Marinoa City... So am happy happy now...). Please do give these shops a try (you may/may not like) - Axes Femme (I find their clothes a bit different from the other shops), Edwin (for jeans galore), Nittori (1 stop destination for all your home needs...), well you can just roam around and discover this place...
(Secret: Prices are lower during the sale season... but I always see sale whenever I go to this place.... Till now I have seen golden week sale, silver week sale, spring sale, winter sale, autumn sale  .... but stuff is good during sale also ... So go for it...)



Marinoa City
Area: Tenjin

Mina Tenjin - This is a 8 floor mall in the core of Tenjin which caters to probably a lot of things from Accessories to Casuals to Formals to Spa... and whole 2 floors of UniQlo

Underground Tenjin Plaza - Well I just love to walk along this place.... Really cool and certainly doesn't look like Japan. It gives you the feeling of walking in a heritage building. The whole path has kind of cobbled stones feeling and a lot of architecture can be observed on the roofing. Very Good for Window Shopping and enjoying some good view of people loitering around with a hot Starbucks coffee. 

Solaria Plaza, Iwataya and Marco - Well decorated and glamorous malls. Good for window shopping. These are located close to each other so you can get out of Marco, then go to Solaria Plaza and then to Iwataya behind it. Iwataya has a whole floor only for cosmetics and is sure nice to look at all the girls being decked up. In general the entire area is a shopping area, so you can take a stroll around.


Back Side of Solaria Plaza
Shintencho - Another area to spend your time (just behind Solaria Plaza). One shop caught my attention here though. Reimei sells a lot of home decoration articles likes vases, clocks of venetian glasses, tea sets, carpets, night lamps, decoration pieces (although on the costlier side) but worth a try if you are looking for something to take back home. (Well I did find some  Indian stuff here and it seems the owner travels to India to get those stuff)

Area: Canal City 



Canal City - What I like more about this place are the shows which are organized the year round. The mall shaped in a peculiar half-oval structure houses a theatre (3-D movies are also filmed here) as well as many shops. So, you could see a show, watch a movie and then shop about. 




More links of the shows can be found here (Couldn't upload all the videos)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L2usk81jYY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACRngI3JEAE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGyqMtSviVY


Area: Hakata

Hakata Station - Hakata is the old part of Fukuoka and particularly famous for Hakata Dolls - One of the major souvenirs to take back from Fukuoka. 

Yodobashi - One stop for all electronic items. More popular is the point card which they issue. Each Item you buy gives you some points and you can either use them (which will be subtracted from the total amount) or add them to your second purchase.

Area: Hawks Town/Momochihama

Hawk's Town - Well the main attractions here are the bowling alleys and the theatre. This place also houses some shops for clothes, a 100 yen shop seria, GAP, and the best I like here - Glass land. This place sells glass articles which are really sweet to look at. 

Bowling Alley @ Hawk's Town
HRC (Hard Rock Cafe)
And well that's all about what you can see in Fukuoka. If you want to really stay in touch with what's happening in Fukuoka... You can check out the online edition of Fukuoka Now, a monthly Magazine.


Part-2 will continue with visit to other places nearby Fukuoka. See you till then.........


P.S. All photos and videos have been taken by me/my colleagues.
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