We took a flight from Delhi to Tokyo. I accompanied my senior colleagues on a trip to the Far east. They were eligible to travel by business class.
In economy class, the space was very economical. I kept rising from the seat often to search for more space to sit. My fellow passenger was a fat German. The German was transiting to USA via Tokyo after touring India for vacation. Although he was sitting in his own seat, his large frame with its gigantic features made me feel more claustrophobic. His hairy side-arm kept touching mine unintentionally.
Upon arrival in Narita airport, my colleagues seemingly appeared very impatient. Being business class travelers, their luggage arrived earlier than mine. Before I could come out of green channel, my colleagues had already exchanged currency. As soon as we came out of the terminal, the CEO without any fore-thought got into a taxi. The meter in the taxi was moving faster than the vehicle itself. When we reached the hotel in Central Tokyo, it had reached a mammoth figure. CEO shrewdly got out of the cab as soon as the Hotel Doorman opened the taxi doors. I was looking at the Director’s face. He hesitantly took out his wallet and grudgingly paid the money.
While checking-in, I realized that the tariff per night was exceeding my daily allowance by 25%. To my horror, the breakfast in the morning would cost extra. My colleagues had no such discomfiture as their daily allowance is larger and they also entail for entertainment allowance. Next day morning, we were to visit a trade fair. I was waiting in the lobby for the colleagues by around 9.00 AM. These gentlemen majestically arrived and announced their intention to have breakfast before venturing out. I said to them I would skip the breakfast as it is very expensive. They didn’t wink their eyes. “OK. Wait for us and we shall come back soon after having break-fast”.
We stayed in that particular hotel for 4 nights. Luckily CEO had bought local train tickets for me when we were on the move. I was skipping break-fast daily. I did not have a proper dinner too. My colleagues too were not having dinners. The Director had brought some preserved and over-spiced snacks from India and was savoring them. I did not see what CEO was doing for dinner. Perhaps, he might be moving out of his room after I and Director retire in our respective rooms. I had no mood to eaves-drop on him, as I tried to get sleep early every night so that I didn’t have to hear the rumbling sounds in my stomach.
In the second leg of the tour, we arrived in Osaka. Fortunately the hotel tariff was less than what I paid in Tokyo. This gave me the luxury of buying some break-fast items in a close-by convenience shop. Every day evening, I used to buy some fruits / yoghurt / Fruit juice etc…and was having them in my hotel room in the next day morning. My colleagues continued to have break-fast in the hotel itself and gladly shelled out extra charges applicable for breakfast.
In an afternoon, we were returning from a business meeting in Kobe and the Director suggested going to Hiroshima on a Shinkan-sen – a network of high-speed trains popularly known as Bullet Trains. We checked out the fares in the ticket machines. Each trip one way cost almost USD 110 per head. Director gave me some currency and told me to buy two tickets one-way for him and the CEO. When I handed over the change and the tickets, the Director asked “I am sure you will find your way back to the Hotel”. They did not return until late-night. When I met them in the lobby the next day, they narrated how they got into a wrong train due to language problem and had to buy fare difference. After coming back to Shin-Osaka station, they again got lost as they took a wrong Sub-way line. After struggling for a while, they had to take a cab to the hotel. Needless to say, all these resulted in extra expenses to them.
The third leg of the tour took us to Seoul in South Korea. I wisely took a spot decision as soon as we reached the Hotel. Like in Tokyo, we had been booked into an expensive hotel in Seoul too. I told CEO that I would like to find a cheaper hotel nearby. CEO tried to discourage me, but I persisted on it. The concierge in the Hotel where I was originally booked immediately got me a reservation in another hotel in proximity and costing 40% cheaper. I regret not taking such an initiative in Tokyo also. After all, we have to take personal responsibility for our own well-being. It is no use blaming others for our lack of well-being.
On the last day, my colleagues were on a shopping spree. Both guys were bent on exhausting all their daily allowance by buying Cosmetics, Luxury brand of belt, an expensive chain containing Amethyst stone, Long winter over-coat, an expensive tie, etc., CEO had a shortage of USD 35 when paying for the long over-coat that he purchased. He insisted that I lend (not sure if it is lending…as I have no hope of getting back this sum from him….) him US $ 35/-. The Director also was short of USD 10 while purchasing chocolates in Incheon airport. Generously, I lent US $ 10 to the Director too. From sleeping hungry in a Tokyo hotel to lending money to colleagues (who draw higher allowances) in Seoul….I have come a long way in this trip.