Evanescent Thoughts

Evanescent Thoughts

CANS 2009 at Kanazawa, Japan

with 3 comments

Last winter was the first time I had crossed south India, to attend the ACM-ICPC Asia Regionals at Kanpur and this Winter turns out to be yet another memorable one with me travelling outside India, the first time,  for attending the 8th International Conference on Cryptology and Network Security (CANS 2009) held at Kanazawa, Japan. My paper was selected  in the conference and I was  funded by the conference for presenting it (thanks to them, my first international tour was funded :P). I was all excited because this was the first time I would be flying in an aeroplane. Flying on an aeroplane had always been on my list of to-do things and it was really great to have made it before I finished my college :). So I was all set to start my trip on 9th December. I had completed my apping process well ahead to give some cushion time for preparing for the conference and  do some winter shopping.

8th December :

My parents were the most excited to see me board the flight at Bengaluru. We started from home and had a nice 4 hour drive to Bengaluru Airport. Went to my cousin’s house and picked her up  too :). If it wasnt for my cousin, we would have really struggled to find the route to airport in Banglore. My flight was scheduled at 00.30 hrs on 10th morning and I was at airport arnd 2100hrs on 9th. I was mainly worried about the customs check as I was carrying both my hard disks with me  ( about 600 GB plus of movies and TV series 😛 ). There was a big sigh of relief on my side when they didnt check my stuff. Connected to the Wifi at aiport and bid good byes to all my friends and then I remembered that I hadnt taken my lan cable.

9th December:

Boarded my flight(Thai Airways)m and there I was taking my first flight :). Didnt feel anything during the take off, but had some problem with my ear whenever the plane makes a landing. I had to change my flights at Bangkok and was again online from the Wifi. Bankok airport was big with chinky girls were going here and there :P. I boarded my next flight to Kansai and this one had to stop inbetween at Manila for half an hour and then finally landed in Kansai at around 7.00pm local time. So I had three take offs and three landings in my first plane trip :D. Not to forget the food and the Thai airhostess :P. They kept asking me “Do you want scotch or wine or rum?? ” .. If only I was used to drinking :P. Drank loads of  juices , watched a couple of movies and then I was finally in Japan. Kansai was cold and raining a bit. We checked into Hotel Seagull. They had arranged for a pickup from the airport and I  totally loved the Kansai International Airport. It is located on an artificial island and connected to mainland by bus and trains. So when the plane lands, it looks really awesome like landing on a ship or something :D. I was so tired of the journey. Since it was my first plane journey, I didnt sleep at all. So I was almost awake for around 48 hours. Checked into the hotel and slept off.

10th December :

The actual plan was to get up at 9 and look around Kansai. But I actually got up at 12.30 and by the time I was ready, it was around 3 in the evening. And then we were off to Universal Studios, Japan (USJ). Took a train from one of the stations closer to the hotel and reached the airport and then took at JR pass for roaming around. Train are costly in Japan( well they are not the only ones that are costly. Everything is costly in japan). It was a ten minute travel in local train and it cost some 410 JPY( about 205 INR). Reached USJ at around 5 in the evening at realised it would be open only till 8 in the evening.There was some twilight pass for discount and we grabbed them and started looking around. Went for couple of adventure rides and really loved it :).  I  especially liked the Holywood Adventure ride and The Spiderman Ride. Came out and was happy to see a Mc D. That reminds me to tell u something as a precaution for Indians coming to Japan and especially gultis who are used to hot and spicy food. Japan food is colourful and looks  delicious but no spice at all . Not even a bit. So I mostly kept myself to Mc D that I frequently found at all the palces. Japanese people are so friendly. They dont talk english much. But whatever be the case, they be so polite and explain you in the best possible way. Something I admired in them. And they eat less and no spice in their food is the reason I guess they manage to stay very  healthy. I never could spot a fat woman in my whole journey. So after USJ, we were all set to go back. Took a train from USJ to Nishikoju and had to change trains from there to Airport and reach my hotel from there. But we were lost in between at Tennoji when  we got into the wrong train. I realised it half way the wrong route and had to change trains, come back and board the right one. Was really exciting because train s ervice stops here at 12.00 in the night and starts again at 4.00 in the morning. So we had to rush really and get on to the last trains at all the stations:). That pretty much was my first day in Japan. I loved the trains and the people.

11th December :

After a day in Kansai, I was headed to Kanazawa where the conference was set to take place  from 12th – 14th  December. I had to go back to airport and pick a local train to Osaka and then board a superfast train Thunderbird  bound to Kanazawa. People were so organized here. You could travel in reserved compartments for the same cost as long as the seats are empty the train was so fast. Went through lots of tunnels enroute Kanazawa and one of them was like some 10km  long . Reached Kanazawa around 4.00 in the evening and being the northern part of Japan, this was more colder than Kansai. Checked into the Hotel Toyoko Inn – Korinbho. The room was just awesome with a spectacular view from the seventh floor.

12th December :

This was the first day of the conference. The conference was at Ishikawa Prefectural Museum and was a 10 min walk from that hotel. After having my breakfast, I was headed  to the conference. Did the registration and my presentation was in the first session. So met my Session Chair Prof Mark Manulis and it all began. The presentation went well and we were  set to have the lunch at the Kenrokuen Garden. This is one one the oldest of most buetiful gardens in Japan. It has the oldest fountain which doesnt use any motors but only the natural difference in the water pressure. The garden was so spectacular and amazing. I clicked a lot of Pics and we had a group Photoshoot. And then we were served traditional food in one of the restaurants inside the garden. This was the first time I had to eat with chopsticks. By now, I had made a good rapport with Jorge Nakahara ( whom I initially thought was a student, but turned out to be one of the session chairs in the final day 😛 ). There were cofee breaks in between the sessions and this was the time to interact with different people.  Not to forget the awesome donuts :). They made sure we had around 10 varieties each day. Before lunch, we had one of the invited talks from Prof Adam Smith from Penn State University. In the evening, we were headed to Excel Hotel Tokyo where  our first banquets was hosted. It was so grand and there was so much variety of food and drinks. They served the traditional Sake in a traditional wooden cup. Met a lot of new folks again, one of them being Prof Adrian Perrig from CMU. Had a nice interesting chat and one of the Professors made a nice dinner speech. It was a speech to explain  the sake brewing. It was stored in a wooden barrel which had to broken open with hammer. So some of us were called on stage to do the breaking and  there was a funny presentation on how to break the barrel in the lines of breaking a cryptographics scheme. People were literally rolling on floors with laughter on hearing the dinner speech and some like Prof Perrig excalaimed saying “This was the best dinner speech I have ever seen” . After the dinner we had a ‘gagaku’ ensemble performance. Gagaku is the oldest classical music in Japan, and it s performed at the Imperial Court or temples and shrines for several centuries. It was traditional and elegant. Returned back to room at around 11 in the night after a lot more interaction. Talked to the CMU prof about applying to CMU and he was positive and gave some nice pointers.

13th December :

The second day of conference. Again awesome donuts during all the cofee breaks and nice talks.  We had a invited talk by Prof Adrian Perrig from CMU and the second banquet. This one was about a 45 min drive from conference venue and they had chartered buses. It was a Wataya menu. The food that was served to us was made from rare ingredients taken from adjacent mountains and places. They cooked fish  in the farmer style. Fresh water fish cooked on fire was interesting but again no spice :P. After the banquet, there was a traditional taiko drum performance ‘Gomando Taiko’. The players were dressed in farmer-style clothing. It was composed of two parts: drum for joy and drum for exorcism. It was an unique and courageous performance with the tradition of 1300 years. We were headed back to hotel in the same busses. Met a lot more people over the lunch.Went for shoopping in the afternoon after lunch. This supposedly is my first venture at shopping by myself. Was fun and the shops here  have a great collection. Bought lots of stuff to take back home and for friends.

14th December :

The final day of CANS 2009 and I met Prof Josef Pieprzyk. My paper solved the same problem in Information Theoretic Setting that  his students had solved it in cryptographics settings. It was really nice talking to him  and kept telling me about his trip to India for one of the Indocrypts.  And then he introduced me to Prof Yvo Desmedt from University College, London. He is an exciting researcher with lots of energy and enthusiasm at a very old age. Cofee breaks were more of interaction with people and I really loved talking and getting to know new people. In one of the breaks, there was this guy Jerry Ray who came and introduced himself as the CEO of Secure Age. Its an MNC with various offices at San Francisco and lots of places( which I dont remember now). He was here to meet people and look for some new ideas for his company. He recently seems to have started a new office in Tokyo and invited me :). He was so nice to offer me his card and asked me to call  whenever I come to Tokyo or was interested in doing an internship :). Lunch and Banquets were the interaction times :). During banquets, it was so informal with professors telling about their wifes and lifes :P.On how they met their wifes and life changed after it :P. It was nice listening to them :). We also had a inivted talk on this day from Craig Gentry. His talk was “Computing on Encrypted Data” and it was more on my lines except that I was working with a the same problem on different approach. Really liked his talks and got soem new ideas to work on. Later met him and had a chat over lunch. Went for more shopping as the conference ended. By now I had almost spent my 46000 JPY that I brought with me :P.

15th December :

We were supposed to check out of the hotel today and had no idea what to do after that. So I checked out and  went out to check out more places in and around. Went to the Kanazawa Castle Park and it was awesome. Came back to hotel and was drinking loads of cofee from the cofee vending machines. Though I had checked out, they let me stay in the lobby(where there was free wifi again :P). Left to Kansai Airport on Thunderbird train at around 6 in the evening and spent the rest of time at the airport, online. I hadnt slept the whole night. Kept chatting with some or the other guy online 😛 and downloading too :P.

The Trip Experience :

Looking back, I definitely feel like coming back to Japan with my friends and roaming around. Though with Indian food packed 😛 and loads of cash. Cheap shopping is an oxymoron in Japan :P. Apart from these, I really liked the Japanese people. You look into some one, be it a guy or  a girl irrespective of the age, they will slightly bow their head and wish you.  And one more notable thing over here is that life is very peaceful. I havent seen any political chaos or stickers at any of these places. Everything is well organized though. I asked a friend of mine who is studying in Japan about the politics and how people manage to stay low on politics and he replied saying he has been here for about 6 months and is yet to figure that out :P.

The conference was exciting indeed and so was the hospitality. The steering commitee announced that this was the biggest CANS ever and the best organized one with lots of notable people attending.  Turns out that I was the only undergraduate here and every one seems to be surprised on when they ask me “So which area are u working for ur PhD ? ” and I reply saying I an undergraduate. Met loads of people .. French, American, Egypt, Germany, Italy American, Mexican, Australian, British, Japanese, Chineese couple of folks from Microsofy Research USA, IBM Research, AT&T labs and  private corporates.  Got to know about their local traditions :D. I am really happy that my first conference turned out to be so amazing. And not to forget, I got the proceedings in which my paper appears. Its LNCS book no 5888 pages 21-40 :D.  My only disappointment being that I didnt stay there till it started snowing :(. Looks like its due snow 3 days after my departure. Happy memories and I am looking forward to the Bombay trip to RK’s home next week with a gang of 11 😀 . And finally, thanks a lots to all those people who helped me in the travel preps. My cousins Veni and Vandhana gave me so much tips that I almost felt comfortable venturing out :D. And to sudharshan from Japan who helped me a lot in getting to know stuff here and giving me  his voip 😀 . I called up all my friends back home and did some thing funny too :P(more on tht later). Thanks for the CANS commitee for the funding and Prof C Pandurangan for  giving me all these opportunities :).

Kanazawa is a beautiful place to visit and especially the Kenrokuen garden and the Castle Park. Kanzawa literally translates to  “gold land” and u can see a lots of shops selling gold artifacts and leafs. A great place to shop if u have enough money :P.  A mix of modernity with natural surrounding. Thank to CANS 09 for choosing this venue. The next CANS is set to take place in Malaysia :).


Written by Sathya Narayanan

December 20, 2009 at 6:03 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Nice that you enjoyed the trip 🙂

    Bonne chance for more trips like these in future =D

    I am still wondering how you’ve managed to remember all those names? :S (took notes !?)


    December 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm

  2. PS: emirates pillows are way cooler than thai airways 😉

    thai pillows make my skin do weird stuff :S


    December 20, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    • ok da.. i accept u fly a lot 😛

      Sathya Narayanan

      January 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

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