Thursday, September 27, 2012

Korea, Kimchi and Kimbap

Living in Korea for the past five months, K is a cinch with Korea, Kimchi and Kimbap.

Kimchi, the National dish of Korea is the nutritious fermented cabbage. There are many more vegetables like the radish and cucumber that are also fermented in huge earthen pots (in the olden days) and in trendy Kimchi refrigerators in current times.

Kimchi along with the noodles in red bean sauce
Cabbage Kimchi is the red dish to the right. The main course is the cold red bean sauce with noodles. Generally, they serve a lot of different kinds of side dishes with it.
Korean mushroom porridge along with all the side dishes.
This is mushroom porridge with side dishes of boiled egg, some yummy roasted root veggie that i havent found the name for, mung beans sprouts, pickled radish, soup of radish and kelp. Yum!
Korean Kimbap
Kimbap (Kim is the laver seaweed and bap is rice)  is sea weed rolled in with Korean rice, egg, pickled radish, ham, pickled cucumber, crab meat and many more!
Kimbap could be called the National snack of Korea. Filling, nutritious and healthy, it is also perfect as a meal-to-go for the kids, in picnics and in light lunches.

Kimbap with the seaweed on the bottom.
Kimbap is easy enough to make. Kim (dried laver seaweed, available in stores) is placed on a mat. Cooked, hot Korean rice with sesame seeds is spread on the seaweed. Followed by thin strips of egg, ham etc... Cheese seems to be favored by the kids.
Making and rolling the Kimbap
Rolling all into a tight roll and cutting them into pieces makes a perfect kimbap.
Beautiful colors of the Kimbap
Beautiful colors of the kimbap
ABC Wednesday- K for Korea, Kimchi and Kimbap
Color Connection

Thanjavur Paintings

Thanjavur (or Tanjore) paintings is an exquisite and traditional South Indian form of painting which originates from Thanjavur, in South India. This complicated art form typically depicts Indian Gods and Goddesses in all their glory and splendor with a generous use of thin sheets of gold foil and semi-precious stones in bold colors.
The sketch is made on a thin sheet of fabric spread over the wooden plank. Zinc Oxide or chalk powder is mixed with adhesive to provide that embossed feel for the various areas of the subject. Several areas, including the jewellery of the Gods and Goddesses and the backgrounds are then covered with the gold foil to give unique richness to the painting. The semi precious stones in different sizes and in vivid colors are studded in appropriate areas. The outline is usually done in black or in brown.The resulting painting is ornate, elaborate and intricate.
Another important characteristic of the Thanjavur paintings is the beautiful and broad eyes of the subject. Usually, the primary subject of the Thanjavur paintings is Lord Krishna. But i have one with my favorite God.

Madurai Meenakshi Thanjavur painting
This is a Thanjavur painting of my favorite Goddess, Madurai Meenakshi with Lord Sundareshwarar
Madurai Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwarar in Thanjavur painting
Notice the usage of gold for all the decorations and jewellery and even in the sari of the Goddess
Broad eyes and gold foil along with semi precious stones stones form the unique feature of thanjavur painting
Semi-precious stones of various shapes, sizes in green and red are used to decorate and add to the beauty of the painting
Gold foil is used to decorate the jewellery and costume in Thanjavur paintings
Intricate designs and minute detailing is also evident in Thanjavur paintings.

Thursday Challenge- Money 2nd week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Secret Garden

Twitter-style story of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This book was such a sweet read from the children's classics, that i naturally wanted to read it to my kids. But as i am currently reading the exciting "Boys book"- The Swiss Family Robinson to my kids, i had to be satisfied by just telling them this story. Though, they said that they prefer the other better, (boys will be boys! :), this was termed as a "cool" one.

Story of how an isolated, friendless, bitter child transforms into an amiable and friendly person when just let loose in a garden. Spoiled and pampered cousins- Mary and Colin are cured by the "Magic" in the Secret Garden of a huge estate close to a moor in Yorkshire, England where Nature and Time play their part in healing and nurturing the children to become kind, healthy and friendly individuals while determination and playfulness through.

The book does contain a lot of references to the Indians who are referred to as "blacks" and are considered people of subservient and menial qualities, which was kind of demeaning. But, I assumed it was a way to highlight resentful character of the child. 

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett is available free for the kindle.

Some of these lines are definitely going up the whiteboard in my home:

How could I have stayed abed! Th' world's all fair begun again this mornin', it has. An' it's workin' an' hummin' an' scratchin' an' pipin' an' nest-buildin' an' breathin' out scents, till you've got to be out on it 'stead o' lyin' on your back. When th' sun did jump up, th' moor went mad for joy, an' I was in the midst of th' heather, an' I run like mad myself, shoutin' an' singin'. An' I come straight here. I couldn't have stayed away. Why, th' garden was lyin' here waitin'!" (A sample of the Yorkshire accent that is inevitable the book :)

Mother says as th' two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way—or always to have it. She doesn't know which is th' worst.

Oh! the things which happened in that garden! If you have never had a garden you cannot understand, and if you have had a garden you will know that it would take a whole book to describe all that came to pass there. At first it seemed that green things would never cease pushing their way through the earth, in the grass, in the beds, even in the crevices of the walls.

And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air. (Oh Wow! How do they write like this?)

He would lie on the grass "watching things growing," he said. If you watched long enough, he declared, you could see buds unsheath themselves. Also you could make the acquaintance of strange busy insect things running about on various unknown but evidently serious errands, sometimes carrying tiny scraps of straw or feather or food, or climbing blades of grass as if they were trees from whose tops one could look out to explore the country. (How sweeeet :)

I am sure there is Magic in everything, only we have not sense enough to get hold of it and make it do things for us—like electricity and horses and steam." 

One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live. 

Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

"Where, you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow."

Friday, September 21, 2012

Jane Eyre

Twitter-style story of Jane Eyre

Superfluous yet lucid language, flowery and fluent tone of the book sets it a classical masterpiece. Not to mention that the book being the forerunner for all poor girl meets rich boy stories and also how an orphan makes a name for herself and a family inspite of all the childhood troubles.

The book does start off slow and bleak with the orphan being ill-treated by the guardian. It gathers some momentum when she is sent off to a strict school for orphaned kids. The strong character of the girl is evident from the start as she takes a positive approach to any new predicament placed in front of her and is heart-warming to see her triumph over the obstacles. Again, her solidarity is tested as finding true love is not always without its own set of impediments.

Beautiful English country side settings perfect for romance, strong and positive characters, a sprinkling of mystery and interesting twists makes this a wonderful read.

Jane Eyre  by Emile Bronte is available free on kindle.

Some of the flowery lines that just go straight to my heart-

If people were always kind and obedient to those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should—so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.” 

“But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those who, whatever I do to please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved.”

“It is not violence that best overcomes hate—nor vengeance that most certainly heals injury.”

Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.
Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end.”

“If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.”

I looked, and had an acute pleasure in looking,—a precious yet poignant pleasure; pure gold, with a steely point of agony: a pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.

I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him—I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.

Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies; and so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has not yet found the key.

The fact was, I had other things to think about; within the last few months feelings had been stirred in me so much more potent than any they could raise—pains and pleasures so much more acute and exquisite had been excited than any it was in their power to inflict or bestow—that their airs gave me no concern either for good or bad.

Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour; stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?

We know that God is everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works are on the grandest scale spread before us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence.

Bright and White

Pictures of the sky overlooking the Han River in Seoul on a cold afternoon

Skywatch Friday

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lost in Lotus

Inspired by Korean folk art which holds the simple lotus in the highest regard.

"A Yonhwa (lotus) grows in the mud but it is not tainted by it. It floats on water and does not sink. The strength of a yonhwa is powerful enough to withstand any difficulties that it may encounter. Its seeds emit a strong sense of willingness to exist and its roots extend continuously. A Yonhwa carries with it an outstanding capability of striking a balance between all of these factors that seem to go on and on."

lotus in black and white
Lotus in black and white
lotus in color
Pencil colors
Color Connection
Sunday Sketches

Play in the park

play at the park
Simple joy of playing in the bars in the park

ABC Wednesday J for Joy
Thursday Challenge Park

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oh! For the love of a book

Kindle in my own pouch

A Ferrero Rocher begs to be crunched immediately, mixed with the juices of the mouth igniting the brain in the process and bit again until you hit the hazelnut and again until the chocolate cream inside just melts in the mouth :) Some books are definitely like that. You just crave more and more and never want to lay it down before you are done assimilating the whole. I just want to zip through those pages, absorbing the facts, creating and updating the scenarios in my head and flow along with the characters in the story, maybe even play some of their parts with my heart and head. Those are the books that get the highest rating with me, as they provide me the greatest delight by letting me in on those roller coaster rides, where i immensely enjoy the ups and downs, looking forward to knowing the how the mystery is solved, if the romance is fruitful and when good wins over evil.

But then, there are a few more which like the Cadbury Silk, you want to just leave it in your mouth, imbibe those sinful tastes, toss and turn it around just to maximize the sensations and hope it never ends... Those kind of books are wonderful too, those which I dont want to finish reading, those which i read a few pages at a time to savor every word, revel every sentence and appreciate every feeling kindled. Thats the kind of book I am reading now- Jane Eyre. Before i started reading this book, i had mentally framed a picture that it would be like Oliver Twist interbred with Pride and Prejudice. (no clue why or how i came about this theory) The cold, dreary dull start made me jump to another book, finish it by the time i read a couple of pages in this one. The scenario changed pretty soon, into another monotonous and much expected setting. Nothing that excited me. Then appears the unexpected- it has romance, no doubt, but mystery? No way had i anticipated a Rebecca! Owing to the many movies seen and novels read, the quandry too, was not an unsolvable or inscrutable one... And i can very well guess how this one is going to end too. But the book has been a pleasant surprise and the language is so flowery but formidable; So complicated yet so crystal clear in reflecting the moods and sentiments; Truly, one of the top books to read!

This intensely interesting book is available free for the kindle. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

ABC Wednesday -I for interesting reads

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sky Blue

The sky was clear and blue at Seoul yesterday.

Sky blue behind the Palace tower
Blue sky adding beauty to the Palace tower

Entrance to the palace tower

Today starts out cloudy with the sun behind the cover of clouds

Cloudy sun

Skywatch Friday
Color Connection
Blue Monday
Our World Tuesday 
Outdoor Wednesday
Midweek Blues

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Head Shots!

I was at the tree planting function at the school in Bangalore. I was late and could see nothing of the ceremony. But I made my self busy and got the Head shots :) Shots of Heads, Hair and Hairstyles!

Too many heads see the ceremony

Hairstyles on the head

ABC Wednesday- H for Head, Hair and Hairstyles

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Test

The time has come to take the test. I am ready to take the plunge.

Word verifications image from

I just have to copy, how hard can it be?

I have known the alphabets for a considerable number of years now and am quite familiar with a lot of fonts.
 I know Bold, Italics, Underline and Strike through.
As I peer, I am all primed for the recognition to dawn on me.
I squint and squeeze until i am cross-eyed and confused, and finally, I conclude Robert Langdon I have to be, to understand these letters so cleverly rotated, convoluted, stretched and embellished and at alas! framed in front of me.
Some of these letters are coalesced together like chewing gum on the carpet, conjoined so well that there is no way to tell them apart.
26, thats it- i figure, i will pick a something that looks like this one; But no, wait up, I forgot the capitals too. Now we have 52 contenders, lingering in my brain, waiting for me to pick one, while the others wait their turn.
Now I have another question pop in my head, will the numbers too have made it to the frame?
I type in what i guess, only to be spat upon saying i am much too flawed; Maybe i can try again, and try again real hard?

"Forget it!" I cry, after the fifth try, maybe my eyesight is not so good after all.
Let me try the voice recognition, that pretty symbol next to the codes.
I wait for the sounds, imagining Jim Dale reading Harry Potter to me.
But the sounds i hear is like the chords from the ghouls- white noises with ups and downs providing no sense to me.
Maybe a mistake, maybe a glitch, I try it again, it is still like the ghosts are sending me a message as in the movie Sixth Sense would show.
No messages from the underworld, no ghoul-sounds, no guessing games for me!

Sorry, blogger, i really thought your blog was cool.
I wanted to tell you that, but the captcha beat me with its cryptic code.
I thought your blog was wonderful, but via the Word verification, i could not win through.
I might not be able to tell you that but i really feel it, i do.

Is the code written for humans by the machines?
So hard to understand, so cryptic the clues;
Maybe its true that the machines in the Matrix don't want the humans to do the things that they can never do.
I for one can never get the captcha right, and looks like i will never get to you!
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