Rains no dampener for efficient Japanese (Japan diary)

By Minu Jain, IANS
Sunday, October 24, 2010

TOKYO - The famed Japanese efficiency was in evidence as soon as Air India One carrying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his entourage touched down in pouring rain Sunday evening. All passengers disembarking were quickly handed out umbrellas, swiftly opened so not a minute was wasted.

Two people waited just outside on the steps to give the umbrellas and others were near buses at the Haneda Airport to collect them. The walk across the tarmac on the rain splattered evening with the temperature down to a bracing 15 degrees Celsius achieved with the minimum of face - despite media personnel lugging laptop bags and bulky cabin baggages.

The tarmac was a sea of umbrellas too as officials and diplomats gathered to receive the prime minister, here for a three-day visit before he leaves for Malaysia and Vietnam.

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Amitabh Bachchan again!

Is there no getting away from Amitabh Bachchan? Chancing about a group of Indians walking down Tokyo’s Roppongi area, where shops, restaurants and bars open till way past midnight, a black youth excitedly said: “I love Amitabh Bachchan.”

Not Shah Rukh Khan, not Salman Khan, not even Rajnikanth, who is a real rage here in Japan, for this young man the only Indian star worth drooling about is the veteran Bollywood actor. Point out that he is in his 60s and he would perhaps be better off finding a younger idol with plenty of new stars dotting the Bollywood horizon, and he shrugs off the suggestion.

“I watched Amitabh Bachchan as a child,” he says disarmingly. Now, that’s loyalty for you.

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The other Indira

There is the late Indira Gandhi of course, but the Japanese have known another Indira well. India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had gifted an elephant named after his daughter to the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo in 1949 in the terrible aftermath of World War II. It was a gesture much appreciated in a ravaged Japan, struggling to come out of the war years.

Indira died at a ripe old age almost four decades later in 1983, her death being covered widely in the Japanese press.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at [email protected])

Filed under: Diplomacy

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