Saturday, October 3, 2015

Cut your Luck and Draw your Face!

I was just shocked out of my socks when I read this report on today's The Korea Times! The gist being that young jobseekers in Korea have resorted to plastic surgery to look more appealing to the interviewers and now have also started to cut luck lines on their palms to make their palm lines stand out to induce luck. They even have resorted to injecting botox into their vocal cords to make them sound confident!

It is impossible to live in Korea and not to know about plastic surgery: How many times have I seen girls crouching in the corner of the "Chuk" or the porridge shop (typically a restaurant where you go when you are sick) with a bandages over her nose or eyes! It is impossible to miss the sheer number of ads and clinics promising immediate appointments, free consultations, easy payments, state-of-the-art equipment for the actual operations in Gangnam Gu, "the Beverly Hills" of Korea. It is not possible to miss the shocking discounts available enticing you to attempt for surgery on more than one part of your body. And of course, we cannot neglect the power of the "sobeesu" or the free/complimentary items available at your disposal after, you are done with the surgery. Korea maintains the worlds market share of plastic surgery by an astounding 24%. Almost 1 in 5 women have undergone plastic surgery in Korea and the stats are not very for men either. It is accounted that Korean women use 10-18 cosmetic products on top of their already perfected face. The results are not off. Koreans are the perfect-looking people I have ever seen! Even if they are out on the park on a lazy Sunday, they look perfect! All of them look good, all of them look like film stars!

Why all this obsession about looking good, all the time? Why this eagerness to look good for others? Why all this passion to please others? Why go through all this trouble, pain and money to please your interviewer, who might not be the one you will work for ultimately even? Where will this stop? Will you change your chin to please your supervisor, and then nick your nose for your manager? What will you teach your kids? " Don't worry, my dear, just Botox your voice to sound confident" or "Just cut your palm lines for an luckier life!"?

With a teenager about to enter the age group prone to do these stuff, I really feel sad, tensed and scared at the environment these young people are subjected to. Young minds should be raised to be at peace with themselves, confident of their bodies and abilities and be leaders themselves and not mere followers.  I wouldn't want my son, whose nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of our world would have changed, coming in with a shorter cute little button nose. If he did though, he might also have to consider getting his palm lines stand out more, but I seriously doubt if it will help him in anyway!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Unique wedding ceremony in Seoul

I miss the Indian weddings. The colorful clothes, the delicious food, the gaiety of the relatives and friends! It is a wonderful feeling to get together, celebrate the couple, share their joy and indulge in ourselves.Traditional weddings conducted in wedding halls for three whole days, though must be a tense time for the parents of the couple, but a time of delightful cheer for the others. Though I might be missing the most expected weddings of two of my cousins this year :(, I got to witness an interesting wedding ceremony in Seoul. 

It is not a Korean traditional wedding like I would have expected since we are in Seoul for the past three years. It was not a Korean Christian wedding like the one we attended of my husband's colleague before.We were invited to the wedding of the Taekwando teacher of my son, who is an Ethiopian with his fiancee from the US, who is an Eastern Methodist Christian. Now, the odds of me attending another wedding of this nature is probably zero. I was definitely counting on being part of the wedding and was devising ways to convince my boys who are my only link to the groom when, my younger one, excited about the wedding, was all set and ready on time, wearing his collared shirt without any complaints. The elder one was fairly enthusiastic to attend the wedding and was ready at the appointed time with his shirt on too! 

We were there at the church, bang on time. As we knew just one person- the groom- who was super busy, in the entire wedding crowd, it was kind of awkward. But the whole situation was oh! so! worth it. The church was different from the other churches I have visited in my life. Beautiful paintings with  copious amounts of golds on all of them, giving them a royal, venerable air. My elder one did give us a short idea of the Eastern Methodist Christians when the ceremony started. 

The golds and the paintings! 

The beautiful dome.

The altar

The birth of Jesus

The groom all dressed up, in-waiting.

Here comes the bride!

The Eastern Methodist wedding ceremony

The Ethiopian wedding ceremony with a lot of singing. 

And dancing!

Interesting to see the add-ons to the couple's clothing- the white capes and crowns.

There was lavish Ethiopian style feast after the wedding. I really wanted to try it but we were late for another party and had to be off. Surely considering visiting the Ethiopian restaurant in Itaewon! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

All that has been so far... in Seoul

Oh, it has been so long since I wrote in my blog. I blame the awesome food in India, unnatural weight gain because of that and the excellent outdoor weather we are having now in Seoul for my tardiness.

Having said that, the past few months have been so memorable in my life, I just want to preserve it in words.

The India trip was amazing. Met with a lot of people, feasted on all the good things I was missing, spent some time with my parents (and a lot of time shopping) which was so soothing. Bad things did happen, but I am moving on with my life and I will naturally cry about it in the upcoming posts.

I have been keeping myself busy with my new-found passion in life. Drawing. Now I understand all the greats who have said that the Passion is the oxygen of life! Passion is engrossing, captivating and mesmerizing. I really am happy and thankful to have found mine however late in life. Everyday is exciting and energizing! I am learning alertness, patience and humility all over again and I find it satisfying. When your creation is appreciated, loved and rewarded, there is just pure ecstasy. I got paid for a few of my creations and one of it was displayed in a gallery in Jayanagar.

Having at least a 50% claim on the creation of my sons, I experienced bliss from that quarter too. I have never been the President of anything. I have no idea how I would have felt if I became one. Nevertheless, I am positive that nothing comes close to the floating-on-the-clouds feel that I got when my son became the Student council President. I was pushed even more so when his teacher declared him almost unanimously elected among all the contestants and that he is the first non-Korean and first Indian to do so. I was practically in space when I got the recording of his speech from another teacher just a few minutes after he had delivered it. It is quite tough to see him work hard even after I have slept at night and heart-warming to see him get accolades for his sincere work. I am loving the special stride my husband has when he walks into the school as he calls himself the "First Father". I am secretly loving being the "First Mother" too though I have to work on my special walks.

Just when I was claiming to be much fitter than the boys in my home, my younger one gets selected into the school cross country or marathon team and completes running around the football field in a minute and 6 seconds, even on his 7th round! I was able to run 700m before huffing and puffing  down to a heap. And my husband makes 100km on his bicycle every week. And I find it quite sufficient to do 300 calorie workout which measures upto a 10km a day, for 3 days a week (at best) on my indoor bike. But let them try to convince me that I am not fitter than the others... one look from me can kill, baby!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Live and Learn

The last quote of the 3 Day Quote Challenge is to be a special one. One I have read so many times and one I have lived and learned :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Importance of being myself

Another quote which jolted me into activity and put me in the driver's seat of my own life: .

I fully intend to live my own life completely without any regrets and enjoy every moment of it!

I find this 3 Day Quote Challenge an interesting way to reaffirm my goals and set me on the right path yet again. Do join in the fun Archana!

The Rules 
  1. Post a favorite and a different quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, from any book or author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Never miss an opportunity!

Thanks to a sweet blogger friend Kokila of Sunshine n Blue Clouds, I am participating in a 3 Day Quote Challenge.

I want to start off the challenge with the quote that came as a shot on the head for me. The missed opportunities, the lost chances, the untried avenues. Never again!

I would like to nominate DNambiar of Tipsy from the Trip to join in!

The Rules 
  1. Post a favorite and a different quote of yours for 3 consecutive days, from any book or author of your choice. It could also be your own quote.
  2. Nominate 3 bloggers with each post to challenge them.
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Seodaemun Prison in Seoul

With the kids in vacation, getting up late, keeping me busy and messing up by perfect schedules, I decided enough is enough and pulled them out of the home to experience a bit of the Korean heritage. We just happened to choose to go and visit the Seodaemun prison which was built by the Japanese to confine the Korean freedom fighters. It was an interesting but somber experience.

The main building of the prison houses a complete history of the Korean Independence movement from the Japanese and the gory details of the torture and executions performed by the imperialists. We were not allowed to take pictures of the interrogation and torture and the death chamber. There were torture boxes in display - a small box where a prisoner was kept in had nails poking in in all directions to hurt the prisoner. The box was kicked repeatedly to make sure the prisoner got hurt. Another scary item was the torture tools used to poke the skin under the nails, mutilating the extremities and hurting the internal organs. Here was the first time that I witnessed the gallows. It really creeped me out. It was even more upsetting to hear the moans and cries of the elderly Korean couple who were visiting this place for the first time :(

Just off exit 5 from Dongnimmun station is the way to the prison.

The red brick-walled structure with the watch tower is the entrance to the prison.

The map of the prison.   
Tiny entrance to the prison

The main building houses the torture chambers and the History of the Korean Independence movement. 

The jail which housed the Koreans.

 Worser crime calls for lesser rice :( The blocks varied in sizes to reduce the size of the rice portion for each prisoner according to the crime committed.

The prison cell that housed so many inmates under very bad sanitary and climatic conditions.

Solitary confinement cells. Even lesser space.

This is an exercise area where inmates where allowed to exercise but not allowed to talk to each other
I took this from where the warden could have a clear view of all the inmates.
This is an Execution building where the Koreans were sent to the gallows. We were not allowed to take pictures inside here. There is a popular belief that the poplar tree inside the building is spindly and frail while the one outside is sturdy because it witnessed the atrocities that has happened inside. 
I have not been so close in seeing the atrocities of war or the Independence struggle movement. I am now terrified at the thought of Jallianwala bagh massacre, and I think I can understand and appreciate the millions of soldiers all around the world, fighting and enduring atrocities for something they believe in. It is going to be long night for me tonight...  :(

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bubbling goodness

Yay! Summer vacation is here! I love it when my kids are around, waking up late, heavy breakfast at noon, playing and chatting until lunch time and continuing to play and chat until dinner. It is pretty fun and I am enjoying every second spent with them. 

Today, we ventured out of our home even with the MERS situation hanging above our heads. Few people were wearing masks, there were sanitizers even inside the bus for public use, and antibacterial wipes everywhere. Maybe a little less crowd in the malls, and deserted restaurants. Everything is a bit gloomy and depressing here in Seoul :(

But we decided to try out something new today. We tried out the Red Sun restaurant in the Ipark mall in Seoul. Nice, clean, restaurant and the cute little drawers in the tables for the forks and spoons. Pretty neat! 

The meal consisted of a platter with noodles, spagetti, topokki (Korean rice cakes), eggs and veggies along with a special sauce. The platter is then placed on the stove right on the table where everything cooks along with the sauce! 

Assortment of items on our platter on the stove on our table
Bubbling goodness :)
We chose vegetables with our meal, there was also the seafood, ham or pork to choose from. 
We had to have some more topokki extra to this amazing sauce!
The sauce was sweet-spicy concoction that tasted amazing! I also like the way we had to share from the one big platter. Lots of selfies, chatting and a full stomach, we left the restaurant thinking that it was a very nice experience. Something I would cherish forever! 

W for Bubbling goodness Worth remembering for ABC Wednesday

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Moonlight tour of Changdeokgung Palace

There are five main palaces in Korea. I had been to the biggest and majestic Gwanghwamun palace which is a must-see for all tourists because of all the history involved. But for the prettiness, I must say the Changdeokgung takes the cake! I was lucky to get into the Moonlight tour of the palace coordinated by the Korea Tourism organization on the full moon nights. The palace is beautiful in the daytime but the night time view just took my breath away!

General public are not allowed for this tour. There is a form to be submitted and then 100 people are allowed to participate in it.The weather was so pleasant and it was a perfect night to visit the palace. 

The program started out at 7:30pm, Korean precision timing, with the registration for the English or Chinese language tour guides. We were all given headphones to listen to the guide. Then, we were treated to the Royal changing of Guards at the palace gate. 

Changing of guards at the Changdeokgung palace
We were given a pretty LED light to carry through the palace, just in case. Then came the pretty sights! 

The traditional Changdeokgung palace surrounded by the hi-tech buildings of Seoul

Changdeokgung palace at night

The place stones for the officials. 

The Throne room for the King. Check out the beautiful electric Chandeliers!

The pretty pretty palace at night!

The night time view around the walls of the palace.

We then reached the secret garden, which houses the beautiful lotus pond. The night time view of the pond was like a dream come true.

The lotus pond in the secret garden. Note the reflections. 
While we were feasting our eyes on the lotus pond, there was also an audio treat performed by a local artist in a nearby gallery. 

The love nest for the king 

After a visual treat, we were then ushered into a open air auditorium in the palace where we were given ice cold omeja tea and some traditional Korean snacks, while we got to see the Korean artists performed. I especially loved the short presentation of the Korean version of Romeo and Juliet.

Pansori about the Korean love birds

I really had a beautiful time at my favorite palace in Seoul. And the tour also was so well arranged that I hardly noticed that it was around 10:30pm when we were out of the palace gates. We did finish a quick questionnaire and even received a free gift on top of our treat! This was indeed a romantic and even informative tour of the beautiful palace.
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