Archive for February 7th, 2010

Wakayama Japan may not be in your list of places to go or in your travel album. But if you are in the oil industry or interested in seeing the country side of Japan, write it down on your list. I just completed 3 weeks of my stay there and believe me as much as I was initially struggling how I will survive there, I started to like it. This is not a withdrawal symptom but all that time I spent has been a discovery process. The locals were very nice – they could not understand me but always made an attempt to help, using sign language. Sometimes I felt I was in an ancient movie but thoroughly enjoyed the human connection. I stayed near the central train station got to see many authentic Japanese places in walking distance. If you are a sushi lover, Welcome to Sushi Heaven! My colleagues say that they get the best sushi in Wakayama. City has a beautiful coast line marred by oil refineries. Oh well! but that’s the major employment for it’s people. And then the mountains covered in oranges were quite a scene. However don’t go picking one because they are all privately owned and someone will come after you. I learned it first hand! There is a lot of touristy stuff which you can find on the Japan tourism website but none of those sites would talk about Mr. Magic. Mr. Magic Pizza is a cozy little Italian pizza place owned by a gentleman in his 50’s. He is the owner, the cook, the bartender and the entertainer. Not only we had a good dinner, we enjoyed an evening of Billy Joel songs and many others. In a city where hardly anyone speaks English we found an English speaking music major who loved western music. Mr. Magic had never been to US but he knew quite a lot about different states and their history. He asked us questions about economy as he got himself a glass of beer to dine with us. Amazing host! Then he cooked some spaghetti and next, picked his guitar, gave us an evening of “feels like home”. People like Mr. Magic live their life to their pleasure with no regrets. Mr. Magic’s story may not travel too far but if you travel there do see him. And then the cafeteria lady who almost cried as one of my colleagues went to say good bye. Only thing she ever understood in English was thank you. But my colleague’s sign language made a connection with her. Lastly ‘Garam Masala’ – an Indian restaurant run by a dad and his son. Both very quiet, always smiled but cooked the best dishes. One day I walked up to the restaurant and it was closed. As I was about to turn back the dad saw me. He opened the restaurant just for me with a closed sign hanging on his door. I don’t think I would have got that service anywhere – that was truly different! As I leave Wakayama today, I think my business trip had an entire different meaning to it. This is why this is not my travelogue, this is their story – Mr. Magic, the Cafeteria lady and the Garam Masala owner!

and here is Mr. Magic live

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