Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vaseline skin-whitening commercial in India

A few weeks ago, I posted a story about Vaseline launching a skin-whitening Facebook app for India. Here is the commercial of the Vaseline campaign in India urging men to whiten their faces. It comes as no surprise (to me) that it has caused a lot of international controversy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I wanted to start this Thankful Thursday thread last week, but as it happens, life got in the way. So today will mark the first of these Thankful Thursday posts.

I used to write things I was grateful for on a daily basis, but sometimes it's hard to post every single day (not that I can't think of anything, but just that time is against me) so I'll wrap up from the past week and list them all on a Thursday :-)

Today, Thursday, July 29 2010 was my birthday. It was not the birthday I planned and hoped for and it certainly wasn't one of the best I've had. However, I always believe there are things we can find to be grateful for. So, here goes:

I'm thankful for:

  • ...having a peaceful sleep last night and waking up refreshed this morning.
  • ...having a good teaching day.
  • ...Mrs Ham & her husband inviting me out for a farewell dinner on Monday.
  • ...Mrs Ham taking care of me when I was ill on Tuesday.
  • mum recovering and using every bit of energy to get well.
  • dad for being so positive and reassuring.
  • brother for being the humour in my life.
  • dad calling me at 4am (SA time) to sing Happy Birthday to me :)
  • ...the security guard who helped me at the bank this afternoon.
  • ...Mrs Bae treating me to lunch this afternoon.
  • ...all the birthday messages, emails and texts I received today.
  • ...a phonecall from an old & dear friend (from Grade 4 - Anthea)
  • ...the concern & friendship of JK (in South Africa) ^_^*
  • ...Godmother, Aunty Bonz' unconditional love for me (and my family)
  • health
  • ...air conditioner
What are you thankful for today?

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues. -Cicero

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

2010 - The year I celebrate TWO birthdays!

With my brother in South Africa on my birthday last year (2009)

It's 6am (Korean time) on Thursday, July 29 2010. It's my birthday today! I woke up about an hour before my alarm clock went off. There were a couple of text messages on my cell phone and emails from family & friends around the world - South Africa, UK, New Zealand and Indonesia all wishing me well.

For as long as I can remember, birthdays have been a very important and special day in my family. My dad's been counting down my birthday for the past month by reminding me in emails "how many days are left" :-) Sound a bit childish? Not if you know my family!

Some people say that as one gets older, birthdays lose its novelty. Not with me. I love birthdays and why shouldn't you? I know that some people are a bit uncomfortable with all the attention and having the spotlight thrown on them for 24 hours, but to look at it from a different perspective, a birthday celebrates you. The day you were born. What could be a more special day in your life than that?

Last night I told my friend Joo-hyeon, "I want to pretend that tomorrow is a different date."
"You want to postpone your birthday?" she asked.

She knew the reason why. 
I was so looking forward to this day because I was going to spend it with my family, but...due to unforeseen circumstances, plans have changed. So I think I may be spending the day alone. Or, completely different to how I originally planned it. Bummer.

Last year this time, I was in South Africa. It was the first birthday in seven years that I spent at home with my family!

"You're lucky. You can have two special birthdays. One with your Korean friends and one with your family, because you're special," Joo-hyeon said.

Anyway, I do plan on having two birthdays this year.
Why? Because I said so and because I can! :-)

Why I divorced Facebook

From Google Images
I take offense when I'm lied to. I feel like this is what Facebook (FB) did to me.

We started our relationship in 2007. I agreed to all FB's terms and conditions and in turn, it promised to connect me to the world, but also allowing me to control how much of information I could make visible to others. FB allowed me to rekindle friendships with long-lost primary school friends.

FB also enabled me to see my high school friend's wedding and baby photo's and not just "hear" that so-and-so got married or so-and-so had a baby. I was able to share all of my travel adventures (photographs and tidbits) with all my "friends" on FB.

Logging onto FB every morning after checking my email was routine. I could see Friend A posted a picture of her baby's first tooth, Friend B had a bridal shower yesterday and oh...look at what Friend C had for dinner last night! When FB introduced the chat feature, there was always someone online to talk to when I logged on, regardless of timezones. I loved this. We were always connected.

Updating my FB profile with news (what constitutes personal news, by the way?), photos and contact information, it beat having to send out mass emails to everyone.

Sometimes it felt like I cheated on my blog with FB. I blogged less frequently. Why spend all that time writing and uploading photos on my blog, when I could upload a whole photo album with captions - telling the exact same story. Right? Also, it seemed like people were less likely comment on my blog, but more on my FB updates. Fine. As they wish. Even though on Blogger, you can opt to comment anonymously. But, it's your call.

And then "apps" were born. Some of them were fun. Friends were able to exchange virtual gifts, do "super pokes" and even give each other fun nick names. But then something called "Farmville" was invented. I started receiving the strangest invitations of crops and...whatever else Farmville consists of.

As a social network, I found that people on FB became far less sociable.

A few months ago (in March, to be precise) I felt betrayed by FB. All my privacy settings were set to default and for a brief moment, I felt naked to all my FB friends. Apart from this (which really annoyed me), people were becoming far less interested in replying private messages, wall posts or photo comments.

FB was also "Friend Suggesting" people whose names I had almost forgotten. How was FB making these connections? It was almost haunting.

I'd had enough, so I deactivated my account. I'd previously been on "FB Diets" - a whole week without logging on. Difficult, but possible. This time, I wanted to delete my account, but the folks at FB headquarters make it so difficult to do so.

By deactivating my account, my profile was not visible to my FB friends. Within a week, I started getting frantic emails and text messages from friends around the world. "Are you OK?" "What happened?" "What's wrong?"

Many of them forgot that I actually had an email address which they could email me on. Apparently, clicking Compose, typing and hitting Send from an email account takes a lot of effort.

To be very honest, I didn't miss FB. I started nurturing my blog again, which I'm glad I did. I logged back in a few days ago and saw that some of the privacy settings had changed again (which I was glad about).

I understand why FB is so huge and why people choose to use it as primary medium for communicating with family and friends. I, on the other hand, decided to give FB a break after realizing that of my 500+ friends, how many of them do I really communicated with on a regular basis? 200? No. 100? No. What about 20? I think I could say less than 10.

I also realized that my profile had many "lurkers". I knew they were lurking because when/if I'd meet them when I'm down in South Africa, they'd comment about my photo uploads. However, those were the people whose photos were only their profile pics.

Anyways, I will probably activate my account again, but not anytime soon.

TEDIndia '09 Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge

About Kiran Sethi
The founder of the Riverside School in Ahmedabad, Kiran Sethi has launched an initiative to make our cities more child-friendly.

About this talk
Kiran Bir Sethi shows how her groundbreaking Riverside School in India teaches kids life's most valuable lesson: "I can." Watch her students take local issues into their own hands, lead other young people, even educate their parents.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Kill with Kindness

Today I saw someone who's upset and angered me over the past few weeks. I could have been dismissive or hostile towards them. Instead, I decided to greet them with a smile. I complimented them and was really kind, which I think confused the hell out of them!

This morning I decided to do a complete 360 on my attitude.

Hatred attracts hatred. I don't want this. Nobody does, I think.

Love your enemies. It'll confuse them, and they may even hate you more, but you will definitely feel better. Guaranteed!

My tip for the day: Kill with Kindness.

Music Monday

I've decided to post a music video every Monday on my blog. The song I'm loving most at the moment is Usher's "DJ got us fallin' in love" featuring Pitbull.

COEX Aquarium

On Sunday, July 25 2010 my friend, I visited the COEX Aquarium in Seoul with my friend Hye-jin and her family. Aquarium's are very cool, so here are a few photo's to share with you!

TEDxSeoul - What we need now?

On Saturday, July 24 2010 I attended TEDxSeoul 2010. The theme: What we need now? The conference started at 1pm and was held at the Jade Hall, U-Plex in Sinchon (Seoul)

The speakers were:

Young-ha Kim (Writer)
Geon-hyeok Go (Boonga Boonga Record, CEO)
Jeong-soon Oum (Artist)
Darcy Paquet (Movie-ist)
Soo-in Yang (Architect)
Sang-jun Yoo (Student/UX Designer)
Ho-jeong Kang (Peatlands Ecologist)
Sang-min Whang (Psychologist)
Sung-bum Lee (External Partnership Team Good Neighbors)
Myeong-sook Seo (Founder of Jeju Olleh)
Kyeong-mook Kim (Filmmaker)
Jin-yong Chung, Won-ki Min (TED Player Developer)

Weekly Wrap-Up

I wrote this last night....

Hello everyone

It's Sunday evening. I'm feeling sleepy, but thinking about having a cup of coffee to wake up a bit. I need to write a bit more before I turn in.

Life really is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs, twists and turns. We don't know what surprises (or disappointments) await us around the corner. The past week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me. I've done a lot of thinking and self-analyzing. I think I need to organize these thoughts into various blog posts.

Speaking of blog posts, I'm also thinking of dedicating a theme or topic for each day. In an ideal world, I will upload a post every single day, but unfortunately I don't live in an ideal world.

I have a few idea's stewing in my mind, and I think I just need to get the words out. I'll try and make sense of them at a later stage - if even that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Office Kitchens & Fridges

I got these in an email from my buddy, Ajay. One thing I know for sure - these little notes are not from Korea. Here, once something is in the fridge, it's for anyone who gets to it first. It's a culture of sharing. I know this first hand because I've taken things like banana's, yogurt and juice to work and when I go for it, it's gone! Anyway, these are funny - Enjoy!

Meet Yoo-Kyeong!

On Wednesday, July 21, 2010 I visited my friend Jin and her beautiful baby, Yoo-Kyeong. She has got to be one of the most gorgeous babies I've seen. She was so friendly and cute - just look at that face!

Unusual spotting

On my way to work yesterday (Thursday, July 22, 2010) from the corner of my eye, I spotted some fluttering of colour in a gutter. When I looked down, it was this little butterfly. A couple of people stopped to look what I was taking a photo of...but if you know me, my camera is always ready to snap something that catches my attention!

The "ice breaker" post

Image from Google Images

I love working half days. The first week of English Camp has come to an end. I've been finishing at 12 everyday, giving me the afternoon free. I've been going to the gym and taking naps (the heat drains me) More importantly, I've been packing and making trips to the post office.

This morning I walked to work in rain, thunder and lightening. I was really scared. Even being indoors, the sound of thunder frightens imagine being outside. There were no cabs to be seen until I was just about at work!

After work today, I went to the gym and had a pretty good workout. I decided to spend the afternoon blogging. Instead, I socialized (albeit online) a bit too much, made phone calls, reservations and whatnot. It's nearly 8pm now and what do I have to show (in terms of writing?) Nothing.

Idea's and topics for blog posts crash land in my mind on my way to work, in the shower, lying in bed or working out at the gym. Sometimes, I'll whip out my iPod Touch and type some notes. Most of the time, however, they just remain in my mind. When it's time to sit at my desk and actually write, it's like my fingers and brain freeze. Suddenly, the sentences I'd formed (almost perfectly) in my mind battle to come out.

So I'll use this post as an "ice breaker" of sorts and I'll attempt to churn out a few more before I decide to call it a night.

Wish me luck :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nelson Mandela!

Today, Nelson Mandela celebrates his 92nd birthday! Also, South Africa commemorates this legend by celebrating Mandela Day by doing a good deed for 67 minutes :-)
It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.

Happy Birthday & Farewell!

After the staff dinner on Friday, July 16 2010 the 6th grade teachers went out to Bucheon. It was a little birthday / farewell party for me. They surprised me with a cake, lit candles and sang for me!

Final Staff Dinner

On Friday, July 16 2010 there was an end-of-semester staff dinner. I surprised everyone by delivering a speech in Korean! It was the last time I was going to see many of the teachers ever again.

Bye Bye Teacher!

It's been an emotional week saying goodbye to students and teacher friends who I've known for the past 3 years. Here are some photos of me with a few of the kids. I'll upload another blog post about the sweetest letters they wrote to me!

School Kitchen Tour

Everyday, the children and teachers enjoy a wholesome lunch at school. I usually enjoy it (when there's no meat on the menu). I was really curious to know what the kitchen looks like, so on Thursday, July 15 2010 I got special permission to visit the place where our food is prepared everyday.

There are special shoes that must be worn in the kitchen

 You have to "clean" your shoes on this wet mat

Aprons and masks

Kindergarten Farewell Party

On Thursday, July 15 2010 I had a farewell party with my Kindergarten class. This is the 4th class I've taught since I've been at this school and they are definitely the best ever. We had such fun at the party and they loved the stickers I gave them. The Kindergarten teachers always go way out for our end-of-semester parties and I really appreciate it.

Loved their stickers!

I cried when I left :(

Delicate and delicious Tiramisu

Paul's Family

Paul the Octopus has family living in a tank outside
a restaurant down the street from me!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My life: Butterflies & Mosquitoes

"How does he/she sleep at night?" is something my mother often asks about people who are ugly to others. People who hurt the feelings of those around them. How do they feel making others cry?

The first thing I do when I get home is get out of my work clothes. I usually get home just after 5pm. It's now 9:07pm and I've only just settled down from 4 hours ago.

Today was the second last day at my school. Tomorrow, after 3 years of teaching at the same school, I say goodbye to teachers, colleagues, friends and people who have become my family since living in Korea.

I'm really so blessed to have people in my life who care and love me the way they do.

However. And I say this with a capital H. There has been a person in my life who has drained me emotionally and spiritually for the past few months. Because I see this person on a daily basis, I can't avoid them.

Vaseline launches skin-whitening Facebook app for India

I could not believe this when I read the headline last night.

Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook in India, enabling users to make their skin whiter in their profile pictures.

The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin.

The widget promises to "Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men" in a campaign fronted by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, who is depicted with his face divided into dark and fair halves.

"We started campaign advertising (for the application) from the second week of June and the response has been pretty phenomenal," Pankaj Parihar from global advertising firm Omnicom, which designed the campaign, told AFP.

In 2005, Indian cosmetics giant Emani launched the first skin-whitening cream for men, called "Fair and Handsome", 27 years after the first cream for women.

Since then a half dozen foreign brands have piled into the market for men, including Garnier, L’Oreal and Nivea, which promote the seemingly magical lightening qualities of their products in ubiquitous advertising.

In 2009, a poll of nearly 12 000 people by online dating site, revealed that skin tone was considered the most important criteria when choosing a partner in three northern Indian states.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Seo-joon learns "Thank you"

On Sunday, July 11 2010 I met my friend Hye-jin and her gorgeous baby (who I've half-adopted!) Seo-joon for lunch. I met Hye-jin on new years eve (2009) and we've maintained a really good friendship ever since. I've known her through the latter part of her pregnancy and have watched her baby boy growing up.

Seo-joon celebrated his first birthday in March. I get to see him every few weeks and he really does bring a smile to my face. On Sunday, I was giving him a piece of cheesecake in a coffee shop and was blown away by how cute he was. His mum has taught him to give/accept items with both hands extended and to bow his head to say "thank you" which is typical in Korean culture.

Look at this video where I'm giving him a piece of cheesecake. His mum is telling him to use both hands. When she says thank you in Korean, look how he bows his head to the side. Adorable!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Farewell World Cup 2010

Image from Google Images
It came. It entertained. It deprived us of sleep. And now it's gone. The 2010 FIFA World Cup is over, and if you give me a quizzical look as if to say, "What the hell are you talking about?" then I'm going to have to slap you right here. Right now. You simply can't not know what I'm talking about. For the past month, and months leading up to it, the World Cup (soccer, in case you didn't know) held in South Africa, has headlined every possible form of media.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting to get caught up in the soccer hype, but online friends from almost every continent made it a lot easier to adapt to the erratic sleep patterns I endured. On some days, I was napping from 8pm to 10:30pm. Watch a game. Nap again and wake up at 3am. I'd stay awake till about 5:30am, nap till 6am or until I absolutely had to start getting ready for work.

Many people asked how I managed to teach my classes. Well, with great ease! It was at 3 or 4pm when it would feel like my body became sluggish, while I was still at work.

Last night I woke up at 1:30am to watch the Closing Ceremony - which was simply incredible. It was pointless going back to sleep, so I stayed up and watched a bit of the game (Spain vs Netherlands) but I kept dozing off. I woke up just in time to see the trophy being lifted into the air by SPAIN!

As someone who never followed soccer before, I had the best time watching, supporting, cheering and changing my nationality every day for the different teams that were playing.

Who cares if I didn't know the severity of yellow cards, red cards or penalties? I had fun anyway :-)

I think South Africa did very well as a host nation. I wonder what's next for Mzansi?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Waka Waka Baby

My buddy (Ajay) sent me this clip of a baby dancing to Shakira's Waka Waka.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beijing Bus Explodes

My colleague just showed me these pics from a Korean site.

In sweltering Beijing, where the temperature is approximately 40 degrees Celsius, a city bus exploded in thick flames this morning. Terrible...

* Luckily, people got out of the bus in time and escaped with injuries. Thank goodness there were no deaths.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Usher Concert

On Saturday, July 3 2010 it was all about USHER, baby! The singer was in Seoul for a one-night-only concert.

Truth be told, I've never really been crazy about him, but have appreciated his hits - namely Yeah, Burn, Love in the Club and more recently, OMG.

I was disappointed with our seats (I didn't book the tickets). We were the first row in the upper level which means that there was constant traffic in front of us.

The concert started about 15 minutes late and up to an hour later, people were only just arriving...and not even trying to duck for the people they were blocking.

The concert was sponsored by Hyundai Card Super Concert - same promoters who brought the likes of Beyonce, Craig David and Whitney Houston. Beyonce and Whitney's concerts were great - in terms of stage and production. Whitney's performance, however was downright disappointing.

Usher was accompanied by sexy male and female dancers who I thought could put The Pussycat Dolls to shame.

Dressed in all white throughout the concert (except for the finale), he took off his jacket after a couple of songs leaving him with only a white vest. This, of course, resulted in shrieks of delight. He gave the audience a peak of his washboard abs while giving his signature smile.

Usher singing Burn.

His microphone failed as he was just about to belt out Love in this Club, but picked it up quite nicely.

One of the sexier songs was definitely Hey Daddy.

I was waiting for this....Yeah!

The finale was OMG which got the crowd really pumped.

I was really surprised that there was no encore, though. There's been an encore at every single concert I've been to so far.

In terms of audience interaction, I thought there was very little of it. Granted, the Flo Rida concert I went to in May was on a much smaller scale, and Flo even jumped into the audience a couple of times.

Usher's concert seemed to be strictly choreographed. He came. He did his thing. And he left. Just like that.

After concerts I'm usually so pumped up from the artists performance, but after this one, I felt (to say it in Kong-lish for a lack of a better expression) so-so ^_^*