Back in 2005 when I was still in business school our MBA program took a two-week trip to Hong Kong, China and Thailand to try and understand how you do business in Asia (I blogged much of it here.) One of my fellow students on that trip worked for a big pharma company and gave some new sleeping pills to take on the flight back from Bangkok->HK->SFO, which seemed like a good idea...except I never fell asleep and basically was up for about 30 hours before I got home and passed out so badly that I didn't feed the dog for almost 2 days (he's still mad at me.)
My recent Tokyo trip was severely lacking in sleep and now I am wide awake and totally jetlagged after about 4 hours of shut-eye this evening.
So, on to some random notes...
One of my favorite games to play on business trips, especially international trips, is to quickly try to come up with backstory for anyone that I see. On this trip I started making other people do it and found the whole thing really fascinating and weird to try and figure out how the locals might also think of us. I found it hard to pull off much good stuff primarily because my frame of reference for Japan is pretty limited. For example, I only had a few possible jobs to give people since I didn't have enough knowledge basis.
On the other hand one of my Japanese friends was able to knock out a couple of really accurate impressions of some random Americans-including one that was totally correct (a guy was called out as a documentary filmmaker and we accidentally found out later that he was. And while you might argue that a filmmaker could be a "type" it was still pretty cool.
At first they all thought I was crazy for the backstory game but then I explained that it forces you to think creatively about the situation and quickly adapt your story. It's also great writing practice to come up with thought-lines to follow. What I found difficult was the transition from spoken to written in these descriptions which is probably why I can't write a novel.
On another note way-off topic note. I found myself listening repeatedly to a few bands and a few songs over and over, which is really rare given my short attention span. What songs you ask? Jimi Hendrix-Spanish Castle Magic; and Queens of the Stone Age-Misfit Love. I just couldn't seem to get enough of either one. And I really can't figure out why those songs in particular worked for me on this trip. Now that I am up at 5am it seems The Who and Bad Brains are the only appealing music.