Sunday, October 26, 2014

Active Nation

My general observation in Singapore is – people here live healthy. By that I mean – most of them exercise regularly and eat healthy. And then there are tonnes of marathons and other runs that happen in Singapore every year that a huge part of the population participates.

The Government and associated bodies, seem to take public health rather seriously. Giving a discourse about the Government policies is beyond my capacity, but I felt I highlight 2 important things that have affected me in the recent months:

The Health Promotion Board has had a very active campaign for people to sign-up and commit to lose weight. Collectively the country is trying to shed a million kg (after I look at all the healthy people around me, I doubt they will achieve that kind of a weight loss but a noble idea indeed). And if an entire nation is trying to lose weight together, it is probably all the motivation that you can get.

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) has been promoting active living all this while. Now the SSC has launched a program titled “ActiveSG”. To entice people to actually use the facilities SSC is giving out $100 for each sign-up. That $100 in credits is valid till end of 2015. Swimming, costs $1 a visit (I find it ironic, that I pay less to swim here than I did in India, and the pools are bigger and relatively less crowded). Effectively, that’s more than 3 months of swimming free. And mind you, there are a lot of other facilities you can use beyond swimming (Table Tennis, Badminton, Gymnasium, Group exercises etc.)

With advancements in healthcare, human beings in general have started living longer. However, we aren’t that much healthier than our ancestors. Programs like these should help improve the overall wellbeing of the nation and make the resident population healthier and contribute towards lowering healthcare costs and better productivity off an aging population.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


These days I get to “advise” or “present” to customers in South-east Asia (SEA). Before moving to Singapore, most of my working life involved working “with” the Western world. While the work I do is more or less the same (yeah Enterprise Software related) here are the stark differences I have noticed:

When I travelled from India, I was deemed cheap labour (well, I was!) and judged even before I opened my mouth. When I travel from Singapore, I am coming from a developed nation to some developing nation in SEA. Naturally I get some sort of respect for my place of origin. I am more expensive than their locally hired consultants (many times) and well, I am judged (positively) even before I open my mouth.

My personal opinion is – no one can quite do hospitality like the Asians. Now I know I am generalizing, but I find the concierge and wait staff in Asian countries genuine, helping, friendly and naturally customer oriented. While in the “western” world, at times, I found them pretentious or down right rude. However, this is just an observation, and it could also be because I tend to stay in better places in Asia as compared to the Hotels that I stayed in the West.

Finally, Airports in Asian countries look chic and modern, while those in the West look more utilitarian and rundown. Again, this could be because, the airports that I have visited in this part of the world are newer, handle relatively lesser traffic than their Western counterparts (that I have been to).

Standard disclaimer about generalization based on specific individual observances and experiences apply.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

47 Ronin

I had a rather lazy Saturday yesterday. Early morning I decided to see a movie. And I chose 47 Ronin. Why 47 Ronin? Well because I was so lazy that I didn’t even bother to scroll down the list to see other movie options (47 being numeric, came at the top of the movie options that I could choose). It was a box office disaster and it still rates at 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.

47 Ronin–Trailer

As for me, I loved the movie. I don’t know why. May be I wasn’t that aware of the samurai culture before (Check out bushido for a quick overview.) Or may be because it is based on a true story. Yup. Though the movie says it is “inspired” and changed the story to make it into a Hollywood movie. The true story is quite moving and awe inspiring. Finally, I couldn’t forego the uncanny resemblance to Bollywood movies in which the loyal naukar (servant) will do anything for his benevolent malik (boss) and the beta (son) takes badla (revenge) for the baap (father). Yup, you got the gist.

Anyway, something most troubling and mystical has to be seppuku. The ritual of suicide. Having seen it in many movies before, I didn’t really read about it before till yesterday. The movie ends with a mass gut-wrenching seppuku.

Which brings me to my final fascination. I seem to like Japanese names and words. Especially when you say them out loud. Don’t believe me? Just lock yourself in a room, and say the names given below out loud. These are some of the actual cast of the movie.

  • Hiroyuki Sanada
  • Ko Shibasaki
  • Tadanobu Asano
  • Min Tanaka
  • Jin Akanishi
  • Masayoshi Haneda
  • Hiroshi Sogabe
  • Takato Yonemoto
  • Hiroshi Yamada
  • Rinko Kikuchi

Are you convinced that they sound cool? No? Okay, go back to them and say them out loud again.

Well well, to conclude, I won’t recommend you go see the movie. I just thought I write about it cause I liked it. And here is a cool video teaching you how to correctly pronounce Japanese Car brands.

Real pronunciations of Japanese Car Brands