18. this is why…

September 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

…i shouldnt be a housewife:

oops.

ive had my fair share of kitchen mishaps before (my most memorable being one that involves an exploding water boiler, but you can ask my college roommates about that one), but this may be a new low. seriously…i cant properly warm up a precooked egg? …with a microwave?! sticking something inside a metal box and pressing some buttons seems simple enough, but apparently thats not the case for me -.-;;

so, in conclusion: dear future roommate/husband/pet, sometimes my forays with cooking end deliciously, but please make sure you have insurance coverage for kitchen disasters.

oh. and. korea is a bit lacking in their street dog department, which explains the disappearance of the blog’s dog of the day. luckily, korea is full of amusing mistranslated/miscommunicated english. so for your viewing pleasure, i present to you the korean/english-miscommunication of the day (does anyone have a better name for this?). enjoy!yay future doctors.

oh last thing i promise. happy korean thanksgiving! :)

17. oy

September 21, 2010 § 6 Comments

hello friends and lovers! its been a while.  im not in my ‘writing zone’ state of mind so bear with my poor grammar and my bulletpoint updates

1. i met up with three different people i met via craigslist (refer to previous entry for details).  luckily, i didn’t have to bust out my pepper spray (though it probably would’ve made for a really interesting story ^^).  brief points about each…

  • Mr. NY.  christian korean american from cali. free spirited yet deep.  we somehow got to the topic of confidence and comfort with self and he was talking about how comfortable he is with himself and that he’d feel arrite standing naked in front of a crowd of people.  i wanted to see if hed live up to his words and challenged him to run around the fancy schmancy coffee shop/lounge we were in, waving his arms while screaming ‘im a joo! im a joo! im a joo!’ (his korean name begins with the character ‘joo’).  i didnt think hed do it but then he proceeded to get up and run around the shop doing exactly as described. at the end of his lap around the lounge, he commented that he was unsure if it was his sense of self confidence or his lack of self respect that causes him to do such things. either way, i havent laughed that hard in a while. it was definitely a moment of pure childish glee from what some would consider an immature dare but it was definitely worth the overpriced beer i ended up buying him :D
  • Mr. DC. korean american adoptee with white parents, raised in what he calls a ‘red neck county’ in washington. really interesting story. he was adopted at 8months by his parents and he was describing his issues with identity and how when he looks in the mirror he sees a complete strangers face (e.g., in his mind, he should have a caucasian face).  can you imagine what thats like? being in a body that you feel like isnt your own, looking in the mirror and wondering who is staring back at you?  what an odd sense of displacement.  Our goodbye was a bit awk…he kinda just walked away abruptly without really saying bye at the subway station and i didnt feel a sense of good closure but i guess i gotta deal lol.
  • Mr. DK. korean korean who studied in canada for a year (this is the one mentioned in the previous post).  has a good sense of self, open minded, and thinks often about his unborn children. and dont worry, no chemicals were exchanged.

2. ive really been craving some chicken breast. and american style red grapes. and most of all, hummus. i have yet to find hummus in the aisles of any korean market but i went to a large mart today and bought a roasted chicken and grapes and had a personal feast. so satisfying. its strange – i thought id be perfectly fine with korean food but the more i stay here the more i realize that i really enjoy the mix and mash of foods which constitute my odd diet in the states. I’m excited to be back in the states and have a party featuring celery, red bell peppers, and carrots with a bucket of trader joe’s roasted bell pepper hummus. and some delicious chardonnay. joy.

3. i went to a dermatologist and died a little. they needle-pricked and clamp-squeezed the life out of every pore on my face for a good hour.  i tried to numb out the pain by meditating and sometimes it worked and sometimes i slipped when the pain became too much and started cursing the world in my head and it was entertaining to listen to the dialogue between the two sides of myself from a third-party self. i know it doesnt sound too scientific but you definitely have those moments when the various levels of yourself become clear, and being in continuous pain seems like one of them for me.

4. how do you define success? take the answer that first pops into your mind and look deeper. observe its implications. about yourself, the people around you, and your environment. then think again. how do you actually define success? how do you want to define success? why?

5. i think ive figured out a general direction id like to pursue for now. and trying to come to terms with the fact that i need to be flexible enough to deal with life’s unexpected curveballs.  this sounds a bit cheesy but i think ive started to single out my own voice amidst the the clutter of others’ expectations, presumptions and values for what/who i should be. why is it so hard to be honest with yourself at times? or am i just really late in the game? actually i doubt it. im pretty young. but apparently that also means i may be naive and foolishly optimistic and have no idea what im talking about.  but i guess thats what makes it interesting :)

16. movement in mumbai

September 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

15. wtf

September 9, 2010 § 6 Comments

will you have coffee with me?

I’ve run into a problem…how are you supposed to make friends in a tiny town where you have no appropriate networks and can’t communicate fluently?  After a pretty quiet day, I decided I was pretty lonely.  I’m trying to embrace this newfound philosophy of don’t-wait-for-life-to-happen-to-you/you-are-the-agent-to-change-your-mind-and-life so I decided to take a walk to the local university neighborhood to find a friend.  Full of themed and overpriced coffee shops, karaoke bars, restaurants, and street jewelry vendors, the area was pretty upbeat for  a Wednesday night.  As I walked around by myself, slowly taking in the sights and sounds while trying not to trip over myself or bump into passerby, it dawned on me that I had no idea how to actively make friends.  This was somewhat of a startling realization because there really hasn’t been a stage in my life where making friends wasn’t more of a passive/natural process since it had been facilitated by school or other means of forced bonding (e.g., sports teams, church, extracurricular meetings, etc).  I realized that I am completely on my own now and not everyone around me has the shared bond of being in the same grade, age range, stage of life, or even linguistic capacity as me.

the entrance to Ann House, a themed coffee shop

So how exactly does one make a friend with no leads?  Especially when you’re trying to target an English speaker in a small Korean town?  I contemplated wearing a giant sign around my head proclaiming I’m a foreigner seeking a friend.  Then again maybe I should be a bit more discrete.  A shirt with an American flag printed on it? But that idea was soon shot down when I passed by a Korean native with that same shirt. it even had “Boston, Massachusetts” printed on it.  sighs.  I don’t have anything against native Koreans (I guess technically, I’m one myself) – I just want someone to talk to that I can freely communicate with.

You’re led along a hallway full of private booths

It was a lot easier in India because 1. I was part of an organized group and 2. I stuck out like a sore thumb and people were always curious.  It’s a bit different in Korea.  1. eye contact and smiling are rare, especially from people my age and 2. I look like everyone else.  The only minor difference is that I tend to look like a bum compared to the rest of Korean girl society, which kinda decreases my chances of being approached or being responded to. Korean girls are, in general, consciously put together from head to toe.  Walking around the street is like walking into a giant fashionista/trend catalog.  Compare the lace, makeup, hair gloss, and heels with my look today: black yoga pants, plain white shirt, unwashed hair in a ponytail.  To my credit though, I did have both my fingernails and toenails done.  And I had eyeliner on.  And a ring. score.

a peak inside through the sliding doors

Just when I was about to officially declare myself a loner, I saw a flash of pale skin caught my eyes as I was scanning the streets. omg. could it be?  a white girl!? I got so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. I really didn’t.  I just kinda froze while feeling like it was the first day of preschool.  So excited yet nervous and soooo curious. Why are you here? Who are you? Where do you hang out? Are there more of you out here?  But like I said, I was frozen in anticipation and I sadly watched her pass by without a word.  But really, what are you supposed to do in such a situation?  Stop her and say “Hey! I saw that you’re foreign – let’s be friends!”  That seems a bit odd, even for me.

interior view. up front is the menu, on the left are the doors

The next thing to make me feel all warm inside?  This sign: English essay contest! No joke.  I got all happy because it was something so familiar. It was like seeing an old friend. Not even the local dunkin donuts made me this happy.  -.-;;

Turning to new methods, I consulted craigslist.  to look for friends. seriously. I’ve never even used or trusted Craigslist enough to buy and sell items but here I am, perusing through the local personals to find friends in the vicinity.  There were three posts for Jeonju (the city I’m at), and while two of them were some sort of booty call, look what I found:

perhaps my new Jeonju buddy?

I decided to take a chance and contacted him. so far we’ve exchanged a few emails now and I’ve made it clear that I’m not interested in chemicals or a relationship.  He seems genuine and nice so it’d be awesome if he turned out to be cool if we ever meet.  For those of you who may be concerned, I promise I’ll meet in broad daylight and carry pepper spray or something ^^

And one final message.  Thank you, friends at home and far away, for being my friend and allowing me the warmth of mind that we’ve shared moments and affections and that we have each others care despite the physical separation. <3! I think of you often and the times we’ve shared make me smile at random points during my days.

Random eye candy: my favorite meal in Korea: raw crab legs marinated with ginger soy vinegar a perfect piece of grilled fish mushroom topped california roll My little brother. I guess he’s not so little anymore. Jeonbuk State Museum of Art. small and quaint gallery with great exhibitions Modern Korean art After a ~1h hike up Mt. Moak with my dad

14. clouds

September 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

I.

II.

13. plates

September 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

12. the yoga institute

September 3, 2010 § 4 Comments

ive been in mumbai at the yoga institute since last Saturday and here’s what i’ve generally been doing each day:

7:00-8:00 – asanas: this is what most people (including me) think when they see the word ‘yoga’  – the whole downward-dog, flexibility-increasing exercises done by women in spandex and self-counsciously fit men made popular by the likes of Madonna and Sting.  I primarily came here to expand my knowledge and practice of asanas but apparently this is only one aspect of yoga.  very basic asanas are covered in this weeklong course.  Its nice because the instructors break each pose down to its roots so I feel like I’m building a good foundation and I’m starting to memorize the Sanskrit labels and sound all cool with the fancy sounding words rolling off my tongue (e.g., compare ‘vakrasana’ to ‘crocodile pose’).  However, as enlightening and refining as these methods are, I’m itching to do more advanced + flow practices.

starting the day off with an asana session.

8:00-8:15 – “brisk walk:” we literally briskly walk around the campus where little profound-ish quotes like these:

ive been misled…we need to change ‘yoga’ studios to ‘asana’ studios if we want to be PC.

8:15-8:30 – breakfast: students adopt a ‘satvic’ diet which basically means no processed foods, garlic/onion/harsh spices, unfiltered oils, meats, caffeine, refined carbs, etc. this also means no chocolate. But I sneak in a cough drop or two sometimes (lol I sound so pathetic. I promise im enjoying my meals here).


today was a special sweetened breakfast treat because it was an Indian holiday (Krishna’s bday)

8:30-9:30 – karma yoga: basically an hour of ‘menial tasks’ to help us focus our minds towards the work in front of us.  Things ive learned through this: 1. I really like cutting vegetables 2. I like coming up with efficient ways to cut vegetables 3. I cant wait to take cooking classes.

no veggie cutting today. instead we scrubbed floors. except it was more like everyone else scrubbing the floor while i take pictures ^^

9:30-10:30 – lecture or video (e.g., yogic diet, yogic hygiene, yogic philosophy, etc).  I find my Penn-instilled scientific intellectualism scoffing a bit at their questionable research methods and claims but I appreciate the basic messages.

10:30-11:30 – experiential asanas: lectures on the purposes and proper mindsets/implications of the physical asanas. these are actually pretty enlightening but i wont go into detail.

11:30-12:00 – conversation with headmasters or conceptual games

12:00-12:30 – lunch:

typical lunch, clockwise from top: some sort of veg dish, cold buttermilk (dislike), beet salad, rice (dislike), chapati/roti, daal/soup

12:30-12:45 – break

12:45-1:30 – relaxation/guided meditation: basically, 45 minutes of conscious naptime in different poses.

1:30-2:30 – jalneti/facial massages/kriyas. Jalneti = sniff warm saline water up your nasal cavity to rinse it out for physical/mental clarity. And then massage our faces to increase stimulation. Kriyas = eye exercises + candle gazing to help focus/maintain calmness/inner peace/etc. I like the jalneti (it actually does clear up your senses and wakes you up) but the kriyas are a bit fluffy for me. The eye exercises just look a tad ridiculous because you have a classroom full of people trying to make themselves cross-eyed.

Jalneti: we cup the water and sniff it into our nostrils and then blow it out. Yum.

2:30-3:00 – conceptual games: we get to become kids again and play games that capture life lessons but is a great excuse to be blindfolded and throw balls at each other and sing/dance along with cheesy kindergarten tunes

3:00-3:30 – lecture…basically a lot of wisdom-y anecdotes and quotes about principles to help you navigate life.  some of the lectures are profoundly simple and confidence-building.  Interestingly enough, many of the messages being communicated here are very similar to the Christian Sunday service sermons of my childhood/adolescence but its refreshing to hear it from a non-Christian perspective.  its liberating to know that people can live a principles-based life peacefully and maintain faith without the paternalistic version of God.

Mew (Thailand)

3:30-4:00 – pranayamas: various breathing techniques. People get really creative ways to take in air.

4:00-4:30 – snack & tea time! We have this home-brewed tea every breakfast, snack, and dinner.  If theres anything ive noticed about india is that tea is serious business and delicious no matter where you are.  Bengal had great masala chai and this institute has an amazing herbal concoction.  I’ll learn how to make them both so when I settle down or something like that and have visitors like you I can make you some fine dime Indian tea.  i also bought the institute cookbook so maybe ill be a pro satvic cook someday and feed you delicious spiceless veggies.

Puffed rice w/etc.  First had this in Kolkata (see post #06)

deliciousness. steaming blend of milk, water, ginger, mint, lemongrass, and liquid jaggeri.

4:30-5:15 – bhajans aka singing hindi songs from a songbook led by an old lady with chronic arthritis…at first I disliked this session for three reasons: 1. English translated hindi is really hard to read (e.g., the word “hai” is pronounced ‘heh’…wtf) and I had no idea what I was singing about 2. The melodies are in a ridiculously unfamiliar and unpredictable high-pitched scale and 3. I just didn’t see the point.  I used this time to sit in the back and have little side chats or write in my journal or daydream but then after the first couple of days it started getting fun for some reason. And we’d have sessions where everyone comes up to share a song and I flipped out bc I was one of the first ones targeted bc im foreign and I really don’t sing (give me a piano and ill def play for you but uh singing no. unless your name is Jason Bill Julie or Su, I don’t readily sing in front of you).  But then everyone is so supportive and the instructor wants us to conquer our shyness/fears so today I decided to sing this one Korean pop song from the 90s (for those of you who may know, I sang ‘candy’ by HOT…its basically the Korean equivalent of *NSYNC’s ‘Bye Bye Bye’).  I didn’t know all the lyrics so I just made up some Korean jibberish at times. So now ive sung. Alone. With a mic. In front of a group of international strangers. Wasn’t as bad as I thought. Doesn’t mean ill do it again.

Romanticized Hindi is written nothing like it sounds

5:15-5:30 – break!

5:30-7:00 – asanas: my fave. Great way to end a 12-hour day.

Daniel, our nighttime asana instructor. short Brazilian with a great accent.

meditating to prep for asanas

7:00-7:30 – dinner: this whole scheduled meals thing is very new to me.  I usually eat whenever I want and am a very particular eater.  My relationship with food is a bit complicated but doing this program shed a lot of insight about my capabilities/limitations with food.  Oh and meals are supposed to be eaten in complete silence. Sometimes this doesn’t work out so well but I’ve been trying and it does help to be mindful of my physical/mental responses to food and why/how I eat.

Miscellaneous: I’m realizing I make friends really slowly, both here and in everyday life. Maybe its because I know we’ll all be separated soon but I’m really not that social here unless I’m spoken to first and then I find out all this cool stuff about people.  I really need to expand my people skills because I do enjoy people and listening to their stories but I don’t really know how to reciprocate (aside from analyzing them, which is not the same as befriending them).

Sajini & Falguni, my roommates. “We’re the oldest here but we laugh the most.”

Now that’s been said, here are some brief bios of people I’ve become friendly with: 1. Sumeta, one of the volunteers who was a finalist for Miss India a couple years back and a former model but is very down to earth and liberal for an Indian woman 2. Hari, a Mumbai native with a back injury who is really quiet but we eat in silence next to each other and sometimes exchange words 3. Sajini, one of my roommates. shes 43 and has no real sense of ‘home’ and wants to stand happily on her own two feet now that her daughters all grown up…shes kind of who my mom would be if it weren’t for her physical ailments.  and oddly enough she also made me want to be married someday and have kids and all that junk uh oh -.-;;  4. Martine, a Hungarian native who recently finished her masters’ program in corporate anthropology (this is something I want to look into) and will be working in merger consultancy this fall 5. Helen, a Chinese girl with a British-Chinese accent because she grew up in China but is studying English in London and is super girly and giddy and graceful and her face and eyebrows remind me of Yoonji (a good high school friend of mine)

Nathan (UK) and Martine (Hungary)

You know, as cliché as this is im really coming to terms with my national identity through this trip. People ask me all the time where im from and I say USA but they usually mean where is my face from so then I have to say Korea.  So to save my breath I thought about just saying Korea every time someone asks but it just doesn’t feel right because I hardly know Korea and the States is where I was raised but I know im not completely American either (this trip has made it glaringly clear that I embody lot of eastern philosophy/tradition) so im just like wtf I have no simple answer to where im from.  But I guess that’s the point.  There is no simple answer to where im from and what my past is and who I am and lalala.

Unrelated to post. Just amusing.

One last thing.  The yoga institute is right next to the airport. Literally. Its like, the airport and the institute are neighborhood pals.  They can have nice little block parties together.  Why is this so important?  Do you know how often airplanes leave an airport? A lot. I can tell you this from personal experience because we at the institute can hear the engine of EVERY SINGLE PLANE that takes off from Mumbai International. Did you know that these engines are really really loud? Instructors pause every other word to let the planes go by before finishing their sentence and I literally cannot hear the person next to me when a plane lies by.   Oh and its monsoon season here and sometimes the rain is just as loud as the planes.

No dog of the day bc I don’t get out much but I do have a picture of a packet of corn that I bought that is tied shut with its own stalk:

delish.

A nice touch of impromptu design no? I thought that was pretty awesome.  And a bit morbid too.  Can you imagine what the corn is saying if it could talk?  I imagine it’d be something like “I’ve been stripped of my stalk and my kernels picked from my ear and now you wrap me up in my own skin to be sold to some foreigner? Woe is I woe is I!” as a single tear drops its naked stalk.  ………wow okay I think ive let my mind run for long enough.  Aschee! (Bengali farewell, literal translation = ‘I’m coming,’ as in ‘I’ll be back,’ as in, this is not a final goodbye so yay)

just in case you didn’t see enough cross-legged figures in this post.

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