Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today I'm grateful for...

Thursday, April 29 2009
Today I'm grateful for...

  1. co-teacher asking me if I wanted anything from the store.
  2. co-teacher making coffee & giving me a snack when I told her I was sleepy.

  3. ...the drink I got from the Kindergarten teacher.

  4. ...Joo-hye inviting me to a movie with her and her bf.

  5. ...Jason for adding me to his top 10 blogs.

  6. ...the freedom I have as a woman.

  7. ...the food I ate.

  8. ...all the inspiring and warm-hearted people that are coming into my life.

  9. ...generous comments on my blog.

  10. parents & brother.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Today I'm grateful for...

Monday, April 26 2009
Today I'm grateful for...

  1.  ...having the energy to stay up and blog till the wee hours of the morning.
  2. ...waking up to face a new day and week on minimal sleep.

  3. ...the energy to teach my classes.

  4. ...a 4th grade teacher who sent me a message saying that he appreciates my teaching (his class)

  5. ...the amazing comments and emails I've received on my blogs.

  6. ...Hye-ok in the admin office giving me an umbrella.

  7. ...Mrs Ham swapping her bigger umbrella with mine.

  8. ...the e-mail and phone call from my mum telling me how proud she is of me after reading my blogs.

  9. ...having my brother to vent on this morning.

  10. family & wonderful people who've come into my life in the past few months.


Never Forgotten

This is just unacceptable. I'm ashamed to say when I last had a blog about gratitude. I promised to do it daily, and I failed. It's never too late to get back into routine and that is what I intend to do this evening. Even though months (gasp!) have passed since I wrote a "Today I'm grateful for..." blog, there have been plenty of things I've been grateful for. I will start from this evening again.

Let me get to it!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Survival of Boobs, Hips & Thighs in a Skinny Jeans Society

She prances in with pin straight hair. Skinny jeans cling to her bottom half and I wonder if she can really breathe properly with jeans that tight. She's perched on high heels and looks like she could topple over from a strong gust of wind.

She orders a Caramel Machiato and sits at the table next to mine. Her mug is heaped with cream and drizzled with caramel syrup. I feel bilious just looking at it. She sits cross legged as she texts at lightening speed on her pink cellphone.

A few minutes later, she's joined by two other girls. One is wearing a mini skirt also perched on heels while the other is wearing hot pants and sneakers. They also have drinks topped with cream and chocolate or strawberry syrup decorated on top. I can't really hear or understand what they're talking about, but they're giggling and sipping on their drinks. I don't know how many people are taking part in their conversation because even though they're all sitting at the same table, they're all busy on their cellphones.

And here I sit. With my Cafe Mocha ("cream pego" which means "no cream" in Korean). I won't tell you what I'm wearing, but it's not skinny jeans, a mini skirt or hot pants and I'm not trying to balance on killer heels, either.

We all know girls like that - who can eat cream-topped desserts, oily chips (fries) and drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol, but have NO weight issues.

I'm not one of these girls.

I look out the window of the coffee shop and notice the trees covered with pink flowers lining the pavement. Spring is finally here. After months of heavy snowfall and icy weather, people are wearing less layers of clothes and more smiles on their faces. Winter in Korea is beautiful. At the same time, it's also miserable. Roads are covered with thick layers of ice and everyone walks around covered in snow coats and unflattering snow boots.

I'm reminded that summer is just around the corner. My worst season. Ever. I absolutely hate the feeling of being wrapped by the humidity. Going anywhere that requires taking a bus or subway is a pain and I try to avoid it at all costs. Everyone's jammed up against each other. It's hard to avoid people in a crowded space. Especially the girls wearing very little on the bottom half of their body.

Many foreign women have told me that they stay far away from girls on the subway dressed in mini skirts or hot pants. It's damaging to the ego!

Foreigners (men and women) have also told me that Korea makes them feel "fat". In ones home country where you were probably a 'medium' or 'large', you will find that in Korea, you are "big size".

The stereotype about Asian people being small built still exists. This is a gross generalization, but the generalization is pretty accurate. Most of my Korean female friends are flat-chested with no bulging hips, flabby arms or inflated bellies. This is why it's SO easy for them to shop. NOTHING could be small for them, unless they're in the kiddies department - and it won't surprise me if even that fits them!

One of my least favourite things to do is to go clothes shopping (even back in South Africa). When my friend Sarah asked me to go shopping with her a few months ago, I couldn't refuse. She needed a new pair of jeans, boots and some tops. We walked around for about 30 minutes before we found a place that sells jeans. She only had to try on two pairs before she decided to take it, and she wore it out. Same with the boots. The tops? No problem.

A major reason I hate going (clothes) shopping in Korea - with friends - is the looks I get from people working in the store. Even if I take something off the rail and hold it up to just look at it, I feel their eyes scanning me up and down. I feel like they're thinking, "Are you serious?"

A South African friend once asked me if I felt any pressure living in a society where the women look like they've just wrapped up a photo shoot. I'm not even kidding. Late at night, young women on the subway look as fresh as daisies with designer clothes clutching their Louis Vioutton handbags...and of course perched on high heels. It's a mystery to me how women can balance standing on the bus/subway on stilts that high. Anyway, seeing skinny women almost everywhere never really bothered me. Or at least, I didn't let it bother me.

Truth be told, I'm not skinny. I have full breasts - much to the envy of some of my Korean female friends who say I'm "blessed". I have thighs which I would appreciate much less of and hips which I sometimes wish were non-existent.

In my blogs about my trip to Egypt earlier this year, I wrote about the attention I got from the local men there. This is not something I was used to. I was told that Egyptian men [how do I say this] appreciate full figured women. And well, that is what I am. Hey... I'm just being honest!

Needless to say, I left the Land of Pyramids with one hell of an ego boost. Wouldn't you if you were told you were beautiful - boobs, hips, thighs, ass and all?

Over the past few years, I've grown to accept my body the way it is. Not to say I should neglect taking care of it. If I abandon my gym routine and eat junk all day everyday, I'm going to definitely feel the effect on my body. But if I eat (somewhat) healthily and exercise as often as I can, I will feel good, not only with my physical sense of well-being but mentally and spiritually as well. The more I exercise, the more energy I seem to have and I feel like I can take on anything.

After about two weeks of being ill on and off and being swamped with work and deadlines, I made a solemn promise that I would get back into my gym routine again. On Friday evening after work, I wasn't in the best mood, but it was definitely beginning to pick up as I got into my workout.

I went into the studio area of my gym and greeted the two ladies who were already there. One of them works in the kitchen at my school and the other one...we just acknowledge each other when we meet at the gym. She annoys me a bit because she always puts the TV volume on very high when she's on the treadmill without any consideration to those around her.

She was using the thick hula hoop that I wanted to use, so I picked up another thinner one to use until she was finished. She gave me hers and took the thinner one from me. "So sweet," I thought. Ok - I guess I can overlook her annoying habit of having the TV volume on full blast.

Now I'm not fluent in Korean, but I understand enough to know when someone is talking about me - especially right in front of me. And more so when they use body language and bob their head or roll their eyes in my direction. Just because I don't understand the language doesn't automatically make me invisible. She was saying something about me to the other lady (the one who works in my school's kitchen)

In Korean, and putting her hands to her face, she told me that I was beautiful.

Then she pulled her face and looked below my neck and said that my body wasn't beautiful.

I need confirmation.

She repeated herself saying that my face was beautiful, but that my body was not.

The smile on my face disappeared instantly.

"You're rude," I told her (in English) Clearly, she didn't understand because she went on to tell the other woman (in Korean) that "foreign people have small faces, but big bodies."

I don't know if the other lady picked up that I was irritated by the other ones comment, but she left the studio, followed by the rude woman.

Looking at my reflection in the mirror, I know that I don't have a runway model's body. I don't even long for it. I was very irritated and the good mood and energy I picked up from my hour workout suddenly melted away into nothingness.

On my way home, I kept thinking - When are Korean women (especially) going to realize that foreigner's body's are different to theirs? We've grown up on different diets. Different lifestyles. Hell, even shoes don't fit foreigners here!

There are so many cultural differences I've had to learn and accept since living in Korea. At any given opportunity, my Korean colleagues and friends want to share tidbits about what and what not to do to offend others - whether it's at a meal or the manner in which someone older or in authority should be spoken to. I've learned all these things and so far [if I may say so] my manners have been impeccable. No one can fault me for speaking out of turn or being rude.

...but what about people who fail to understand that THEY may be offending ME?

I hate how cliché it sounds, but these are just some of the...ummm...challenges that one has to face when living in a foreign country. What makes it that much harder when people are not English-speaking is that I'm unable to defend myself, making me feel weak at times.

Language is a powerful tool. My Korean colleagues often tell me how they 'envy' me for being able to speak English because it opens up a world of opportunities for me, like travel. On the flip side, however not being able to speak Korean puts me at such a disadvantage.

One of the worst moments (for example) is at lunch time where the principal or vice principal will say something about me. Everyone at the table will chuckle, but it will take my asking at least twice for it to be translated. Whatever is being said is not necessarily bad, but just imagine putting yourself in my position.

I'm not aiming for rock hard abs or twiggy arms. All I want is to be healthy. And part of achieving that is not taking heed to what others have to say to or about me. I can either choose to take it to heart or just simply ignore it. Easier said than done, right?

Let them carry on drinking their Caramel Machiato's (topped with cream) as they bounce around on heels and skinny jeans. And I'll just carry on dragging my non-model and oh-so-curvy body to the gym. Not for anyone else, but me.

I'd love to know your comments / opinions!

  All images from Google Images

Archie Comics introduces first gay character

Last week, Archie Comics announced that Riverdale High is getting its first openly gay character - Kevin Keller.  Apparently, the "strapping blond" will beat Jughead in a burger eating contest, when Veronica falls for him. According to the Archie Comics website, "Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent."

Ajooba from Jeans (1997)

I came across this song from Jeans (1997) when Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan was just venturing into films. This song, Ajooba was the first Bollywood song to feature several wonders of the world. I love that I can say I've been to at least two of them - Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids! It's a lovely song...

*Note: My friend Nicki kindly pointed out that Jeans is actually a Tamil film*



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shrek 4 - Forever After

Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murhphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas
Release Date: July 1 2010 (South Korea)
Plot: The further adventures of the giant green ogre, Shrek, living in the land of Far, Far Away.


Just Wright Trailer

Director: Sanaa Hamri
Starring: Queen Latifah, Paula Patton, Common
Release Date: May 14 2010
Plot: A physical therapist falls for the basketball player she is helping recover from a career-threatening injury.


Expect less and be pleasantly surprised

About three weeks ago, I was fretting about an email that I sent to someone. It's a long story, and I don't want to get into too much detail about it because my blog was the cause of wanting to punch the writing side of me. It wasn't really the email itself, rather my email signature which leads back here to my blog.

I've often spoken about 'getting naked' when I write. What I mean by this is that when I write, I bare all and become extremely vulnerable to my readers about my feelings and the topic I'm writing about.

Anyway, last month I wrote quite a deep blog about a particular person. The day after I published it, the person replied my email and in turn I sent another one. Only after sending my email, I realized that my email has my blog URL in the signature. I never heard from the person after that.

The person probably followed the link to my blog and read everything I'd written about them. There was nothing bad written - honest. It was basically me just being my usual self by pouring my heart and soul out onto my computer screen.

Days went by with no email in my Inbox and I began to think that I'd never hear from them again. I thought I screwed it up once and for all. I drove them away with my words. I imagined them sitting at their computer, following my blog link... reading everything I'd written, shake their head, go back to their email and delete my name. Forever.

I have an imagination that tends to run away with me at the best of times, so don't mind me if I sound dramatic.

But then it hit me - why do I need to apologize at all? It's MY blog. MY domain. MY space. MY opinion. MY thoughts. No one else should mind what I write about, especially if it's concerning MY feelings.

Anyway, things started picking up and I was getting busier with work, which means I had less time to think about the person and how they'd probably deleted me. I guess that was the (overdue) cue that I had to delete them as well. Once and for all.

Yesterday morning as I was contemplating whether or not to roll out of bed just after 6am, I heard my email notification. To my absolute surprise, there was an email from the person.

Before opening it, I thought it was going to be a harsh email about the things I wrote on my blog. Luckily, I'm able to see the first line of the email while still on my Inbox page and I knew it was 'safe' to open it.

I had to double check that the email was real and that I wasn't just dreaming still. It was still early morning!

It was real. All that time I'd been worrying whether or not the person read my blog and deleted me. Maybe they did, but decided to talk to me anyway. Whatever the case is, I feel like a big tit for wasting my energy on worrying without knowing what was really going on.

...and how often do we do that? Before knowing what's going on, we already prepare ourselves for the worst. Do you know how mentally draining it is? It would be less strenuous on the body if it took a hard whack, I think!

A while ago, I wrote - "Expect less and be pleasantly surprised"

This is what I want to do. Expect less. Very often, I've put people on pedestals...and what happened? It came back and kicked me in my ass!

Brief Update

I haven't blogged in a few weeks - I've posted random posts, but nothing deep and thoughtful as I've wanted to. Part of my lack of writing has been due to work. April has been a busy month, and every time I meet a deadline and think I can have a breather, something else comes up. Teaching is physically tiring and if I'm not standing before 36 little bodies for 5+ hours a day, I'm sitting at my desk lesson planning or preparing teaching materials.

As always, during spring in Korea, I get sick and I wasn't well for a couple of weeks. Of course, we also had the annual visitor - Yellow Dust. The weather is only very slowly starting to warm up, but it's been really cold and after work all I want to do is get home and hibernate till 8am the following morning.

Every time I think I'll tell myself "I have to blog tonight" after this episode (I've been hooked on Two and a Half Men), I end up falling asleep.

I made a comeback at the gym this week. Just getting there is filled with procrastination, but the after effects are really rewarding. I had a good workout yesterday after work. I usually only gym from Monday to Friday, but this morning I was in the mood to exercise. My body can't seem to comprehend 'sleeping in' over weekends so since I was up, I thought I may as well do something...Also it's a lovely day here today so if anything, that was a good excuse to be out.

I got back home and had a nap, but was rudely woken up by those darn vans with loud speakers roaming the area (I picked up that they were selling spring onions) and then another van, and another. The noise was making my insides churn. It was 1pm. Could I make it for the 1:45pm movie? The only English movie playing at the CGV in my area is Kick-Ass. I guess I wouldn't have been so bored if it didn't drag on for as long as it did. Also, seeing someone's guts being splattered across a room isn't for me. So I either closed my eyes or was texting during those scenes.

I packed my netbook into my handbag - if I was in the mood, I'd go to a coffee shop and try and blog from there. A change of scenery is always good, and all I seem to want to do at home is sleep.

So here I am. Sitting at a coffee shop near my place. My iPod is playing all kinds of songs from Bollywood to Pitbull to Michael Buble. It's such a lovely day to be out. I have a few blog topics that I need to write about - so let me get right to it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How to ask your boss for a raise?

Got this in an email the other day:

One day an employee sends a letter to her boss asking for an increase in her salary!!!

Dear Bo$$

In thi$ life, we all need $ome thing mo$t de$perately. I think you $hould be under $tanding of the need$ of u $worker$ who have given $o much $upport including $weat and $ervice to your company.

I am$ure you will gue$$ what I mean and re$
pond $oon.
Your$ $incerely,

The next day, the employee received this letter of reply :

Dear Jessy

I kNOw you have been working very hard. NOwadays, NOthing much has changed. You must have NOticed that our company is NOt doing NOticeably well as yet .

NOw the newspaper are saying the world's leading eco NOmists are NOt sure if the United States may go into aNOther recession. After the NOvember presidential elections things may turn bad.

I have NOthing more to add NOw. You kNOw what I mean


Coca-Cola Elevator

Thought this was pretty cool!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Million Dollar Girl Music Video

I'm enjoying this song & music video.
Million Dollar Girl by Trina, feat Diddy & Keri Hilson


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Malema kicks out a BBC journalist

From the Times Live site:

ANCYL leader Julius Malema kicked a BBC journalist out of a press conference for interrupting him, calling him “a bastard and a bloody agent”.  Malema was addressing the media on his recent visit to Zimbabwe.

AWB secretary general storms off TV interview

This is hot news right now in South Africa and people are having a fat laugh about "Touch me on my studio." Watch the clip and you'll understand!

You can read the story here.

The following clip is of AWB General Secretary, Andre Visagie losing his temper and threatens when interrupted by Political Analyst Lebohang...


Happy Birthday, Brother!

Today, Thursday April 8 2010 is my brother's birthday.

Happy Birthday to my one and only brother - Darmesh. He's really one of the finest human beings I know who has turned into a fine young man.

Over the years, he's not only been a sibling, but one of my best friends. He makes me angry, he irritates me, makes me laugh and gives some of the wisest advice for someone his age. I guess this is a big plus for having a sibling.

Being away from home, I miss him a hell of a lot, but luckily our time difference isn't too much of a killer and we chat on nearly a daily basis.

I wish you a long life of good health, wealth and happiness!


Bicycle Parking in Seoul

This was the first time I saw this: Parking for bicycles at Jamsil Station in Seoul.


Touch screen at Sindorim

Found this pretty cool. Touch screen at Sindorim subway station. You can browse certain web pages on it. 


McKnight at Night in Seoul


Last week, on Thursday, April 1 2010 R&B singer, Brian McKnight was in town for a concert titled McKnight at Night. My tickets were booked only a week before the show and the excitement built up also knowing that Korean heart-throb, Tae-Yang of Big Bang fame was going to open the show for Brian.


So after work, my friend YK and I endured a stuffy subway to get to Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. The first stop was to get our tickets before grabbing some grub. I recognized the venue as it was the same place where Big Bang had their concert back in 2008.

The only thing I was a bit bummed about was that we were sitting in full view of staff who were stopping people from taking pics. I took this one just before the concert started.

Tae-Yang performed Where you At and Wedding Dress. I tried to get a video, but only succeeded with 7 seconds. I saw tons of other people taking pics and vids, but I guess my luminous green camera stands out in a crowd - I don't know! Anyways... I missed his solo concert a while back, so I was pleased that I got to see him on stage again.

Tae-Yang performing Wedding Dress.

Here's a tiny clip:

At this point, I have to mention (and confess) that I didn't know many of Brian McKnight's songs. Although, my favourite number is Back at One. Apart from this song and a couple of others, don't ask me about titles!

After Tae-Yang's performance, two guys opened up on bass guitars. I elbowed my friend saying, "Hey, those are the guys from Burger King!" About an hour before the concert, YK and I had a mini gourmet dinner of fries and coffee (!) in the ice cold as the place (Burger King) was jam-packed.

A group of guys caught my attention because... well - foreigners in Korea stand out and one of them had dreadlocks with a beanie, something I'm sure I hadn't seen since I was in South Africa. They were wearing yellow waistcoats with STAFF written across the back. I thought they were just that...only to realize that the were Brian's sons - Brian Junior (BJ) and Niko who were on tour with their dad.

When Brian appeared on stage (a better view was to watch the big screens for extreme close ups!) I fell in love immediately. I don't know what it was - his smooth voice, his smile, the way he talks with his eyes, his half-unbuttoned shirt or his gyrating movements that left me wanting more even after the encore!

Here's a short clip of Brian singing Back at One

Brian called Tae-Yang back for a duet My Kind of Girl which rocked the crowd.
Note > This video is not mine.

Brian's sons, BJ & Niko performed for a short while, and even though they've probably done this plenty of times, I couldn't help but think how proud he (Brian) must be as a dad to share the stage with his two sons. Here's a pic of BJ - who, by the way has a killer voice.

Brian also called a lady from the audience onto the stage. Her name was Joon and I know for a fact that every single woman in the audience were squealing and squirming in their seats as Brian grazed his finger over her cheek while he sang to her. I know this, because YK and I were doing just that! I don't blame Joon if she didn't sleep that night!

Part of whether I enjoy a concert or not is how much interaction and chemistry exists between the performer and the audience. Brian has performed in Korea before and I actually didn't know how popular he was here till recently. I felt that he had a good connection with the crowd which made me like him even more.

I think what makes this singer so sexy is that he doesn't even try. Sexiness seems to ooze so naturally when he sings and moves to the music.

Usually after a concert, I leave as soon  as it's over to avoid the stampede to the subway station. I even missed Whitney Houston's encore to get out of the stadium quickly. But this concert... for this concert, I sat tight waiting for the encore. Even after it, I sat - just in case he came back! 
Here's a clip of the encore:

Of course I know I shouldn't do it, but I really couldn't help but compare this concert to the previous one I'd been to. In February, Whitney Houston kicked off her world tour in Korea. And it fell flat. She failed miserably to entertain and impress the Korean crowd and other reports claim that she was a flop in other countries too. Of course, she was performing after a decade, but still - was it an excuse for her to just sound plain stale and tired?

The following day, Brian and his team went over to Japan where they performed in Osaka and Tokyo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Fool's!

I've never April Fooled anyone before...until this year! I have no idea how the idea came to me, but I thought of catching my parents out.

I sent my mum & dad an e-mail telling them about a "big fight" I had with my co-worker after class. I told them that the school authorities got involved and that I was fed up and resigned. I went even further - to say that I was going to the immigration office the following day to cancel my visa and that I made a provisional booking to go back home the next week.

Mum called me with a bunch of questions about what was happening. She told me that she was going to make a few calls to try and arrange my belongings to be shipped back to SA. Throughout the conversation, I had to bite my tongue from laughing, even though I was smiling from ear-to-ear.

After we hung up, I sent both my parents a text saying, "April Fool's!!! GOT YOU! Hahahaha!"

It worked! ...and on my father - who can be a prankster at times, but is never (I mean never) caught out!

So I figured if it worked on my parents, it could work on a few friends in Korea! I sent a text to a few people saying that I suddenly had to go back to South Africa and I apologize if I don't get to meet them to say goodbye. A few people were sharp and replied saying "Ur kidding" while others sent long soppy messages about how they were going to miss me.

The rest of them eventually figured out that I was April Fooling them ;-)

However...a week later, I realize that a select few STILL don't know that I was kidding. Oops!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Trade movie popcorn for yogurt?

One of the best things about going to the movies is the popcorn, right? What do you think of this? Just read this on the CNN website:

(CNN) -- Some silver screen couples were just meant to end up together: Bogey and Bacall, Harry and Sally, Saturday matinees and ... a cup of low-fat yogurt?

If Sony executives get their way, U.S. moviegoers will have the option of healthier snacks with their flicks -- and they won't even have to smuggle them in.

In a recent speech at ShoWest -- the country's largest tradeshow for the movie theater industry -- Sony Pictures Entertainment Chief Executive Michael Lynton called upon concessionaires to supplement classic, high-calorie soda, candy and popcorn options with more healthy fare like fruit, granola, yogurt and vegetables with dip.