Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Swine flu nearly cut my vacation (Part 2)

* I acknowledge that there’s a global concern about this crisis that is swine flu, but HOW can I be told this on the day that I’m leaving? …just a few hours before leaving home?

* Secondly, don’t you think it’s more realistic to just not work for that Thursday & Friday and begin the following Monday after arriving back?

* Another thing – if the government DID just state this rule, then that is highly unfair. It’s summer vacation NOW in Korea, and anyone will tell you that over summer, there are almost no foreigners in Korea. 

Ina calls back after I had a quick vent to my mum.

Me - Hello?

Ina - Hello, this is Ina

Me - Hi Ina.
Ina - Sheetal, you know before all that I told you wasn’t my opinion. It was school’s.

Ina does this very often. She gives me information or something that doesn’t seem very fair at the time, upsets me and then afterwards she says “I know you and your thinking. It’s school that says that”.

Co-teachers / Managers to foreign teachers in Korea are meant to be like a mouthpiece for the Native English speaker. Very often, principals and vice principals can’t speak English so the co-teacher acts as a link between the two. I’ve come to Ina pretty well over the past year. Unfortunately she doesn’t have a strong character and never questions authority. She just accepts and does, even if she’s unhappy about it.

Mind you, this is Korean culture. You just grin and accept what’s being told you. You don’t talk back. This has been very difficult for me to adjust to. I was raised to believe that just because someone is in authority, doesn’t make what they say or do right.

My previous co-teacher was the opposite. If she didn’t believe in something, she’d defy and fight for it (figuratively). And she always told me that we are all human and we all make mistakes. No one’s perfect. And to top it off, there are always exceptions to rules.

Anyway, I just pretended that the phonecalls hadn't happened, and I got ready to leave for the airport.

Swine flu nearly cut my vacation (Part 1)

I planned to leave home at 3:30pm (my flight was at 7:45pm). My co-teacher called me. Here’s more-or-less what the conversation was like:

Me - Hello?

Ina - Hello, this is Ina
Me - Hi!
Me - I have to tell you something important.`

I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear.

* Before I go on, here’s a brief explanation of what’s going on.

My school will officially open for the second semester on (Wednesday) August 26. But that’s still my vacation day, so the principal said that I don’t have to come to work, and I should start on Thursday, August 27. That means I’ll only teach for 2 days that week (Thursday & Friday).

Initially I was only going to arrive back in Korea on Tuesday, August 25. But changed my ticket and will arrive a day earlier – Monday, August 24.

Back to the convo:

Ina - You will come back to Korea on Monday, August 24 right?
Me - Yes
Ina - Actually you have to come back a week earlier because of influenza (swine flu)

Me - I don’t understand.

Ina – There is a document from government. If you travel somewhere, you can’t come to work for a week after you come back.

Immediately I thought – Well, then …why not just NOT go to work that Thursday & Friday and then just start work the following Monday after I’d arrive back in Korea. Doesn’t that makes sense?

Me - Ina, I don’t understand. You want me to come back a week earlier so I can teach on those two days/

Ina - Yes. Can you change your ticket?

I tried coaxing myself into keeping my cool.

Me - Ina, this is big problem for me. I’ve already made plans at home with my family for other travel and now I must leave a whole week early? Why can’t I just not come to school on that Thursday & Friday?

It really felt like she was just not getting what I was saying.

Ina - So, if I tell you that you have to come back one week early, what can you do?

Me - Ina, I’m sorry but I cannot. I don’t care if I don’t get paid for those two days of not working, but it’s unfair to tell me to change my ticket now and pay the fee in to change it.

Ina - Actually, I also had to change my ticket (She’s going to the UK for a week). And I also had to pay money for that.

Me - When did you do that?

Ina - Last week.

Me - Last week? Ina, I’m leaving for the airport in 2 hours!!! This isn’t fair to tell me this on the day that I’m leaving.

Ina - I had to change my ticket and pay because I am a teacher. In Korea. And you area also a teacher in Korea.

Me - Ina, I understand all that. And I respect rules, but there have to be some exceptions. The school can’t be so inconsiderate about this.

Ina - I only heard about this today. So principal was concerned about your coming back day so she and Mr Oh suggest you come back one week early. (Mr Oh is my other co-teacher).

Me - Ina, this really isn’t fair.

She lowered her voice a bit.

Ina - Um, Sheetal – actually I’m OK about that. But it’s the school.

By now I was pacing up and down and getting noticeably upset.

Me - I’m sure the school can be a bit lenient about this.

Ina - So do you want me to tell your thoughts to the principal now or after the vacation.

Me - I really don’t know. … I think just please leave things the way you are.

Ina - Ok, please calm down. Forget everything I said and do anything you want. And when vacation is over, I will explain to principal the situation.

*When people tell me to calm down and to NOT stress, I could honestly scream.

Ina - Go and have a nice vacation and journey.

Me - Yes, ok. Thank you, Ina. You too.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is it ever "just platonic"?

Sarah & I planned to meet at 1pm today. We won't be seeing each other for a month (summer vacation) and she wanted to treat me for my birthday. I also had some last minute shopping to do in Bucheon - a city about 10 to 15 mins away from me.

We were just going to get a quick bite and head out. As soon as our gim-bap's (rice/veggies/other things wrapped in seaweed) arrived, she said: "I have something to talk to you about."

This sounded interesting. There was a proverbial drum roll.

"Can a guy and girl be JUST friends?"

I knitted my brows. Damn. I thought it was gonna be a hot topic. But this is an age-old question.

Brief background of Sarah: She's from Busan (down south) and has a steady boyfriend. Her parents and everyone at work thinks she's single. Apparently, I'm the only one who knows. I've met him before and the 3 of us hung out a few weeks ago when he was in town visiting. She's been pretty active in her church community since she moved here last year from Busan.

She told me about a guy she knows at church. He's a year old than her and they seem to get along pretty well. In Korea, friends at church are also known as 'church brothers' or 'church sisters'. So he's like her church brother. For the sake of our convo this afternoon, we started calling him "Church Guy".

When Sarah's dude was in town visiting, she introduced him to Church Guy. Apparently, Church Guy seemed very cool, but the boyfriend didn't take like the idea of his girl hanging out with this older "Church Brother". He's a student (and has a car) ... bonus points in Korea.

Last night Sarah & Church Guy went to movies. Then dinner. Followed by a walk on the beach. Sounds like a date, right? And a romantic one at that. But, Sarah turned her phone off.

"If he called, I didn't want to lie to him" (referring to her dude)

Although, she told him she'd been out (but he didn't ask with whom...)

What he doesn't know won't hurt him...(?

Apparently Church Guy has told Sarah that he likes her. Not as a girl. As a person. He says she reminds him of his sister. He went on to say that he enjoys spending time with her. She told me that she feels very comfortable with him as if she can tell him anything. But her dude hasn't taken a liking to his girl having this "guy friend". So what does she do?

So she asked again, "So do you think a guy and girl can JUST be friends?"

I did a quick mental scan of all the guys I know. Straight, Gay, Bi, Married, Boyfriend, Single...

"Yes" I said. A guy and a girl CAN just be friends without it being romantic.
She looked slightly relieved by my answer.

She smiled and went on to say, "I was thinking of you and Sean."

Sean is one of my best friends, who is more like a family member to me. We met at university and have been inseparable since we first met. I've spoken a lot about him to Sarah - how we'd go out for lunch, movies, dinner and all the good times and laughs we shared.

"What about Sean?" I asked.

"What if your boyfriend doesn't want you to meet Sean? Would you not meet Sean anymore, or would you... and not tell your boyfriend?"

Of course, I hadn't thought of this. But the answer was easy.

I've probably known Sean for longer than I know my boyfriend. So I wasn't going to throw away a friendship just 'cause my dude is insecure about me having other guys as "just friends".

"I'd still see Sean," I said.

Sarah hit the table and said with excitement, "OK! That's what I thought.... 'cause I was thinking if Sheetal thinks it's OK to do that, then I'll say it is too...!"

*Newsflash - since when did I become an authority on relationships / men?!*

But there's a counter argument to this.

If you really love your better half and they have a serious problem with you being friends with someone of the opposite sex, what would you do? Ditch your friendships with other guys just for your man? Or... see other guys (just friends) and NOT tell your man?...knowing he'd get upset.

Sarah's going to Busan tomorrow. She'll be there for a month. She told me she won't have any contact with Church Guy over the summer. I got the feeling she had other reasons for being happy about going home for the summer. As much as she enjoyed Church Guy's company, she won't be seeing him and won't have to feel guilty when talking to her guy over the phone.

Leaving the cafe, Sarah said to me, "I feel like you are Carrie (of Sex & the City) because I just tell you everything about my life and about guys"

Mind you, she's not the first to tell me this *wink*

I told her that while she has to take her dude's feelings into consideration, she should just follow what she feels is right. She's not married and still pretty young. She told me that throughout her life, she thought girls should just have friends who are girls and have A boyfriend. But now that she's living on her own, the girl is seeing the world ... :)

A few hours later, after shopping we stopped for a drink at a cafe in Bucheon. I thought the topic was put to rest, but she brought it up again. Clearly it was bothering her. She's feeling guilty about having Church Guy as a friend, knowing her dude doesn't approve.

I told myself to stop giving her advice in case she tells her man - "...but Sheetal said" - I don't want to be getting my a** in hot water with her man!

I have male friends (married/in relationships or single). The reason I'm not IN a relationship with the single dudes? There's no chemistry, I guess.

I have a friend here (Scott) who I occasionally meet for dinner / drinks / movies / coffee. He pays for me a lot of the time, as much as I resist. (just for the record - I have no qualms paying for a dude when we're out ... I've done it plenty of times) To others, this may seem like he's "into me". Some friends have told me that it's likely that he is. But he totally isn't. There's no chemistry. No electricity. No fireworks. It's just his nature...

I think this post should be in 2 parts - else I'm gonna be writing till 3:00am again...

... so can a guy & girl have a relationship that's purely platonic?

Ready in record time!

This entire week, I've only been going to bed around 2:30am.

Last night/this morning was no different. I probably fell asleep around 3:30am. This always happens to me before a big trip. I feel like I"m wasting time sleeping when I could/should be doing something else.

Anyways, I had my alarm set for 6am. I can't remember it going off, but I probably hit the snooze button a coupla times. When my eyes opened, it was 7:40am! OMG... I ran downstairs - ran back up again cause I forgot some things next to my bed and RUSHED to get ready for work.

Well, I was showered, dressed, accessorized, face made up and GOOD TO GO by 7:55am.

...and I was still early for work :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hallo sweetie!

The electronics / digital mega-heaven at Yong-san Station will blow you away. It's like a jungle. The vendors are like lions watching potentional prey (customers) walk past their counter. The first time I went there back in '07, my friend Dimitri warned me: "Don't make eye-contact with anyone" ...else they'll surely lure you in and charm you into buying their product.

I don't really like going to Yong-san. I get too confused. Sony. Samsung. LG. Canon. Nikon. Panasonic. Most of my electronic shopping is done on the 'net or via my personal buyers. Yeah - 'cause I'm just fly like that! Frankly speaking - I don't have the patience for shopping. I have to know exactly what I need. Get in. Buy the thing. Get out.

But I'm losing track, so back to the story.

Yong-san area has a lot of foreigners so it's pretty common seeing a mixture of people when you're out and about. For me, however - this is sometimes a slight culture shock 'coz I usually hang out in my area where there are hardly any foreigners, and nearly all my friends here are Korean.

So on Sunday, I was at Yong-san with Kim. I'd just finished talking to someone, and noticed two Indian men hovering at the counter near me. Literally hovering, but looking over at us. As I turned to walk away, they approached me.

"Hallo Sweetie", the one said in a thick accent.

Don't get me wrong. I ain't a hater. And yea, they're my 'brothers' from the 'motherland' and all that. But...

I literally stopped walking and looked at him. "Ya talking to me?...Sweetie?"

"Oookaaay - Hello!" And I moved along quickly hoping Kim got the hint and would keep up with my step.

"I'm just saying Hallo, sweetie"

These 2 guys continued following me.

"Verr are you frrom?" (Where are you from?)
"I'm from London"
"London, UK?"
"Yes... ok, bye!"

As I got onto the escalater, these dudes were still following us...and not even being subtle about it. I just flashed them my beeeg eyes, and they disappeared afterwards!

This isn't the first time.

There are a fair amount of desi's (Indian people) here in Korea, but I almost never see Indian women.

I've been whistled at before and men yelling "Hey baby!" That's when my friend Dimitri stepped in and became my (pretend) boyfriend when we went out.

I'm probably sounding like a bitch, and I promise I have no problem meeting new people... but why do Indian men here insist on whistling at me, or calling me "baby" / "sweetie"?!

Okay. Maybe I can still even make peace with being called that. But why they feel the need to first helicopter around me and approach me so creepily is really beyond me.

Where's the mute button when you need it?

So my mother and brother tell me that I talk pretty loud - especially when I'm on the phone. But I've not "lived" at home for quite some time now, and I wonder if I've changed a bit. (I'll let them be the judge when I go home this w'end!)

Koreans are generally quiet on the subway and bus. However, sometimes there are some really rowdy people - either students or old drunk men. But people pretty much keep to themselves. I do too. When my train arrives, I get on and almost never sit down - I prefer standing (unless I'm very tired/my feet are sore/ there are enough available seats). Although I get stared at ... and sometimes get creepy looks from obviously perverted men, I just keep my MP3 player pumping with music waiting for my station.

The other day, I was with a friend (Kim) on the subway. It was Sunday, and when we got onto the train, I had just started telling her a story. I was telling her about the girl I saw last week - whose mother made her stand outside naked in the morning. Kim was expressing her feelings about this, and got visibly upset.

The louder she spoke, the softer I spoke! I was hoping she'd get the hint and not talk as loud as she was. People were starting to stare. I think they thought we were arguing because of the way Kim was speaking - and her volume was rising. My brown cheeks turned hot and I couldn't wait for our stop. Meanwhile, as Kim was going on for herself, I just nodded and smiled now and then, trying to show people that we weren't actually fighting!

We had to transfer trains. When we did, I was hoping we'd be able to find seats so I could catch a few mins of shut eye (I'd been up since 4am for my brother's DJ competition). There was one available seat and I let Kim sit. I stood in front of her.

Ohmygod! She was talking *so* loud and shrieking with laughter - about some things that weren't even funny. By the way, she is Korean. I have found that when I'm with Korean friends, we sometime attract attention from others. I asked about this. Apparently others are probably thinking - Wow! He/She is with a foreigner... they must stpeak English pretty well. I'm told it's a status thing.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief when we reached our destination.

Coming back home, I thought Kim would be tired and would talk less. Wrong. This time the stories had actions and people were really beginning to stare.

Now I'm a LEO and we're supposed to bask in the spotlight, not so? I can handle having attention, but not attracting it by overacting. Get it?

I needed to go to Yong-san - to the HUGE electronic/digital store. I had to get something for my brother and Kim said she'd go with me. After I told her what I needed to get, she said not to worry & that she'd help me. "I'm Korean...!" meaning, she'd help me find what I need in no time, because if you don't know Yong-san, it's like being lost in the Amazon Jungle.

Not true!

The first person I spoke to had trouble understanding me and what I needed. I turned to Kim with a look saying, "Please help me out here and translate." LOL - She repeated exactly what I had just said ... in English!

I didn't think that much of it, 'til she did it again! And then I realized that this happens very often when I go out with Kim. When we're out clubbing, she magnets to foreign guys and doesn't want to talk to Korean guys. And she pretends that she doesn't speak Korean. Even though when she speaks English - it's NOT convincing that she's a native speaker. But I suppose to an inebriated person, all this doesn't matter.

Later at dinner, Kim briefly mentioned why she doesn't speak Korean when she's out. But that's a story for another blog post.

"Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" - Steve Harvey on Oprah

I was catching up with daily online admin with OPRAH on TV in the background. American comedian and entertainer, Steve Harvey was on talking about his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man - What men really think about love, relationships, intimacy & commitment.

I stopped in mid-email to watch the rest of the show because Oprah's laughter made me curious about what Harvey was talking about. Well, I only really watched the last 15 minutes. But I seemed to have caught some good tid bits.

There was a woman Skyping in - One day she was home from work (alone) and she heard a vibrating sound. It wasn't her phone, and her boyfriend was out and had his phone with him. So she hunted down the vibrating buzz and found another cellphone in a piece of luggage. Turns out it was the boyfriends "other" cellphone. There was a woman calling him. Apparently, there were about 35 names (all women) stored on the phone and also had text messages along the lines of "I love you" & "I want to feel you tonight".

The girlfriend who'd found the phone had been going steady with this dude for 4 years. When he arrived home, she told him that he had 3 hours to pack his bags and leave. So this girl's question to men:

"If you're going to cheat, why do you proceed to commitment?"

Ok so at this point, I got a call and was distracted for about 2 minutes.

The next woman to ask a question was a 53-year old woman who'd just been on a date with a guy. She wanted to know about being "obliged" to sleep with a man after he's spent money on you.

Harvey's answer:

"If you're a secretary, you're a secretary.
If you're a nail tech, you're a nail tech.
If you're a hooker, you're a hooker."

YOU determine what you're worth!

Also, loved this:

5 Questions to ask a guy

  1. What are your short term goals?
  2. What are your long term goals?
    (Short & long must be different!)
  3. What are your views on relationships?
    Ask about his relationship with his mother. If it's non-existent, it's a red flag!
    "If he can't love his mother, he's incapable of loving you"
  4. What do you think about me?
    He may say, "I think you're independent / you'll make a great mother...etc"
  5. How do you feel about me?
    He may say, "I feel like when I'm not with you, I ain't gonna make it"
    He may even say, "I love you" - which is what most of us just want to hear.
Steve Harvey is hilarious - definitely gonna give his book a read: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When dreams become a reality

I've been very impressed with the awesome write-ups on my brother. The latest was in today's Daily Dispatch, written by Entertainment Reporter - Lindile Sifile. The article can be read here.

As I mentioned on my Facebook profile, my brother has shown me that with focus and passion, dreams can certainly become a reality. Can't wait to see him and my parents in a few days time :-)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Damage was done ... for sho'!


After weeks of waiting in anticipation, the day had *finally* arrived. I spoke to my brother the night before he left for Johannesburg to take part in the finals of The Next Big Thing - a national competition scouting the best DJ in South Africa. When I spoke to him on the phone, it was about 2am in SA. I can't remember word for word, but I think I told him that I knew he was going to win - I just needed it to be official :) I had complete faith and confidence in him.

I spoke to him again on the morning of the competition. In my heart, I knew when I'd talk to him again - he'd have won the title. Anyways, I went to bed around 10:30pm (Korean time) on Saturday. I asked my mum to call me at 9:00pm (SA time) ... which means it would be 4:00am in Korea. I Skyped in with the family & believe it or not, heard the entire show LIVE!

Meanwhile, I'd been updating my Twitter/Facebook urging friends in SA to watch. Unfortunately, SABC 1 had soccer on, so they didn't broadcast the finals as it was advertised. Bummer. When my brother took the decks, my stomach was in knots. The judges gave their comments, and soon after that the voting lines were open for about an hour.

Thankfully, I was chatting online to a dear friend, Des - who was also watching. And keeping me informed about what was going on. I called back home when the voting lines closed.

The winner was about to be announced.
I actually stood up with my hands covering my mouth.

Hearing my brother's name being announced as the winner was soon muted by the screams of joy & excitement - both from my parents sitting in our lounge in East London, South Africa ... and me, in my apartment in South Korean - seven time zones apart!

My heart was racing. I wanted to jump and scream and call everyone I know! Also, I couldn't WAIT to talk to him. About an hour later, after he'd left the studio with Neelesh I got to talk to him. There was so much I wanted to say to him, but the words were just stuck.

When you want something, you can only ever acquire it if you have ONE thing in particular - and that's PASSION. My brother has it. I'm his biggest fan - hands down!

Check out the official website of the competition here.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

I had Krispy Kreme Doughnuts for the first time on Sunday @ Jamsil Station. SO much better than Dunkin' Donuts. I felt like it was more gentle on the tastebuds, if that makes sense ;)

In this pic:
Walnut & cinnamon
Orignal glazed

Jamsil Station in Seoul

How awesome is this?!
This is all underground ... You see this about 2 minutes after getting off the subway

With Angelina

DreamGirls ~ The Musical

On Sunday, July 19 I saw DreamGirls (The Musical) WOW!! It was *fantastic* It was all in Korean, so I didn't understand absolutely everything. But the choreography was tops. Costumes were glitzy, singing was amazing. So glad that I saw it on stage.

The next musical to stage at the Charlotte Theater is Phantom of the Opera -
Hope I can see it :)

Charlotte Theater

Charlotte Theater is located in Jamsil-dong, Seoul. Now I've never been to New York, but this area (especially the building) reminds me of NYC buildings - think Sex & the City :)

End of Semester Staff Dinner

After the Art Museum, we went for dinner to Gwang-myeong.

Principal giving her speech

Love the way the salmon is rolled into a rose shape

National Museum of Contemporary Art

On Friday, July 17 the entire staff went on a field trip to celebrate the end of the semester. Since it was raining heavily, we went to Gwacheon - to the National Museum of Contemporary Art. Saw some pretty cool things...too many pics to load on here, but here's a taste of what I saw.

End of semester - Kindergarten class

On Thursday, July 16 2009 it was the last class of the semester with the little babies @ Kindergarten. I was *SO* happy! This year it's been really tough teaching them. Firstly, because there are so many more of them than last year and secondly - they are just plain naughty. But anyways, it's just 40 minutes a week. And some of them ... SOME of them... are really sweet!

My absolute favourite girl (in blue polka dot dress)

No words to describe this boy...

Spending Sincheon Dollars

Throughout the semester, we've rewarded the students with "Dollars" ($1 & $2) when they do well in tests and activities. Last week was the final week of the semester, so we turned the English classroom into a store.

The students are able to spend their "dollars" by "buying" snacks - chips, cookies, candy, stationery - even travel catalogs!

After our 6th grade classes on Monday, a lot of the snacks were finished, so we had to raise the 'prices' - making a small packet of chips $20! It was fun, cause just for a minute we announced a "sale" where everything was going to be just $2 - but they HAD to speak in English.

After their "shopping" they could watch a movie - I-Robot :)

My co-teacher & I stayed an extra 2 hours on the Friday after work setting up the classroom~

6th Grade End of Semester Dinner

On Monday, July 13 2009 the 6th Grade staff had dinner to celebrate the end of the semester. We went to VIKINGS - a salad/seafood buffet in Bucheon.

Chef preparing hot meals

Sushi bar


With the 2 head teachers

Damage on Numbers website

This past Saturday, July 18 was FIESTA night @ Numbers Dance Club in East London. I was so impressed that they screened my brother's set at the finals of THE NEXT BIG THING. Here's the piece that ran on their website.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Madiba!

Image from Google Images

Today, someone very special celebrates his birthday.
Nelson Mandela needs no introduction.
Happy Birthday, Madiba~!

Friday, July 17, 2009

D-Day tomorrow...!

The Daily Dispatch ran this awesome article on my brother today~

So tomorrow is the day we've (we = my family & Damage fans) have been waiting for - the Final Round of the NEXT BIG THING DJ competition.

My brother is currently in Jo'burg and gearing up to appear live on TV tomorrow.

Saturday, July 18 @ 9pm
on Channel O & SABC 1

Child Abuse?

I can't log into Blogger from my work computer, so I wrote this as a Facebook note. I've just copied & pasted it here. I'll probably blog about it again.
Friday, July 17 2009 - 8:40am

I've just arrived at work.

I saw something disturbing a few minutes ago. Walking to work, as I turned a corner I heard a child crying. I didn't expect to see what I did. A girl (maybe 10 years old) was standing naked, holding a paper with a message on it. Who I assume was her mother was standing next to her, arms folded, giving her a death stare. My instant reaction was that I had to take a photo (to ask my Korean friends what the paper read) and - SURELY, what I saw was wrong.

But I couldn't pull out my green neon camera and snap this weeping child - who was standing naked in the street. Naked. Crying.

I walked on, but turned to look back over my shoulder a couple of times. So many people walking towards her were slowing down and mothers walking their children to school had a confusing look on their face.

I arrived at school, and told one of my co-teachers (Mr Oh) what I'd seen.
"Maybe she's being punished?" he said.
"But isn't that illegal?" I asked.
It is.

I just told another friend at school about it, and she told me that she'd heard about it. The paper read:

"I am a liar"

What do you think? I'm really disturbed by this.

Update: 9:45am

I told my other co-teacher about this. She was very upset to hear this. She said that it constitutes as child abuse. And she just shook her head in disappointment saying, "That girl will NEVER forget today for the rest of her life."

I honestly don't know if the girl is one of my student's. I couldn't bear to look at her face. It is very likely that she is a student at our school, since this happened just around the corner from the school. Apparently, no one can question or confront the parent, but if necessary - it can be exposed in the media. I know of other teacher's who walk that route in the morning and will ask them if they saw it.

But - so far no one has reacted as it being 'normal' or acceptable.

A typical day this week

* This blog post wasn't written to inform or entertain anyone - merely just for me to write.
It's my blog & I'll blog how I want to.
Read it. Don't read it. Your choice :)

This is what my week has been like:

  • 5:50am - Wake up! (to my friendly wake up bell on my phone: "Gooood Mooorning!")
It's nearly 11pm in South Africa (previous day) and my brother has sometimes been online. He's been having late nights practicing for the finals coming up this Saturday. We talk for about 20 minutes. I also check my e-mails, Facebook messages and Twitter updates.

  • 6:30am - Start getting ready for work (shower etc...)
One of the most frustrating things for me is picking out what to wear for the day. I base my decision on various things: What's the weather like? What's my day holding? Am I going out after work? What's my mood like? I'm more likely to dress up in bright colours when I'm cheerful. If I'm feeling dim, the colours I choose reflect that.

  • 7:15am - Mix a protein shake
I don't have a big breakfast. I either have a protein shake or just cereal. If I'm really rushing, I'd buy a gim-bap (rice & veggies rolled in seaweed) on my way to work. I always have the radio on, tuned into EBS - an English Learning Station. Each show is 20 mins long. It works well as I use it as a time marker. I have to be done with XYZ before the next show begins, else I'll run late.

Usually I'd also sit at the table and read a couple of pages of a book I'm into. Otherwise, Tweet a bit from my iPod Touch.

  • 7:35am - Start getting dressed
On some days, my apartment looks like a bomb exploded. If I put something on, and it's just not feeling right, or if *I'm* just not feeling it, I'll quickly have to change into something else. When I'm satisfied, it's time for make-up.

Anyone who wears make-up will know that applying it is somewhat like art. I begin with a spray/cream for blemishes which is like a treatment. Then moisturizer. Next - SUNBLOCK (BB Cream included). Foundation. Setting Powder. Wipe off excess. Shimmering power on the cheeks. If I'm in the mood, a bit of eye-shadow, blending it into the arch of my eyebrow. Then - eyeliner. (I use the screw crayon type). First on the eye-lid, and then under the eye.

I make sure I've taken my tablets for the day before applying lipstick.

1) Lip moisturizer
2) Lip Liner
3) Lip Colour Gloss

My hair doesn't take all that long. I merely clip it up and just "GHD" the fringe. Some days I just clip it back. 2 reasons why I haven't been wearing my hair down these days:

1 - My recent haircut & colour was a disaster story on its own
2 - The heat & humidy will make it stand up like a witch

Am I good to go yet? Nope - have to make sure that my kitchen sink is clean and dishes-free.

"If your sink is clean, the whole kitchen looks clean"
- My mum :)

  • 8:00 / 8:10am - Leave the apartment
Sometimes I have to run a few errands on way to work - stop at the ATM, the store, bakery - whatever.

  • 8:15 / 8:25am - Arrive at school
Once I'm up on the 5th floor in the English class, I open all the windows welcoming the fresh air. I turn the aircon on in the office AND the fan and sit with my face in front of it to ensure that my make-up which isn't even an hour old doesn't stream down my face with the perspiration from walking in the sun.

  • 8:40 - 9:00am - Prepare for class
Sometimes, if I'm already prepared then I'm downstairs in the teachers room talking about nothing in particular.

  • 09:00 - 12:00pm - Teaching
4 classes. 10 minute break in between. During these breaks, I run to the office to cool off and check any important messages from the school messenger.

  • 12:10pm - Lunch Time
I don't always go down for lunch. If I do, I eat quickly and have to get back to the class in case I'm tutoring a student during the lunch hour. If I don't go down, I have my MP3 player on (this week I've been listening to PITBULL and my brother's mix - DJ DAMAGE) while I catch up on paper work or lesson planning.

  • 1:00 - 2:30pm - Teaching
After the last class, I've had about 5-10 minutes to get ready for my after school class.

  • 2:50pm - After School Class
I really like the group of kids I'm teaching this term. There are only 10 of them (6 boys & 4 girls). The boys are not shy and have such cool characters. 2 5th grade boys are slower than the others so they stay MUCH longer. I've been finishing the after school class at 4pm!

  • 4:00pm - Head to the air-conned office
I have to mark student's work and do any other paper work that my co-teacher/manager has asked me to do.

  • 4:40pm - Home Time
This means nothing to me, really. If I need to still work, I'll stay and finish. Otherwise, I'm outta there. To get home, I have to walk through the bustling market place, greeting vendors and shopkeepers standing outside their stores. Occasionally - actually, very often - I see some of my students and they want to walk me home. Maybe I'd stop to pick up some groceries if I have to. Nothing exciting.

  • 5:15pm - Arrive Home
I've been good with gym, except for this week (with good reason. The first thing I do when I arrive home is turn the aircon and radio on. This week since I've not been to gym, I can't wait to get out of my work clothes and wash the day off my body. I'd either make something to eat or get maybe I've picked up something on my way home from work.

  • 6:00pm - Eat
I'm usually watching something when eating (these days it's THE COSBY SHOW). Also, whatever I've eaten has been something pretty light. I zip through e-mails and settle down to relax. For the past few days I've been falling asleep around 7:00pm. I've just been way too tired to keep my eyes open.

  • 8:00pm - Oprah
I wait for the Queen of Talk to come on. If it's an interesting topic, I'd watch. If not, I read or fall asleep. After Oprah, maybe I'd watch TYRA. Otherwise, I've been catching up with my family in SA.
  • 1:30am - Time to disconnect.
I log off and watch another episode of The Cosby Show.

  • 2:00am
Fall asleep for 4 hours and then it's back to it all again.

I've been behind on my e-mails for the past few weeks. E-mails to family have gone down to one liners and sometimes even just talking through keywords.

Also, I'm talking less. Observing more. It's just the way it is at the moment. End.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Teacher, this is for you"

At the end of my last class before lunch today, one of my 6th grade students came to my office and gave me a little white box and said, "Teacher - this is for you". Sweet, right?! My students are always giving me candy, so that's what I thought it was. Till I opened it and found a necklace inside (pic above).

Now remember I teach over 1,000 students per week! Yeah, I know some of their names, but I usually have to double check with their homeroom teachers if I forget. Anyways, I couldn't remember her name. I quickly scanned some photo's I've taken at school and FOUND the girl in a pic I'd taken at Sports Day! I circled her face and sent the pic to her homeroom teacher.

She is Yoo, Se-yeon - one of the more quieter students I teach.
I was touched :)

Se-yeon is the girl in yellow with glasses

The drama that is my hair!

A few weeks ago on my way home, I stopped at a hair shop (hair salon) to have my fringe trimmed. I never have to wait, and I quite like how the lady cuts it. It costs just 2,000 Won - approximately R14.

The last time I visited a hairdresser was in April when I was in South Africa. I've already blogged about what a disaster that was. I went into a mild/mini depression for the following 3 days (my family may argue that it was longer). Why was I so unhappy? It wasn't the cut I'd asked for, and I was given golden streaks - something I still shudder about when I think back to it. I had another dark colour over it to cover it up, but by now it's nearly all washed out and my hair is looking pretty light in colour. Light hair against my skin tone is not a look I like at all.

When I asked the lady to just trim my fringe like she always does, she pulled her face and asked where I'd cut my hair. I wanted to get out of there as quickly as I could. In my broken Korean I told her I'd had it cut when I was in South Africa. She said I should go back to her after it had grown out a bit. Little did she know that I am counting the days till I get home to have it treated, trimmed to a decent length and something that *I* approve of!

As I've blogged before, it's monsoon season here in Korea. The humidity is disgustingly sticky. And as always, under such weather conditions, my hair doesn't know how to behave! It's really easy and convenient for me to just tie / clip it up everyday. I hate having hair dangling in my eyes - nothing is more annoying.

The drama of my hair continues... till further notice!

Beyonce's "Single Ladies" in Myeong-dong

Beyonce's "Single Ladies" was hot over Christmas 2008.
This is a pic from a big screen somewhere in Singapore

A few months ago I was in Myeong-dong, my favourite area in Seoul. While walking to the subway station there was a lot of activity in front of one of the department stores. They often have amateur groups performing to pop music (Korean & English). The day that I was there, they were dancing to Beyonce's "Single Ladies".

Note: The one with the short hair is a guy :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


One of my favourite writer's (Barbara Hollands) interviewed my favourite DJ (DJ Damage). The article ran in The Weekend Post ~

It just so happens that this DJ is also my brother :) By now, y'all know that I'm probably his biggest fan. And while I may be biased, I can confidently say - damn ... this guy can make anyone jump up and move! He's almost on his way to Gauteng where he will take part in the final round of the national DJ competition, THE NEXT BIG THING. He'll be representing the Eastern Cape ~!! Wooohooo!

I am *so* proud of how far he's come. I know how much this means to him and if anyone knows the passion he has about this, trust me ... it's ME!

The Grand Finale
will be LIVE
Saturday, July 18 2009
@ 10pm
Channel O & SABC 1

*Viewers and fans will be able to text their vote that night*

Damage beats his way to stardom


HANDS ON DECK: East London‘s Darmesh Makhan,
also known as DJ Damage, is the only Eastern Cape
contestant to make it into the finals of
television talent contest The Next Big Thing.

A YOUNG Eastern Cape man with a passion for mixing music has been chosen to represent the province in a national DJ competition which will be televised live next Saturday night.

Darmesh Makhan, 22, who goes by the name DJ Damage, is the only Eastern Cape entrant to reach the finals of The Next Big Thing, an annual competition run by Channel O and SABC1.

Describing the competition as an “Idols for DJs”, Makhan said his unique music mixes were a hit with viewers who voted him into the final stage of the competition.

“I think I‘m different from the other four finalists who are from Gauteng, the Western Cape and KZN because they play mostly house music and I play everything from old-school stuff like Greased Lightning to the latest hip-hop.

Makhan matriculated at Selborne College before joining his father‘s media company where he works as a layout artist.

His interest in DJ-ing was aroused when he saw hot South African DJ Ready D on television‘s Phat Joe Show.

“I was just 16 but when I saw Ready D and what he was doing to the crowd, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I started building up my music collection. My school friends nicknamed me DJ Damage and I decided to roll with that name.”

On his eighteenth birthday, his parents gave him his first pair of decks and the young DJ started teaching himself the skills of mixing music from his Braelyn home.

Now DJ Damage, who regularly amps up the atmosphere at Numbers Dance Club and corporate gigs around East London, is becoming a household name nationally. He often sends mixes to the Fresh Drive on 5fm, which are played on the Ultimix at 6 and also has residency on the Friday Night Fix on the same station on most Friday nights.

Last year his father encouraged him to enter The Next Big Thing competition, but he only made it to the semi-finals. This time around, DJ Damage is hell-bent on winning.

“I just had to try again, so I sent a 12-minute mix and when I made the semi-finals they flew me to Jo‘burg and we were televised live. It was nerve-racking, especially when they told me just before that a million people were watching, but after a while I just ignored the cameras.”

He was “speechless” when he was called live on air to be told he was one of five DJs through to the finals and is now busy mixing an earth-shattering 14-minute set for the finals next week which will be broadcast at 10pm.

If he wins, he will enjoy a seven-day working cruise to the Seychelles where he will play at a variety of nightclubs, a recording contract and a state-of-the-art DJ rig.

“I want to bring this home to the Eastern Cape to show there is talent in small cities.

“People ask me if I‘m not intimidated by the Jo‘burg and Cape Town guys, but I tell them they are the ones who should be scared of the small town guys.”

Pitter Patter...Pour!

Today it poured. When I walked to work, it wasn't raining very hard but I still got wet. It rained throughout the day. And then I thought - sh*t - I left my window SLIGHTLY open this morning, but had the net blind pulled down. Was I going to go home in 5 hours time to a windowsill-turned mini river? A few days ago, this happened and when I got home, the rain was so hard it came and wet everything near my window - including a copy of the Bhagawad Gita that I brought back from my trip to South Africa in April. The copy had expanded double its size because of the dampness. I felt awful :(

There were even messages on the school system to take care and watch out for leaks in the classrooms. The vice-principal also walked around the school checking for any damages etc... some of the windows outside the English classroom (in the corridor) were a bit open and the floors were wet.

I needed to do some shopping on my way home, but didn't - was not in the mood to carry rain in my grocery packets! It can wait till tomorrow.

Anyways, I was so relieved to come home and find that the rain hadn't come in through the SMALL opening of my window / net blinds. Around 7pm, the rain was still beating against my window - love this weather, but only when I'm at home and dry. My heart goes out to those without shelter during weather conditions like today :(

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Asus Eee PC 1008Ha

I'm getting back into my writing, and very often I am inspired to write when I'm out and about or while traveling. My iPod Touch is too small to type long entries, and of course my laptop is far too bulky too lug around anywhere. So I decided to invest in a little netbook. Y'all know how I love gadgets, and when I asked around about this, and spoke to a friend in the US (Vish - who has one), I was convinced that it was just what I needed.

I decided on an Asus model, who were the first to actually come up with the concept of netbooks. The 1008Ha is the latest model and comes in black, white and pink. Every single review complained that the glossy black was prone to fingerprint stains. I couldn't think of having a pink cover, so I settle for the white - which makes it look like a Mac, right?

The design is said to be inspired by nature, and so the 1008Ha is also known as the Seashell as the machine's shape is similar to it. It is said to have a 6+hour battery life - which is perfect for me. It arrived on Friday, and I was so excited! I love getting new electronics :-)

I really like the design and feel of it. It's lightweight and fairly easy to type on. I'm currently using Windows XP (Korean) on it, but am going to have my IT guy install the English version for me tomorrow, along with MS Office and an Anti-virus program as it's not included.

As you can see, the keys are pretty flat looking, and one has to get used to the Pg Up/Pg Dn key on the bottom right of the keyboard. If working on a surface, it's best to use a mouse (included in the package), as browsing and using the mousepad can be a bit trickey. Web pages can be enlarged or shrunk by either 'stretching' or 'pinching' the mousepad (as seen in the pic below).

In the left corner, there's also a button to turn on / off WiFi. The power button is simply in the top right hand corner. There are two USB Ports (external hard-drive/mouse)? One of the common features of this model is that it has a power-saving mode. Also included in the box is a micro-fibre cleaning cloth.

I'm ever so thankful that I have a reliable IT guy in my life over here. Trust me, if I were him, I'd block all calls from ME~! But he never fails to deliver and helps me out with virtually anything I need. He's just awesome!

Students who make my job seem worthwhile~

This is my 5th Grade student, Ahn Seong-mi. She's in my after school English class. She's started writing daily journals and asks me to read it through and correct it for her. Last week, she wrote about me... :)

Pizza for after school class

On Thursday, July 9 - when it was raining so heavily, I had to have a double after school English class. Thursdays are my most tiring days (cause of Kindergarten), and I knew that my 10 students were going to tell me they were hungry. So ... I ordered pizza and Cola for them. We were in the middle of the chapter when the delivery guy dropped the pizza off, and I told the kids it was for the other English teachers.

The smell was driving them crazy and they were singing "Pizza Pizza Pizza" to the tune of "Mama Mia"'s "Money Money Money"! Needless to say, they were super happy and co-operated well when we had to move on to the next chapter :)