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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1Q84 - Haruki Murakami

I have not read George Orwell's "1984", so I wouldn't know what kind of a take Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 is of the classic, but of its own, 1Q84 can stand alone and be proud of itself. I decided to read this ginormous work of Murakami after reading some glorious reviews of this famous Japanese author.

The book is a twisted fantasy/love story in 3 books. Tengo, an upcoming author (who might never really make it) and Aomame, a fitness expert (and a hired hitman with serious issues) are probably as mundane and as twisted as any other Jack and Jill in this world. A mere fraction of their childhood together seems to have left an indelible mark on both of them and while they live completely oblivious of each other, the strange plot of the story brings them inch by inch closer.

This is no vampire/Harry Potter sort of fiction (though I love those too!). It  has a plot that slowly creeps into the real world and you are left wondering initially "What the ?". As you read on the story pulls you along until you really cannot make out between the real and the alternate world.

Strangely enough my favorite character of this book is the absolute bad guy Ushikawa. What a classic!

It is a one of a kind read which I must warn though requires some level of patience. I can bet you on one thing though.  After reading this book, the next time you look up into the night sky, you will actually look for the other moon, somehow waiting for it pop up somewhere!  :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

In South Korea - Completely and utterly lost in translation

Of all the places, I never once imagined that I would come to South Korea. Not even as a tourist. But, here I am for the past 3 months, living in "Asia's Best Kept Secret" as they call it. I would have thought as an Asian, it can't be that hard to live here. Right? Wrong! I mean its not like the hardest thing on the planet. But this is the farthest from my culture, language and normal living that I have ever been.

I am here for work, living in this crowded section of a city called Suwon. Not to the extent that I would have prefered but we Indians as ever, have managed to establish some presence here as well. Proof? 3 Indian restaurants, 10 minutes from the hotel I stay in :-). Well here are a bunch of things I oberved:

1. South Korea is super modernized. It is almost like any western country (by which I actually mean the US). Especially the cities. One would be amazed to see the number of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts here.

2. Fasshhhiiiooon! I have to say the people here are perhaps among the best dressed in the world. The women are super petite and have such beautiful skin. I am pushed to XL size here. Booohoooo! There is a craze for well manicured and fancy decorated nails. I hear that Seoul is also very famous for plastic surgery :|

3. Finding vegetarian food here is literally like finding a needle in a haystack. Vegetable bibimbap (some kind of semi boiled long strips of vegetables with rice) and Sundubu (dubu for tofu) are the few I have tried. Gob bless my furnished apartment with kitchen. Almost every meal in some small way involves meat. They find it incredible that I am a vegetarian and my patience ebbs aways each time I desperately do some hand gestures and try to explain - no meat, no fish and no egg.

4. The people here are nice. When lost, they literally take your hand and lead you to the right way. Its heart warming when they do that!

5. Samsung, the company has a HuuuGE presence here. Going in, you feel like you are entering a town in itself. It is a unique experience to enter their fabs. The security is no less than that of an airport, with passport checks, metal detectors and what not. I must be the only or among the very few who sneaked in with Sambar rice lunch box. :-D. I really have huge food woes in the cafeteria they have.

6. People brush their teeth after lunch. They have huge toothbrush stands in washrooms and office goers diligently brush after lunch.

7. The taxi drivers are a scary lot. They have a GPS plus small television in front of them which they mostly use to watch TV (duh!) while driving!!!! at 130km/hr!!!!!!!!

8. Seoul is simply fantastic. It is a beautiful blend of east and west. Filled with quaint streets with nick nacks, cozy coffee shops and restaurants. Charming is the word.

9. Speaking of coffee shops, there is a plethora of them. Prices could be on par with Starbucks. There is also a craze for bakeries. You would find a "Paris Baguette"on every street corner.

10. "Omma" = mother, "Appa" = father. Two Korean words are almost the same as in my language (Tamil).

What has been the best part of my stay here so far? I have never in my entire life been complimented so often for being beautiful! One lady at the Ginseng shop told me in the same breath - "Indian women very beautiful. Big eyes..."and gesturing towards my middle section "....big hips." I am still confused whether she actually complimented me or not.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year 2012!!!

Wish you all a super duper absolutely fantabulous New Year 2012! 

2011 has been a year of transition for me in some ways. Entering marital bliss (no single people, run!!! ;-)), completing my degree, moving from the Netherlands to the US, looking for jobs and gaining a few (a lot actually :-( ) pounds. 

Had one of the best new year's eve celebration with my cousins in NYC, standing in that tightly packed crowd, right next to the big apple! You have to believe me. In that crazy crowd, that is as close as close gets!

Lets see how things roll out this year!!! Happpppy Newwwww Yeaaarrrrr people!!!
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