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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

IKEA in Seoul

Happy Lunar Year to all my friends in the blogworld! Welcome to the year of the Sheep :)

It is a time of the year when Seoul is empty as this is a time when Seoulites visit their family back in their hometowns. So, we took this opportunity to visit the massive IKEA Furniture store that has opened on the outskirts of Seoul. It took 2 subway transfers and one taxi ride to reach that place.  

IKEA in Seoul
IKEA, close to Seoul

IKEA has been so crowded ever since it was opened in Korea few months back. That is why we took this opportunity to go there on a less crowded day.
2nd biggest IKEA
This supposed to be the 2nd biggest IKEA store in the world. Believe me, it was massive. We just skimmed over the store. The chocolates were the reason we went there in the first place :)

pretty pieces in IKEA
pretty pieces in IKEA
 The store was not so crowded as it was a few months ago, it was still filled with shoppers doing their holiday gift shopping.

IKEA Seoul
As usual, the furniture there were stylish, cheap and colorful

Thankfully, it was not too crowded on this day!

IKEA Seoul
Beautifully packaged furniture.
 Not wanting to do 2 transfers back home, we decided to take the KTX back. The KTX station is so close to the IKEA, only 10minutes by walk.
KTX station close to IKEA
The KTX station.

The long walk through the station

I slipped on the station while climbing down the stairs and ended up having a sprain and out of commission for 2 days atleast :(

F for Furniture and Sprained Foot  for ABC Wednesday

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Drawing Seoul

Yet another interesting week! I had entered my drawing for the Seoul Typography contest held by the Seoul Metropolitan Government on the first week of January. I have a passion for doodling and I had used doodling with the idea of depicting the four seasons of Seoul as my entry for the contest. I was selected for the final round last week and this week, my drawing was selected to be one to receive the Special Commentaries award :)

Special commentaries at the Seoul Typography Award

Feeling soo happy! My drawing is now under the copyright of the Seoul city so I am not able to display it to you all. Anyway, here are some more of my doodles. Do see more of my doodles in instagram account here.

Cheers to life! 건배 :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chilbo - The art of Enameling

How time flies when you are having fun!

The past weeks have kept me really busy learning some quite interesting crafting techniques. I have been trying out Chilbo art or Enameling. In this art form, 7 kinds of precious items gold, silver, lapis, crystal, coral, agate and pearl have been used in the earlier days to make jewellery.

I was able to attend this program because of the Itaewon global center in Seoul. I am so glad I live so close to this center that enables me to take part in all these fun activities and explore more and more about the Korean culture. We could do the enameling on pendant or a broach or a key chain. First, inability to choose between broach or pendant. Happy to say, I overcome that indecision by choosing to make two: pendant and broach :)

Chilbo art on a broach
The broach base

Chilbo art on a broach
The pendant base on which we used the Chilbo enameling

The base was available in many different colors. I had a tough time choosing the base color.

Base color choices for the Chilbo art in Seoul
Too many choices for the base color!
We used a fine spatula to coat the base with glass powder mixture. We also had the option of using a transparent or an opaque base! More choices :)

After finally choosing my base color, we used different colored glass pieces as opposed to the real precious stones. We used fine tweezers to make designs on the pendant. 

Learning Chilbo art at Itaewon
We used glass beads to decorate instead of the precious gold, silver, coral 

Chilbo pattern using glass beads in Itaewon
My Chilbo pattern 
 This was my pendant design. Apparently I had used a thick layer of the base glass mixture and the glass beads design that I had used was small.

We then "cooked" the glass pieces in this special oven at around 800 deg C (!) melting the glass and giving it a lustrous shimmer. 

My piece looked a totally different color when it was hot and turned out to be in another color when it cooled down. Another interesting technique was to wear some heat resistant gloves and use a thin metal rod to mix the glass beads into a mosaic pattern. That stirring of the liquid glass beads made very interesting patterns on the pendant!

My mosaic pattern. It was quite a thrill to stir in the glass mixture at high temperatures! I was quite pleased with the heart-like design that the random stirring resulted in!

Beautiful Chilbo patterns done by the Teacher
Beautiful Chilbo patterns done by the Teacher!

E for Enameling for ABC Wednesday

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

D for doodles

Doodles to brighten up the day!

Red Doodles for the sun
Sun in red doodles

Doodles for the Valentine's Day
For the valentine's day coming up!

Flower doodles
Just a flower doodle

doodles in black
Just a doode done on a cold foggy day

D for Doodles for ABC Wednesday

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Handwriting day!

It is National Handwriting Day in America today! John Hancock, the first person to sign the declaration of Independence had a bold handwriting was born on January 23rd. His birthday is celebrated as National Handwriting Day.

I am a big fan of writing by hand. Using the keyboard is now an easy habit but I still find the pen in hand makes me focus more and gets my thoughts together like the keyboard sometimes does not. Handwriting also is a unique way to express oneself. The slant of the fonts, the curves and sways of each letter, right down to the dots on them adds a little bit of character, personality, uniqueness and a bit of "me" to the handwriting. I remember when I was in fifth grade, I used to dot my i's and j's with little "o"s. I was even reprimanded by my strict class teacher for it. Though most of the times, I always got away with a pat on a back, once even an award for good handwriting but unfortunately good handwriting is not hereditary, i guess. My kids' handwriting is not very pretty, though they get away with it by typing away and printing out their answers to get good grades.

My handwriting on handwriting day.
My handwriting on handwriting day.
I see now that I also have sacrificed the art of good handwriting to the keyboard :( Do send me links of your handwriting!

Calligraphy is the art of writing beautifully. The characters are written with the same size And luckily, I was able to get into a calligraphy introductory class to try a bit of Korean calligraphy. The teacher came with the formal head dress and we used handmade paper which had more texture than the regular paper. We also used the traditional ink made of charcoal making it permanent and non-erasable. Each letter is written with careful precision and are of the same size and equal spacing. The teacher also showed us two different styles of writing. One was bold and the other looked more like italicized writing with the letters slanting towards the right.

Korean calligraphy done by the expert
Korean Calligraphy

The bold, normal style of Korean Calligraphy
The bold, normal style of Korean Calligraphy

The italicized Korean calligraphy style.
The italicized Korean calligraphy style.
the mok or black ink made out of charcoal used for Korean calligraphy
The mok or black ink made out of charcoal used for Korean calligraphy
This was my try- Korean calligraphy
This was my try- Korean calligraphy
We were allowed to choose a motto for the calligraphy. I chose the wording that broadly meant "Be like the Sun for the world", Which ofcourse, was a total of three words. An interesting thing about Korean Calligraphy is that the document or paper is folded so that each word is separated by a fold. I ended up doing the reverse. Folded first and then filled in the three words :) I was getting pretty good at this, but ended up asking the teacher to write me the motto to take as a souvenir back home.

Be as the sun for the world
Be as the Sun for the world
 I was so happy with the motto I chose and the teacher's unique handwriting. It was kind of squiggly and added more interest. I even got the seal (the red square at the bottom right, which stands for made in Korea) and I plan to add my own seal (kind of like my signature) that I made here in Seoul. This time, Itaewon global center made my day!

C for Calligraphy: ABC Wednesday

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Blue beaches of Taiwan

Pleasant 25 degree C temperature, beautiful blue beaches, yummy street food 4 for under $10! Taiwan still remains an awesome undiscovered paradise. Our 5 day trip to Taiwan was just too good because of the fact we had nothing much to do except walk the sandy beaches, eat until until our hearts content and chat away without the interruptions from the gadgets. Great family bonding time.

Taiwan beach
I have never seen such thick vegetation so close to the beach. Remember the last scene from the Life of Pi movie where the tiger leaves Pi to disappear into the jungle? This is where it was shot. 
Taiwan is a volcanic island, which rich soil enabling the growth of thick vegetation
Taiwan is a volcanic island, with the rich soil enabling the growth of thick vegetation even so close to the beach

The white sand and blue beach of Taiwan
I cannot resist being close to the beach without getting my legs wet.
Beach in Taiwan
This beach was supposedly a place for many water sports but since it was windy, all activities were closed :(
B for Bridge
Interesting experience to walk through a miniature bridge over the backwaters
The copper sulfate blue beach in Taiwan
We watched this rough sea beach which was apt for surfing with its huge and rough waves while riding our two wheeler in Kenting in South Taiwan, Again, the vegetation so close to the beach and the blue sea still remains in my memory
vegetation at the light house place
Vegetation at the Southernmost tip of Taiwan
Sign which said beware of the snakes
Here, I was reminded of the Fanghorn Forest which arises just after a plain. This was a thick forest too, infested with snakes...
Blue beach, white sand
Blue beach and white sand of Taiwan.
 B for Blue Beaches of Taiwan for ABC Wednesday

Monday, January 19, 2015

The art of laundry

This is how I remember my grandmother's home in Madurai: Huge play area, dining table filled with delicious food, shelves stocked with crunchy snacks and the smell of clean clothes, freshly laundered, drying in the sunlight.

That's right. There was fresh laundry on the line, basking in the sunlight every day. That is not because my grandmother had a huge family. It was because she just loved to wash clothes. Not the dishes, not the floor, just the clothes. If I awoke early in the mornings, I would see the whites and colors separately soaking in their designated buckets of hot water and cold water respectively. Right after my breakfast, my grandmother would be brushing away the dirt on the shirt collars and cuffs. If I linger around in the service area, I would be asked to fill three other buckets with clean water so that she could start her favorite job of rinsing the clothes in those buckets. Then, she would wring the clothes dry so well that along with the next step of a quick jerk and flick, she would remove all the crinkles in the clothes along with the excess water. Laying the clothes carefully on the line without any crimps or ruffles, she would admire her handiwork fluttering in the sunlight. "Look how pretty they look", she would say, with the most satisfying sigh!

I must say that she has ingrained in me some need for washing the clothes well- Right from the soaking the whites in hot water and the colors in the cold water to the laying of the clothes on the line after the quick jerk and flick of the clothes. As I am saved from the manual labor involved in brushing due to Ariel, I am so perfectly satisfied to see my clothes, hot off the machine, hanging in the line clean and wrinkle-free thereby making the less than like-able job of ironing so much easier or even skipped from time to time :)

So, I say, my husband can do the dishes, the floor and roti for tonight's gravy.
It is better to let the expert to do the laundry!
But some day, two little girls will be thanking me,
for making their husbands such experts in laundry.
Because my two little boys are looking and helping with my way everyday
The way I wash and dry and clean our clothes away!
Therefore making the world a better place and and an equal place
For both men and women, they will each have their own equal space.

 Include this line “I am writing for #IsLaundryOnlyAWomansJob activity at in association with Ariel.”

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter, whites and wreaths this week!

This week, winter has really set in in Seoul. Temperature is plummeting to -18C makes me crave for sun and sand :) I am waiting impatiently for the trip to the beaches of Taiwan this weekend.

Last week we had white lily, white rose and white lace flower and eucalyptus leaves at the Korean Flower Arrangement. Not only beautiful, it smells so good!

white rose in the korean flower arrangement
White rose, white lilies, white lace flower along with the eucalyptus leaves
Korean flower arrangement shadow.
Interesting shadow it made!
Frozen in white
Frozen white. I wanted to grab some sketch pen and fill in the colors here! :)
I caught this in Itaewon while walking back home after picking up my son from school. Looks like they were selling shirts and other stuff branded with Frozen. It started snowing!

White Christmas decorations at the Express Bus Terminal
White Christmas decorations at the Express Bus Terminal
Express bus terminal is the place to be to do the Christmas shopping or just gaze around the shops that are bedecked with such pretty things that it is so hard to look away! Namdaemun and Dongdaemun markets are great with Christmas presents as well but they are open air markets! While the express bus terminal market is a toasty underground one :)

More whites
Wreaths made of winter berries, poinsetta, baubles and all! 
I was tempted to buy something. Everything was so pretty! But too many choices and pretty things just overwhelm me and I ended up going home just taking home the pictures and the memories of this pretty place in Seoul.
Purple Christmas trees seem to be in this year!

W for Winter, whites and wreaths for ABC Wednesday

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