Every year after the annual GIC staff conference, I visit 8 cities in 8 days to connect with the staff at GIC’s five offices in Asia (Mumbai, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, and Shanghai) and GIC’s three offices in the US and UK (San Francisco, New York, and London).
This blog lists snippets of interesting observations I had on my trip.
Mumbai has a new airport that is very impressive and vast, offering a good opportunity for me to reach my target of 10,000 steps a day (which, sadly, I seldom achieve). It was striking that the general public and well-wishers are kept out of the airport. I could understand this for the old airport building, which was small and crammed, nevertheless, the Indian authorities must have their reason for still keeping the public out.
What I would like to share, however, is my experience at departure. As is the case all over the world, there is the usual security clearance – taking out the mobile phone and the laptop, passing the bags through the scanner, and so on. What was special after the scanning was that the staff produced a book, somewhat like a visitors’ book, and asked me to sign it: name, passport number, country, and a special last column asking for comments. After some thought, I wrote: “Very efficient and friendly”, which really made the day of the security personnel! It was a comment that was fully deserved as the staff had taken most unusual care to be efficient and friendly.
Speaking of airports, someone pointed out to me that in Japan, somehow the aero bridge operator always aligns the aero bridge to the level of the plane door. I looked out for this when I arrived at Haneda airport and I can say, yes it is indeed so. The aero bridge when I arrived in Beijing, for example, was 15 cm lower than the door! There must be something about the Japanese attitude of always aiming for zero defects. I am reminded of what my daughter told me about trains in Tokyo: it is almost a matter of honour for the train driver to align the train doors exactly with the platform markings. Contrast this with Singapore’s MRT where sometimes the train stops with half the train door out of alignment with the platform door!
Being on long flights provides me with the rare opportunity to watch movies. I would like to share two learnings.
“47 Ronin” is a wonderfully inspirational samurai film. Lots of fighting and killing – I did say it was a samurai film! To be a Ronin – a samurai with no master – is considered the ultimate downgrade for a samurai. The memory of the 47 Ronin who put duty and justice before their fear of death has lived down through the centuries as one of the greatest examples of honour and loyalty in Japanese culture. Each year, on December 14th, thousands of people from around the world visit the graves of the 47 Ronin to pay their respects. The film is inspired by their story.
The most memorable quote I got from the film was: “None of us knows how long he shall live or when his time will come, but soon all that will be left of our brief lives is the pride our children feel when they speak our names.” Honour, my friends, is a heritage for our children, as illustrated by this quotation from the book of Proverbs in the Bible: “Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”
“Jobs” is a movie about Steve Jobs, the founding spirit of Apple. The film closed with the wonderful quotation from the 1997 Apple commercial: “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Do we have the courage to be crazy enough?
And just one more Jobs quotation which explains somewhat the craziness: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night and saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . That’s what matters to me“.
What matters to each of us? To do good? To do right? To do our best? To be our best? These are questions worthy of thought and answer.
“LOVE” vs “LIKE”
Finally, on the last leg of my journey, there was this Singapore Airlines crew member who asked how many grandchildren I had. I told her four, three girls and a boy, and asked her in return how many children she had. She said: “Not yet, but the greater challenge in marriage is how to keep it going well.”
I said: “There is a big difference between ‘like’ and ‘love’. ‘Like’ is when our partner pleases us, ‘Love’ is us looking out all the time to please our partner. Two people come together because they like each other, but to keep a marriage going well, the like must turn to love.”
She was so grateful for the exposition about the difference between “like” and “love” – it was enlightenment to her, as I hope that it is to you!