Thursday, April 23, 2015

Out in the open

Seoul has been giving us the best temperatures this week. Spring is finally here and we were treated to a burst of flowers. And I managed to drag the family out in the open. Hangang park in center of Seoul by the Han river was the ideal place to go. Lazing around in the sun, we flew a kite in a bright blue sky. Simple pleasures in life!

O for Out in the Open for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Drama Queen- Life without Lifey

"Mom! I think you are in love with the Lifey", My son scolds me. "Appa! I think she loves Lifey more than she loves all of us put together!", lassoing my husband into the argument. He nods from his usual seat behind the laptop, as usual unclear whether he is in agreement with the kids or he has just understood the concept dictated by the webpage. "You've had Lifey in your life for less than a year and you care about that dumb head more than us, you fatty?", the little one pipes in, totally annoyed, standing in his Vitruvian man position except with his hands in his imaginary pockets.

Lifey is my awesome cellphone, short for Lifeline. It is true, I love him. He is invaluable. He is priceless. He is amazing. He is so perfect for my palms and even the softest touch of my fingers, sets him into action at top speed. (Unlike the other men in my life who require many reminders and warnings before which something gets done. Lifey reminds me to remind them too. How convenient!) He makes me a better person: never letting my poor memory ruin my commitments or the birthday wishes, helping me keeping in touch with family and friends, letting me snap away with abandon the situations and scenery that I never want to forget in my life! And yeah, he lets me talk to other people too, when I am bored crooning over him. Though, he never lets me get bored with unimaginable volumes of music, videos, games all with recommendations that perfectly suit my taste ("Thats google invading your privacy and databasing every detail about you", shouted my son once, but who can resist, right? when the stereo quality is exquisite, display so damn crystal clear and the game perfectly suited for me in every way!) 

"He is not a dumb head guys, he is a Smart phone", I cooed, more to my Lifey, than to my kids"And I am not fat, Lifey says that I eat right and walk enough to keep me fit". "I need your phone for a day, just for tomorrow. For Work", My husband said. Appending the last two words which wins over every damn argument. My kids faces were resplendent with glee. "Justice..." someone dared to say.

If you love something, let it free, if it comes back, its yours, if not, it was never meant to be. Let me see how we fare, Lifey- you and me. I am setting you free... Tears swelling in my eyes. 

Life without Lifey was not that bad. I happened to get more things done in shorter time, spent a nice long time with my Cuties and Beauties (my plants and fishes), even made sambhar that tasted kinda nice, finished a drawing, played board games with my kids and re-read my favorite Rebecca. (by Daphne Du Maurier).

But he came back and when I had him cradled in my arms that evening, Lifey was back in business, reminding me of the birthday wishes to be sent, arranging a get together for a friend who was moving, emailing the counselor of the SAT details and reminding me to remind the kids to take out the trash. After a quick scream to get them to move, I was happy to see, Lifey even logged more than 5000 steps for me that day and had given me a star for my effort!

True love. I say. Drama Queen, my kids call me.

N for No cellphone day for ABC Wednesday

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Monitoring Seoul

Korea is slowly but surely opening up itself to the world. Always belittled by the giants of China and Japan, Korea is blossoming into the world bearing its own unique scent. With the electronics and automobile biggies Samsung, LG, Hyundai leading the way, the Koreanisms have reached far and wide. The Korean dramas are extremely popular with the younger generation in China and India, with many of them translated even into the regional Indian languages. K-POP is widely loved and is again quite catching.

There is also a significant amount of interest from the Korean Government to welcome the foreigners into their country and more importantly, keeping them happy. The Seoul Metropolitan government has now made an effort to hear the views and problems of the foreigners living in Seoul. A few foreigners have been selected to monitor the conditions and problems faced by the foreigners and report it to the city so that they are can make a change and improve the conditions and even meet the expectations of the foreigner. I am one of the selected few :)

We were invited for a ceremony and were presented with a certificate and were briefed with the process involved in the program. It was quite interesting although the entire program was in Korean. Then, were taking on a tour to the new city hall in Seoul, which is totally eco-friendly. It was nice to connect with foreigners from different nationalities, chat about each other's issues and just plain enjoy each others company.

M for Monitoring Seoul for ABC Wednesday

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Optimism personified

Doubts. Uncertainty. Apprehension. Confusion.

Can a 40 year old lady who has never been artistic or crafty ever in her life hope to take up a career in the arts so late in her life?  Can she dive into the amazing world of creative people and hope to survive among the naturals? Can she hope to carve a niche for herself along with people who have dedicated their whole life to the arts?

Again, doubts, uncertainty and apprehension even before the taking the plunge to start a career in the arts.

Is it the age? I wonder aloud. Am I too scared to start something new at this age? But I am much more relaxed and dedicated now more than ever along with the copious amounts of "me" time available at this age, I argue. I am much more stable and grounded with no tension and duties so, I guess it is not the age that might be the center of the problem, I discover.

Maybe it is the change itself, I analyze. Maybe I am not sure about entering into the artistic realm which I have never visited before, I consider. But I enjoy doing this. I know I can't wait to curl up in my favorite chair and turn a fresh sheet and to get lost drawing. I have great fun rushing to the stationery shop to pick up the latest color of the doodle pen. I love that exhilarating feeling that envelops me when I see my finished project. I love this change, I decide.

Then it strikes me. I am afraid of failure. I am scared that I might be no good. I am terrified that people would judge me below average. I am devastated that I might not achieve any heights. I brood. I fret. I am heartbroken.

With a mopey face and heavy heart I head to the career counselling session I had enrolled in previously and leave it even more depressed as the whole session was in Korean and I understood nothing. All the Korean learnt over the three years, down the drain. I chide myself. Wasted time, wasted efforts. I am not as smart as I believed myself to be, I scold myself. Cursing myself, feeling crappy, pessimistic and totally down, I just wait just to say thank you to the speaker, more out of politeness than to connect with her.

She was a smartly dressed lady wearing a pair of black slacks with a crisp white linen blouse. She stylishly accessorized her ensemble by wearing a navy blue scarf with red designs on it which made her look trendy-fun yet formal. Tiny bright earrings and smart formal shoes completed her jaunty looks. Her eyes were highlighted with the effective use of the eyeliner and the rouge on her high cheek bones gave her the healthy, cordial look. She was chatting cheerfully in impeccable English and was very informal, and even invited us to lunch with her. I followed without any choice, wallowing in my sorrow. Playing with my food, still gloomy and lethargic, I happened to hear her say that she was 57 years old. What??!! I had gauged her at max 45. Wrong again, I groaned. She was happily discussing what she wanted to do before her retirement at 65. She had decided that she wanted to become a speech therapist for young children. I jerked up from my grey clouds because I couldn't see the connection between a Korean language teacher and a speech therapist. When someone asked her how she was going to do that she confidently replied that she starts classes in Fall. That was it! That was the spark of inspiration that consumed me. She was optimism personified. She convinced me without even talking to me. She made be believe that I can do anything as long as I find the right avenue and put my efforts and love into it. She indoctrinated me to be optimistic and face the future with confidence. She persuaded me to do what I love to do!

Now I am optimistic about changing my career, excelling at it and trying out new avenues in life and future. And I am optimistic about finding my right home when I have to make the big move from Korea to India. With I am sure to find a niche carved just for me!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


All flowers are beautiful. I really enjoy watching, photographing, drawing and arranging flowers. Of all the flowers, the national flower of India takes the cake. The beautiful lotus!

Arising from the dirt and grime, the lotus flower, bathed in sunlight, rises up high- unsoiled by the surroundings- pure and pristine. The lotus leaf is another amazing creation, which doesn't get wet though it grows in water.

It is no wonder that the lotus is metaphoric with purity and spiritualism. The flower blossoms in the warm morning sun and closes at night symbolizing the blossoming of the mind with the illumination of spiritual knowledge and recoiling without it. The lotus flower blooming high and pure away from the surroundings is metaphoric to how a person should live, performing his duty, rising up high over the surroundings and free from attachments like the lotus leaf is untouched by water. The lotus is considered important in the Korean culture too. The Lotus lantern Festival is an amazing display of light and color to celebrate the birth of Buddha. It is an interesting time when we get to make lotus lanterns in numerous colors and designs.

Lotus at the Love river in Taiwan
Lotus leaves at the Love River in Taiwan

lotus doodle
My lotus doodle
L for  Lotus for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Korean Flower Arrangement~ About the flowers

I have been going to this Flower arrangement class ever since we moved to Korea and I have made such good friends and learned a lot!

Flower Arrangement is the term but this art involves using branches, stems, even rocks (as props), twigs and flower buds along with the actual flower. Some flowers fade off so soon while many buds bloom after the arrangement giving a new twist to the arrangement. Some stems shoot out leaves and buds right after they are immersed in water and some just stay the same whether in water or out of it. And then, my favorite kind, there are some flowers that stay on and on :)

Korean Flower arrangement with marigold, astromeria, anemone, spray
The orange and yellow alstroemeria stay on and on for a long time! While the violet anemones die out very fast. The White Spray buds blossomed which made the arrangement so lovely! The Marigold buds bloomed too, giving the arrangement a more whitish look. 

White and green Korean Arrangement with pussy willow, bamboo and white rose
Highlighting the heavy white rose with bamboo, willow and spray flowers. Roses last for a long time. The willow are still looking good! 
The beautiful orange rununculus flowers looked gorgeous for a long time while the purple camillas needed water spray to bloom

Bright Red Gerbera and yellow-orange orchid along with an orange tint from the alstroemeria gives this arrangement the focal point while the asparagus leaves and and the budding twig add character and depth to this arrangement. This is one of my favorite arrangements. It lasted a long time, with the twigs growing beautifully.

Anthurium lasts forever. It was such a thrill to have the pink anthurium in the arrangement along with potted plants which kept this arrangement pretty for quite some time!

Red tulips, violet iris makes this arrangement interesting along with the flowering twigs. 

K for Korean Flower Arrangement for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Japchae- Tasty treat

Japchae is a popular Korean noodle dish that I love making. The chewy texture of the translucent sweet potato noodles along with the plethora of veggies makes it so colorful and tasty.

The colorful, flavorful and healthy Japchae
The authentic Korean version of the Japchae can be found here. My version is an easy, quick-fix, veggie probably Indianish version of the same :)

The sweet potato noodles takes a bit more time to cook than our regular rice or wheat noodles. I cook it with salt and oil to make the noodles stringy and not mush together. I also wash the cooked and hot noodles in cold water to ensure it does not mush together. Keep it aside. It looks nice and translucent. And tastes a bit chewier than the usual noodles. It gives it an interesting taste.

I like using all the veggies I have in my fridge in this dish :) Mainly, I ensure I have the red and yellow bell peppers, button mushrooms and garlic. I love to use bok choy, broccoli, carrots in it.

I sautee chopped garlic, long strips of the onions, colorful peppers, bok choy and spinach in sesame oil. Then, I add the soy sauce, sugar, salt and a pinch of black pepper and let the veggies take in the flavor of the sauces. Then, I transfer all of this to the noodles. After mixing it well, I let it warm and make sure the noodles absorbs the soy sauce too. Last, I add the toasted sesame seeds as a garnish. Easy to make one dish meal :)

J for Japchae for ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Third Culture Kid

Today I understood the concept of Third Culture Kids. At a seminar with Libby Stephens,  I was introduced today to the new breed of kids with a passport from one country, living in another, living with parents of yet another culture. What a mouthful! Imagine the culture confusion and language crisis in that set up!

These kids might be the "cool" kids with multiple passports, who have visited a lot of countries in the world, understand and speak different languages. But they are also the kids who constantly have to make new friends, adapt to different cultures, traditions and languages, missing their favorite grandma.

It is a tough life these kids have to adapt to and my kids had a bite of this fruit. Missing our home, (Bangalore still being referenced as home) crying for days after hearing the news of the death of our cat, missing the good Sagars, the touch of the familiar furniture even; Even more tough was adjusting to to the sub zero temperatures, yellow dust, slippery snow and heavy jackets. It was tough for them.

It was so good to see so many people on the same boat, coping up with the same problems coming together to bond and so good to listen to the world renowned speaker give us hope that all will be well.

I for Interesting Information about the Third culture kids for abc Wednesday

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This week in doodles

This week has been so busy so far with the Korean class becoming more and more complicated and the number of school meetings increasing as my son approaches the 12th grade. I still found some peace and quiet with my doodling :)

Decorating the left hand
decorating the left hand :) 
My ideal world would be sweet!
My ideal world would be sweet!

Oh just lines!

Just letting my mind do the drawing!
In color!
H for decorating the Hand and Handmade doodles :D for ABC Wednesday

Friday, February 27, 2015

G for Grades

With age and maturity, there comes a time in your life when you really understand something! Grades isn't everything. Getting good marks may get you into better school, may help you getting into the job market with an edge, but does it matter so much in life? Marks may give us a jump start, but I find attitude towards others and self confidence makes us the person who we really are!

Happy with that notion, both my kids went to The Valley School when we were in Bangalore. That school promises holistic education to the children (and their parents) and showed me a more interesting tendencies of my child . There was no marks in my kids report card. Instead, there were pages and pages of information about how my child faces each subject, what subject is he curious about, does he try hard to understand the problem and does he strive to achieve the solution by himself and much much more. There is no marks, ranking, comparison and peer pressure. All were fee and equal. All kids had fun at school. 

Moving to Seoul, it was a bit hard to get accustomed to the International school here. Driven purely by grades and points, this system was very hard for us to accept and adjust to. Though the grades of the kids are not known to the each other, it is enormously stressful to the kids and more importantly, makes the parents competitive :( There are just letters marking the grades my son has got and the corresponding marks associated in the report card now.

But having successfully stumbled through this system for three years now, I was pleasantly surprised to see words written by the teacher, commenting on his efforts for his Science project! It made my son and me so happy than the grade he achieved for the project. Made him like the teacher a little bit more. Made my day :)

G for Grades for ABC Wednesday
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